Täkänä Research Trip | PART TWO | Helsinki Conversations: A trip to HAM : Jyväskylä Conservation Centre

Saturday 18th March

Today was a day on the move…leaving Helsinki for Tampere but first a Finnish friend of mine had put me in touch with a Helsinki based designer called Elina Helenius. Elina seemed really interested in my project in her emails and had suggested we meet at a café in the centre of Helsinki called Cafe Aschen Jugend. Sadly this was shut (Elina wanted me to see the architecture) so we went to the nearby Kappeli – a beautiful building on the Esplanade that first opened it’s doors as a café in 1867. Elina was an inspiration to meet. Her career spans several decades and has also crossed over from print to weave. She’s worked with many companies I admire and has a warmth and openness that was wonderful to be around.

Title image from Elina's homepage
We chatted away about many things, our work, projects, weaving, travel…eventually we ended up walking over to the Helsinki Art Museum where we said our good byes and I went to see this exhibition 'Modern Life! – Finnish Modernism and the International Dimension showcases highlights of architecture, design, visual art and photography that contributed to the construction of a modern and international Finland between 1917 and 1968. It also shows how everyday life in the modern country was gradually shaped by visual art.'
Dresses on display including some Marimekko pieces of course
My favourite Alvar Aalto chair in the exhibition

Monday 20th March

After further travelling yesterday, I woke up to fresh snowfall in the town of Jyväskylä which lies about 170 miles north of Helsinki. It was very cold. Today was another day inside though, this time at the Conservation Centre of the Finnish Craft Museum. I'd first contacted Anne - their lead conservationist - early last summer when I was pulling together some initial thoughts about this project and found out they had a large archive with many Täkänäs.

The Conservation Centre of the Finnish Craft Museum in Jyväskylä
Anne and her colleague were so helpful with my research, they'd laid out tables with many of the täkänäs they had in their collection and had called in some others from a nearby museum for me to see. As they were all dating anywhere from around 1970 back to 1850 we (myself and my translating assistant Ida) had to wear white gloves to protect the textiles from our handling of them. I always find it quite special to think I'm looking at something somebody made over 150 years ago, it makes me think alot about how things will be in archives 150 years from now cataloguing what we are all making...
Inside the Conservation Centre with many Täkänäs kindly laid out for my visit
Alot of time was spent up this ladder photographing all the Täkänäs
This täkänä was made by Eva-Irmeli Oksanen from wool
An example of a much older täkänä, made between 1888 - 1950 by an unknown student
This shot shows how the reverse is the opposite in regards to colour
Some of the täkänäs have much shorter fringing like this black/red one above
It was quite common for the weaver to put their initials in the corner of the täkänä
After a full day indoors a walk in the evening sun seemed like a good idea so Ida and I headed down to the huge frozen lake that Jyväskylä sits next to and wandered out onto it - a perfectly normal practice in these parts I was assured! I witnessed walkers (dogs and humans), cyclists, skiers and joggers all taking part in evening activities on the lake. It felt very alien to me to be crunching through fresh snow on top of a lake but it was very beautiful...
Footprints in the snow on the frozen lake at Jyväsklyä
It's hard to tell where land ends and lake begins in the winter
More to follow...

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