bikes to Simpsiö - neither bike feels stable on turns or downhills and Paul's rear wheel's hub/gear needs to be replaced as it wobbles constantly and skips chain links any time there is any torque applied - we hiked the "mountain" up to a 9 story observation tower that moved a bit in the wind but provided a nice view of the area.
We took the train to Tampere where we were greeted by Karri Kokko and Katja Matakainen. After a lovely buffet lunch at Heiska ry in Hämeenkyrö we headed to Arteles Creative Center to see Birch Loops, the environmental installation we created while in residence at Arteles in May 2012. We had high hopes that there would be quite a bit of the work still remaining after receiving two photos from an artist who had been at the Center in April. We were stunned to find that most of the work was intact. Even the dead wood that we used to build three rings on the ground wasn't totally decayed and the braids of living saplings still held strong. We had forgotten just how immense the installation actually is. It is impossible to capture the entire installation in one photo. As you enter Birch Loops there are braided arcs over a ring on the ground to the left, then you turn to the right and note that the work keeps going and surrounds you on all sides. If it weren't for the mosquitoes we would have been quite content to stay inside it for quite some time. We are humbled and honored that over the years artists in residence at Arteles have interacted with Birch Loops as a site for their creative work.
We returned to Tampere where we enjoyed coffee, long discussions and a wonderful dinner prepared by Karri featuring a typical Midsummer cold course of pickled herring, pickled salmon, roe, boiled potatoes and dark bread followed by a warm course of fish, carrots and salad. After a walk along one of the two large lakes of Tampere we enjoyed delicious pine flavored ice cream with strawberries.
In the morning Karri and Katja served as our guides for a walking tour of the very aesthetic city with the Tampere Cathedral as the highlight of the day. The grounds of the Cathedral were ringed with a hedge of manicured oak trees. We ended the day with a stop at a real coffee shop, appropriately named Runo ("poetry") with funky furnishings and artful decorations.
The events in the courtyard commenced while we worked in the studio and we were "serenaded" by some throbbing, annoying house music apparently designed for exercise routines to provide a driving, incessant beat and little melodic interest. We tried not to be distracted by the very poor and dangerous weight lifting technique the participants were being led in. A bit later a singer/guitarist did a set of pleasant songs. We finished our weaving piece and got some headway on the industrial paper towel panels with altered with twigs, leaves, paper and flour/water "glue".
We enjoyed the very warm evening with a bike ride around town.
We finished up the day with weaving and adding the final coat of paint to the papier-mâché heads. For dinner we made our version of Latvian cold beet soup (though we used yogurt because kefir isn't available in the supermarket). And...we had a licorice tasting before bedtime.
We did stop in a Video/Candy store on the way there and found several different varieties of licorice (taste videos to follow). Fortunately Christine had recommended that we drive further through a string of islands to where the road ends, the world heritage site at Svedjehamn.
After lunch of a lovely salmon chowder at the cafe at the end of the road we took a short hike on the nature trail, stopping at the brilliantly designed observation tower to enjoy the views and read about the site. The land was compressed by the weight of the glaciers during the Ice Age and has been rising since. In 2,000 years the land raised the height of the tower and in another 2,000 years will do the same. Without the rising seas of global warming Sweden and Finland would become connected by land. Efforts have been made to reconstruct the old buildings historically utilized for salting herring.
We originally set off on a longer loop but the very large mosquitoes made the hike in boggy areas a constant effort at swatting so we decided on the shorter loop.
envisioned paper walls for our installation and also took us to visit the community public cottage outside of town. Inspired by the photos of the deceased factory workers in the Center's chapel we have started building 40 papier-mâché "heads" for the installation.
Two bicycles have been loaned to us. Not the most stable vehicles on the road but we are definitely enjoying them.
Saturday we explored the austere chapel honoring the 40 who died in the 1976 Lapua Ammunition Cartridge Factory explosion then we went to check out the studio spaces available to us at Vanha Paukku. There is a beautiful side storage room upstairs that doesn't meet fire code standards so we can't officially use it. We finished the day with a lovely, very Baltic meal of beet soup, local cheese, pickled herring, and black rye bread.
On Sunday we took advantage of the lovely weather to walk to the Simpsiö Ski Resort and enjoy a lovely hike. As Karri Kokko told us, this area of Finland is known for being flat (and windy) so it is a wonderful surprise to find some decent sized hills. Finland has luscious dandelion flowers, the blossoms are at least 2 inches in diameter. Just as was true when we were in Hämeenkyrö, Paul regrets not being able to harvest them to brew Dandelion/Ginger Trippel Ale. It was great to hike in the trees, rocks and lakes - made us miss backpacking - and we only got a few mosquito bites.
We appreciate the Scandinavian sense of efficiency of design elements - especially in the kitchen - the cupboards above sink have metal grids rather than wood bottoms to allow for draining the dishes. The entire layout of the kitchen workspace is very ergonomically intelligent; Frank and Lillian Gilbreth would be amazed.
At the supermarket we were very happy to find plentiful and cheap root vegetables like beets and potatoes; lovely dark rye breads, local cheeses, and the very rich and creamy Salakis Turkisk Naturell Youghurt that we discovered a few years ago while staying in Hämeenkyrö. Knowing that Finns, while drinking more coffee per capita than any other nationality like their coffee very lightly roasted, we asked Karri for his recommendation and have found a passable brand of French dark roast.
We toured the Cultural Centre Vanha Paukku, on the former site of a cartridge factory that exploded when the gunpowder for the bullets stored on the top floor was accidentally ignited, killing 41 mostly female workers that devastated this small town in 1976. The Centre includes a very lovely and austere chapel to honor the dead, museum, gallery, music and art studios, a theater, restaurant, and a beautiful library.
The initial attempts to locate potential collaborators have begun. Unfortunately the local theatre company is taking a summer break after next week so we may have many potential collaborators off for holiday.
Karri is in the stop motion video Si, I See, in Assisi and his voice is heard on A Simple Thing. We were fortunate to work with him again in 2012 to create and perform Cagevent: Sometimes it Works, Sometimes it Doesn't. We enjoyed dinner with Karri where he helped Jo install a sim card in her IPhone and coffee the next morning We are hoping to meet up in Tampere later this month and visit our environmental installation Birch Loops to see how much is left/how it has changed in five years.