Mirja Marsch: Stitches, Sequins and Fragments *

Friday morning (September 27th)  I was heading towards my Finnish class ** when the latest exhibition to be held at Malmitalo caught my eye. The gallery is situated to the left as you enter the main entrance and right at the foot of the stairs that lead to the second floor classroom area. Impossible to miss if you need to go upstairs.

The exhibitions generally run three to four weeks and feature different art-forms – photography, painting, textiles, mixed media etc. I popped my head in as the space had been empty earlier in the week and I wanted to see what the new exhibition was all about. Imagine my surprise and joy when I saw the first picture (actually the third one in the slide show below). Buttons, paint, sequins and a subject who was just oozing so much attitude that I wanted to reach out and touch her. I snapped a quick picture thinking I would send it to my mum or my sister – they are both up to their elbows in creative ventures. Quilts, beading, scarves and mixed media, you name it, they are creating it.

Then I looked around, and immediately gasped (with joy!). All around the room were similar pieces of art. So, camera in hand (phone really) I scooted around the gallery and snapped a quick picture of everything on display. Here is the gallery, along with the names, mostly Finnish with some English. My pictures really don’t do the work justice.

If you are in Helsinki in the very near future, I highly recommend that you get out to Malmi (connections are at the end of this post) and have a look at the exhibition. I grabbed a postcard and the bio of Mirja Marsch and read with interest that she is a member of the Finnish Felting Association. I did a felting course last year, and while my output was limited, I quite enjoyed the process of making felt!

The exhibition runs 26.9.2013 – 19.10.2013 in the Malmitalo Gallery. I will definitely share more about Malmitalo in the future. There is always something interesting there! Malmitalo is a multipurpose building in Malmi, close to the railway station and the bus terminal.

Getting there: P,I,N,K (yes Pink) trains from Helsinki to Malmi station (Note the trains themselves are not pink!). Bus 69, 70, 70T, 73, 73B, 73N, 76A, 76B, 77A, 78, 79, 512, 519, 520, 522 and 522K.

* The original title of this exhibition is Mirja Marsch Pistoja, Paljetteja ja Sirpaleita
** I’m studying Finnish at the North Eastern campus of Helsinki’s Finnish Adult Education School. The campus is just one part of Malmitalo.


Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns

This week’s photo challenge raises that rare dilemma: which pictures to choose?! I actually hit the pavements early yesterday morning and collected some very nice paving and cobblestone pictures. Then I remembered our visit to Galerie Anhava earlier in the summer. The artist in question was Pe Lang and the exhibition name was Moving Objects. The Engineer suggested that we visit this, and as soon as we entered the space I could see why! Lots of lines and patterns, moving, creating and recreating continually.

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All the items were constructed from electrical components, paper, magnets, cord and copper wire. No 502-519 was my favourite. It was so mesmerising, I could have watched the magnets floating up and down for hours. The Engineer was very taken with No 809, and even went so far as to find out how much it was. Needless to say, it was just a little out of our reach. Still, no harm in dreaming 🙂

Galerie Anhava is very centrally located and can be found here:

For information on current exhibitions and opening times,  visit Galerie Anhava.

For more interpretations of Lines to Patterns check out the comments on the weekly photo challenge post.

Disclosure note: The first time I visited Galerie Anhava was in 2009, for an exhibition called Contemporary Now. One of the exhibitors at that show (Shoji Kato) is a good friend of my mother-in-law. It’s a really nice cool spot to drop in to see the work of up and coming artists.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be on the water and visiting one of Helsinki’s pearls: Kaunissaari (Beauty or Beautiful Island). It’s a very interesting island, almost in the open sea, one side covered with thick forest and the opposite side featuring wind-swept rocks. Although it’s not a big island, 2 km long and about 800 metres wide, it takes a good couple of hours to walk around and savour the nature. I took the camera along with the intent to capture any pattern that caught my eye: some are man-made, some courtesy of mother nature. Unfortunately the battery was empty before my walk was finished, so I had to fall back on plan B, my phone!

Pine-cone Starfish
Pine-cone Starfish

I didn’t get very far before sight this was on the ground in front of me. The longer I looked at it, the more convinced I was that it was starfish that had been pulled apart.

As we made our way along the path it was very quiet. The ‘summer’ season has just started and there weren’t so many people on the island. The guest harbour was emptying as everyone started heading back to their home port.

Birch Forest
Birch Forest

There is something very haunting about a birch forest that has no leaves. Although it won’t be long and this forest will have its green cover on.


The forest floor close to the path was covered with this lovely valkovuokko (wood anemone) and when I stooped over taking this particular picture a couple passing by made a comment joking that I should hurry as there weren’t many around 🙂

 The island has plenty of facilities for day visitors and campers alike. There’s a dog park, saunas to rent, a very cute little cafe, oversized board games and a meandering nature path. Before we got to the nature path there was something we had to take care of though! Coffee and pulla, the staples of Finnish social life.

Nautical Theme
Nautical Theme

Nothing says nautical quite like red, blue and sails. This was inside the cafe looking back to the large sheltering umbrella’s on the terrace. While I was fluffing around with the camera a customer came in to charge his phone. That’s one thing to remember, there’s no electricity service. Strictly candles, grills and generators.

Oversized Chess Pieces
Over-sized Chess Pieces

Remember the over-sized board games? You weren’t sure exactly what I meant were you? If chess is not your thing also on offer are darts, volley ball and the age-old favourite of chilling in a hammock with a good book!

Wood Stack Art
Wood Stack Art

There is an art to stacking wood. It takes an extra special talent to make your wood-stack look like… an Angry Bird perhaps!

Weathered wood
Weathered wood

If you are interested to visit Kaunissaari, you can catch a ferry from Vuosaari. The journey takes approximately one hour each way. Alternatively, if you have access to a boat of your own, head to the sheltered guest harbour at the end of the island.

I’ll leave you with this detail of a cabin up close.

By the way, please let me know what you think of the pictures all the way down the left and the text on the right. I thought I’d try something new and now it feels like it doesn’t quite work. I might just have to come back and do some editing later.

So if you want to see other entries from this week’s challenge, head over to here and follow the ping-backs!

Some lessons learnt….

I ran a little competition last month. Luckily three answers arrived, so each contestant will receive a prize. I’ll be in touch with each of you soon. Thank you very much for taking part!

However, I didn’t really think things through properly.
Next time I start a competition I will promote it! Everywhere. Relying on the strength of the words ‘competition’ in these early days obviously is poor planning.
Next time I start a competition I will ask others to help promote it. There is a time when doing EVERYTHING yourself is right and there is time when you should admit that a little help goes a long way 🙂
Next time I start a competition I will promote the prizes as well. I’ve just realised that the prizes were mentioned only once. What’s more there were no pictures of them anywhere.
Next time I start a competition it will NOT coincide with the beginning of the end of the school year and more classes and assignments than the rest of the year put together.
Did I mention that next time I will promote it better?

will be in June. In the meantime, have a look at this picture:

Cultural Sauna / Kulttuurisauna
Cultural Sauna / Kulttuurisauna

It’s the eagerly awaited, recently opened Kulttuurisauna (Cultural Sauna). While it is open, there is a dearth of good information about it (Finnish or English). Sauna Flow had a very nice post last year and World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 also had an interesting piece at the beginning of the project. I can tell you it is open Wednesdays through Sundays, and capacity is 40. I am very much looking forward to visiting and using the sauna for myself.

Yobot Have Announced Their Return

A picture really is worth a thousand words… and this one says it all!

Yobot Announce Their Return
(Photo credit: Yobot)

Not only that, the re-opening party invites have been sent out and you’re invited too (as long as you are in Helsinki that is!) This Friday, December 14th 2012 from 16:00 until 21:00. Remember the address? No matter, here it is again: Runeberginkatu 54 A, Helsinki! They’ve got new treats and toppings, so drop in and say hello to the Yobotian team. They’re ready to go!

For the new readers of Heather’s Helsinki, please check out my earlier Yobot entries here and here.

Now the business and the personal sides of my life are overlapping. I’ve written about my very small part in this adventure over here. I hope you are as excited by this as I am 🙂

Helsinki’s Tall Spots # 1

An alternative title might be how high can you go? Helsinki’s skyline is quite low and characterised by a distinct lack of dominating high-rise buildings. This doesn’t mean that there is a lack of high places or look-outs that you can visit and enjoy a view of the city and surrounding environs.

This past weekend (August 26th, 2012) we were able to visit the lighthouse Söderskär, situated in the Porvoo archipelago in the Gulf of Finland (60° 6′ 33.6″ N, 25° 24′ 36″ E). Technically this is not part of Helsinki. However as you are able to reach the island and the lighthouse by ferry * from Helsinki, I’m invoking author privilege to include the experience for you also!


Söderskär is also a participating lighthouse in the lighthouse tourism group that has been set up to promote the lighthouses of Southern Finland and Estonia. Earlier in the summer we visited Utö, where we first heard about the lighthouse passport. Unfortunately, we didn’t take up on the offer to start collecting stamps. If we had, then this weekend we could have collected stamp # 2.

We were arriving under our own steam from the east, and even from a distance, the lighthouse is quite majestic.

Söderskär from afar

As always, the weather is key factor in the enjoyment or otherwise of outdoor activities. This particular day was warm, sunny and with a mild sea-breeze in the afternoon. We were not alone in taking advantage of the weather to visit. There were many boats moored around the small inlets and attached to the jetty. The island is off-limits to visitors for much of the spring and early summer due to bird nesting season. We arrived mid afternoon at the same time as the water police. They were on a ‘tour’ of archipelago harbours making sure that everybody was behaving themselves 🙂

Söderskär Prices

As with any visitor harbour, there is a price list of services. In 2012 an overnight stay will cost 12 € per boat, while a guided trip up the lighthouse is 14 €. You can also climb without the guide (and miss the story) for 10 € per person **

The lighthouse is situated on Majakkasaari (Lighthouse Island), while the mooring spots are situated on Luotsisaari (Pilot Island). That means that in order to reach the lighthouse you must first cross the (swinging) bridge:
Swinging Bridge at Söderskär

There was only capacity for three persons at a time, and walking over was not too uncomfortable, a little bit of bounce. I imagine that any more than three would create a large amount of swing!

It was a little bit disorganised at the base of the lighthouse. There were no real instructions about where or how to pay, also whether cards were welcome or not. In the end we paid at the base and then continued forward. We passed some groups along the way, fortunately when we climbing up there were only a few people heading back down.

I’m not going to write too much about the lighthouse itself, although I will give you a few links in order for you to find out something that YOU are interested in. I’d much rather give you a few hints than force feed you lots of information that is irrelevant to you. The lighthouse page has some information in English, the accommodation page tells about the suite available inside the lighthouse for overnight stays. I’m quite sure that it’s not possible this year (the season will be ending September 19th, 2012), perhaps we could organise ourselves to stay one night next year. Lighthouse Tourism also has some information and I found some very nice information about the current usage of island from the Forestry administration pages.

Söderskär: Up close and personal

My picture does not do it justice. There is something has very wonderful about old buildings (150 years young this year!), especially those that are built-in places where they are exposed to the extremes of nature.

The interior of the lighthouse is also used as a gallery space, and this summer there were works by Saara Kiuru, Paavo Halonen and Salla Savolainen. I really liked Halonen’s pieces, especially these swans (page 9 of the pdf). Of course it goes without saying that the view from the top is extraordinary. The light mechanism is still in place and glass is so beautiful:

Söderskär light

I was so busy walking around taking in the view, admiring the light and watching some young lads test aerodynamics of their paper planes that I forgot to look up. Rest assured the boys actually collected their flying machines afterwards, even taking a small runabout to collect the ones that made it into the sea! When I did look up, this was what I saw:

Söderskär ‘Lions’

Lions! With very long tongues for taking the water away. Touches like this will always bring a smile to my face. We descended back to ground level and into one of the main building where we discovered the lighthouse shop, complete with the ability to pay by card. Lesson of the day: ask! The shop had some very nice memorabilia, and if I wasn’t so keen on reducing the amount of things I bring home I could have been very tempted by the mugs, key-chains, pins and a very nice book. There was also an outdoor café selling tea, coffee and some very yummy looking pancakes. On way or another, we will definitely return, the only question remaining: this year or next?

* Ferry companies that offer trips to Söderskär in 2012 are:

Marival II (from Vuosaari) 40 € per adult (includes ferry trip & guided tour), 20 € for children (7-15)

Royal Line (from the marketplace) 49 € per adult (includes ferry trip & guided tour), 25 € for children (7-16); buffet lunch available for purchase onboard.

IHA Lines (from the marketplace) Cruises to Söderskär appear to be reserved for groups rather than individuals.

** This is what happened to us because we didn’t realise that card payment was possible inside the lighthouse keepers building. Our cash didn’t stretch so far… Definitely next time we take a guided tour too!

Helsinki’s Hidden Treasures # 1

This post is written on the go and regrettably I’m not able to upload any pictures at this point.

Did you know that Helsinki City owns parcels of land outside the city limits? One of those parcels features as today’s Hidden Treasure: Elisaari.

Elisaari is an island located off the Hanko peninsula, heading west from Helsinki. It provides a sheltered guest marina; camping ground; saunas and cottages to rent; a nature path with signage along the way and during summer months a kiosk. The kiosk stocks all the basic necessities and also you can order fresh bread or munkki for breakfast from the local manor house!

To reach the island if you are driving head for Barösund and take the ferry from there.

Hints: book your sauna 24 hours in advance; the rocks overlooking the harbour spots hold the summer heat nicely.

Information in English