Helsinki's modern city with tradition at its heart... just like its art

As an artist I am always eager to visit new cities. Helsinki is a compact, calm place on the ocean and it was fun to wander around viewing all the architecture, churches, city squares, sampling of different foods and seeing new sights such as the Rock Church (yes, a church carved in the rock). Also not forgetting my love specifically for art museums. This is a great way to see how international artists sit alongside the country's own selection of homegrown artists and interesting to see how Finnish artists portray their country.

Just like Helsinki, there is an abundance of old and new, of contrasting Art Nouveau styles alongside modern multiplexes and sparkling shopping centres. When it comes to art museums, you have the Kiasma featuring contemporary art. The Ateneum is the National Gallery of Finland so houses traditional fine art paintings and sculpture.

I loved the 'Kiasma Hits' as this included many interactive and touchable pieces, one of my favourites being 'What it feels like to be invisible'. When you enter the enclosed space, you end up in front of a mirror that doesn't reflect your image back to you! Ha this was a completely strange and surreal experience... and I loved it!! It really did make you wonder what it would be like! Another piece was an interactive sculpture made out of thousands of coloured ribbons which the viewer could move into and weave themselves around in a mass of silk, soft material and colour.

Metal sculpture at Kiasma

At polar opposites in the Ateneum, one of my favourite Finnish artists is Pekka Hanonen, a master of the Finnish landscape and after spending a month in Finland I was able to absorb his paintings and truly imagine myself in that scene. There are some fine works of traditional painting to be seen there and offer a view of Finland you couldn't get anywhere else. So, Helsinki, a surprisingly rich taste of two worlds living side by side...


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