Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Recent Finnish Glass


I just received in the mail an exhibition catalogue 'Finnish Glass Lives 6', 
published by The Finnish Glass Museum in Riihimäki, Finland, from my sister, 
who's written an article about the exhibition (thank you Ulla for the book).

The publication gives the reader an overview of the development of Finnish glass 
in terms of contemporary glassworks over the years 2005-2009.

There's been a long tradition of Finnish Glass, with the golden age with ensuing 
remarkable international attention happening in the 1950's and 60's.

I tend to think that the 50's-60's period in Finland was indeed quite exceptional in 
terms of design; there was something very special in the air at the time. 
Marimekko in fabrics, Kaj Frack and Tapio Wirkkala et al. in glass, Alvar Aalto in 
architecture, and many other companies and designers too numerous to mention, 
are examples of the golden age of Finnish design.

I think the 70's and 80's, and onto the 90's, was a wasted time though, when 
external influences flooded to Finland discouraging designers, turning them into 
shallow followers of international trends, effectively dumbing down their 
sensitivities about who they were, and where they've come from. In an attempt 
of reproducing the iconic achievements of the past, they tried to combine the 
'needs' of the new time with what got the attention before, thus compromising 
themselves: the results were almost embarrassing, I'd say.

Well, has it changed since the 90's? I'd say, yes. However, it is a change with a 
caveat. The functional arts are up there again, but it seems to me the 
development has more to do with the ever increasing wealth and educational 
standards in Finland. For me, Finnish arts and crafts are more intelligent and 
refined nowadays, but almost calculated at it; producing some exceptional works, 
in terms of newness (I'm having problems with deciding which word to use: I'm 
looking for something describing something very creative, on a global scale, 
hugely intelligent, drooled by the hip people, etc.). But then again, have the 
makers (I hesitate to use the word artist in this context) forgotten the heart, the 
sentiment that once was the cause for the phenomenal historic Finnish design 
success of the past (which, by the way, has nothing to do with the endorsement 
of the international community, but more to do with being a human, I'd say)?

Having said all that, at the bottom of the post there's an image from my 
collection of an Anu Penttinen glasswork - she was quite heavily featured in the 

These are my favourites from the catalogue:

Miia Virtasalmi
Mansikkaa ja vaniljaa (Strawberries and Vanilla), 2008
Blown and fused glass

Marjut Kalin-Eloaho
Muisto (A Memory), 2009
Pate de verre

Riikka Latva-Sompi
Content Spilling, 2008
Mixed media

Joonas Laakso
Chemicalhead, 2009
Blown glass, sandblasted

Marja Suna
Värileikki (Colourplay), 2009
Blown Glass

Merja Virta
Rakastunut lumihevoseen (In Love with a Snow Horse)
Pate de verre

Maria Jutila
Breaking Tunes, 2009
Blown glass, ravenna

Oiva Toikka
Valkoista mustalla (White on black), 2005
Cast glass, partly cut, partly chair work

Pertti Metsälampi
Helianthus, 2009
Blown glass

Kirsti Taivioila
Aarre-valaisin (Aarre Lamp), 2009
Blown glass, turned wooden bowl

Anu Penttinen
Cartoon Chicks, 2007
Fused glass

Katriina Nuutinen
Hely-koruvalaisin, Hely accessory lamp, 2008
Turned mould and blown glass

Anu Penttinen
Balance, 2000
Handblown glass, wheelcut,
engraved , height 35 cm
Esa Jaske Collection

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