Friday 24th March
It was a long four hour drive to my next museum but it actually went by in a haze. I think my brain was whirring over all that I'd seen and experienced so far and thoughts were forming. I think a lot of my best thinking happens when I'm on the move…in the car, on a bus, riding my bike…maybe it's because it's somewhere no one can get me? I'm busy pedalling or steering or something which means my brain can think things over, it's just how it's always worked for me. I just need to make sure I grab a pen and paper as soon as I stop to catch the thoughts before they're gone.
So after four or so hours I arrive in Lappeenranta and drive to the fortress where the South Karelian museum is housed and Reija (who looks after the research and collections in the museum) is kindly waiting for me. I ended up being an hour late (google maps doesn't take into account my ice driving speed and there was plenty of ice on the tiny back roads) but she was completely understanding and met me with a huge smile and bags of enthusiasm and energy for all my questions. I must admit I was feeling overwhelmed by information at this point in my trip and a bit tired after a big drive, but Reija’s upbeat attitude was the perfect antidote to my fatigue. She was so delighted to have someone visit and request info on Täkänä, it was so encouraging. It turns out Rieja had curated a rare exhibition about Täkänä last year which was how I'd discovered the museum.
The poster for the Täkänä exhibition at Galleria Laura in 2016
Reija introduced me to another member of her team who unfortunately had to leave but they had dug out lots more Täkänä drawings and diagrams from a local weaving company...
More examples of täkänä designs and colour charts
However, the weaving company was no longer inaction, it sadly shut down in the mid 70s, but it turned out to be a huge coincidence that this weaving company that first began in the 30s was the reason I'd become interested in Täkänä all those months ago. The catalogues I found in the flea market in Hämeenkyrö whilst on my residency at Arteles were from Laura Korpikaivo-Tamminen’s weaving company which was established here in Lappeenranta. Reija had this amazing book all about Laura Korpikaivo-Tamminen and her life which she kindly gave to me and explained how she had been a really successful business woman for her whole life and also a strong character. There was something quite incredible hearing about the determination and work ethic of this woman who decided to start her own business in 1932 with the full support of her husband. It sounded quite progressive (and impressive) for a woman to start and run her own business back in that era but also that it was a success for seven decades.
Drawing to finished täkänä
Label details from Laura Korpikaivo-Tamminen's company
After my stop in Lappeenranta, it was a long drive back to Helsinki before my flight home. Despite my travels in Finland coming to an end, new things and connections were popping into my inbox all the time and it is amazing how this trip has sparked so many avenues of conversation, meetings and thoughts.
So now I'm back in my studio in Glasgow, trying to pull it all together and bring all that I've learnt into a new collection. It's taken a while to process but I think it's beginning to come together. A new collection is launching at designjunction in september and I'm collaborating with Floor_Story once more and an amazing Finnish weaver...I'll also be hosting two events in the Autumn to share the journey of this project with anyone that would like to know more, more details to follow...
Huge thanks to Creative Scotland for funding this project and to everyone that I've met and spoken with on the journey so far... x