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Artist puts Japanese stamp on Finnish forest scenes

A new exhibition of prints in Vantaa showcases images of Finland's nature using Japanese techniques - and is providing ways for local schoolkids to get up close and learn more about the artworks.

An image of a Finnish forest, from artist Hiroko Imada's Finlandia Rhapsody exhibition, printed using the Japanese technique of lithography on plywood.
An image of a Finnish forest, from artist Hiroko Imada's Finlandia Rhapsody exhibition, printed using the Japanese technique of lithography on plywood. Image: Yle

A new exhibition of prints by a renowned Japanese artist brings together images of Finnish nature with Japanese artistic techniques.

The new show, ”Finlandia Rhapsody”, contains a series of works by Hiroko Imada depicting Finland’s forests throughout the four seasons. But the London-based artist has produced her images with materials and techniques from her homeland, Japan, such as by using Japanese paper or scrolls. In particular Imada has pioneered a Japanese technique of lithography on plywood, little used in Europe.

”By using plywood you can print with oil and water-based ink at the same time, which gives a result that’s peculiar and special, which I really like. It’s like a western and eastern marriage,” Imada says.

A chance encounter with a Finnish dancer in London four years ago led Imada to visit this country and fall in love with its nature.

”Nature in Finland has conflicting characters,” she says. ”Sometimes it’s calm and tranquil and at other times it’s bitter and violent… But it’s always attractive and fascinating.”

The artist, who trained at London’s Slade School in the early ’90s and has lived in the city every since, brought over the young British composer and flautist Nicolas Sabisky to Helsinki with her for the opening of her show. His specially written piece for the exhibition, ”Nighthawk”, evokes the Finnish bird which catches its prey by blending seamlessly into its forest surroundings. Sabisky says in preparing to write the piece he began by listening to the seminal Finnish composer Sibelius, though he ended up being more inspired by Finnish folk.

The exhibition will run until October 10th at the Pessi exhibition centre in Vantaa, during which time there will be a series of workshops for young people to learn skills of papermaking, or to interact with the artworks.

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