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:
Mansikkaa ja vaniljaa (Strawberries and Vanilla), 2008
Blown and fused glass
Muisto (A Memory), 2009
Pate de verre
Content Spilling, 2008
Blown glass, sandblasted
Värileikki (Colourplay), 2009
Rakastunut lumihevoseen (In Love with a Snow Horse)
Pate de verre
Breaking Tunes, 2009
Blown glass, ravenna
Valkoista mustalla (White on black), 2005
Cast glass, partly cut, partly chair work
Aarre-valaisin (Aarre Lamp), 2009
Blown glass, turned wooden bowl
Cartoon Chicks, 2007
Hely-koruvalaisin, Hely accessory lamp, 2008
Turned mould and blown glass
Handblown glass, wheelcut,
engraved , height 35 cm
Esa Jaske Collection