Sirpa Kärkkäinen: Trees are our lungs – exhibition about the gems, the ghosts and the forgotten on our backyards

Haltia light galleria 14.2.-7.5.2023

“What does a backyard in Helsinki entail? A small, secret thicket, a piece of land, where paths covered with pine needles cross each other, while rays of sun shimmer through the foliage. These backyards are for dog walkers, children playing, and those who wish to meditate on their own. These wastelands completed missed by the urban planners are a lifeline for town dwellers.”

For the artist Sirpa Kärkkäinen, the backyard also entails the pristine woods and small lakes of Espoo, Sipoo, and Vantaa. She has spent the last couple of summers walking, cycling and hiking in these landscapes. At the same time, the pieces for this exhibition were born.

Spending time in nature has taught Sirpa Kärkkäinen to let go of advance planning of the work. She is sure that you can imagine, what it is like to paint on a leaf constantly swaying in the wind. Or how rough a rock or bark is for a traditional paint brush. It is no coincidence, that the best pictures were created with tools offered by the nature itself. Tools such as a piece of grapevine left by a camper or a charcoal from a campfire.

As a result, every picture in the exhibition has a story behind it, an experience of the place and moment in time, when the picture was created. In addition to stories, some pictures also include short videos.

The Trees are our lungs exhibition pieces are divided into three categories:

The Appeared means goblins and forest elves, which appeared while I wondered around in the woods. The more time I spent there, the more of them I saw.

The Availed entail the pieces the artist found the material for in the nature, but which she then developed to meet my vision. Part of them were created instantly on the spot, while others needed more time to develop and were then placed to the right spot.

The Trailed are the traces of human beings, which Mother Nature takes a long, disappointed look at. They are abandoned and forgotten, in the backyards out of sight.

Sirpa Kärkkäinen welcomes you to visit the exhibition with these words: “While creating this exhibition, I felt happiness, joy and freedom. I sincerely hope you will get to experience the same feelings in this exhibition!”

Come and see!

Exhibition tickets and audio guide 13/8 €
With the Museum Card and under 7 year old, free of charge.
Buy tickets online

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Artist Sirpa A. Kärkkäinen

In 1989, I graduated as a painter from an art academy in Venice, and in 2009, as a Master of Fine Arts and art teacher from the University of Art and Design.

As a painter, after graduation, the artist focused on the media. She has done comics, illustrations and animations. As an art teacher, she has teached in several educational institutions. My current employer is Espoo School of Art.

She speaks fluent Italian. She is also a master in Italian philology and teaches Italian at the Institute of Adult Education in Helsinki.

Sirpa Kärkkäinen became interested in nature art three years ago, when she was doing a series of exercises in the field, at the Espoo School of Art. At that time, she familiarised herself with Richard Shilling’s works, which have been a source of inspiration for her for this exhibition, as well.


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