The 3D3 Residential this year was hosted by the University of Lapland which is in Rovaniemi, Finland. The 3D3 cohort travelled to the North Pole via Helsinki, our aeroplane greeted by Santa and his sleigh and huge towering Reindeers. We stayed on campus in the University’s guest accommodation (some of the rooms had en-suite saunas!) and were made thoroughly welcome by the Faculty of Art and Design.
Along with visits to Santa Claus Village and Bilberry picking in the forests our trip involved talks by many of the research staff. Finland has a long history of engaging with practice as research so it was incredibly interesting to hear about the diverse work they were undertaking.
Professor Tuija Hautala-Hirvioja talked to us about the history of the indiginous Suomi population whose territory extended across the top of Finland and Scandinavia. Many of the craft traditions have been continued with many Suomi artists questioning their heritage, identity and cultural placing, within their work.
Professor Eija Timonen presented the work she has been conducting with ice. The environment is very important to the Finnish, temperatures descend to -40 and below in the Winter and in a period known as ‘Kaamos’ (roughly end of Dec – February) the sun does not rise at all. In the Summer the sun will only set for a few hours a night. These extreme conditions mean that people are very aware of the weather and their surroundings. Timonen observes the ice as it thickens and thaws across the seasons. She documents the changes through photography and film, often sawing through large chunks of ice to extract and place objects behind it in colourful photographic compositions. Whilst she does not record the sounds it makes she talked dynamically about the noises and rhythms the ice creates. Timonen creates cut out collages from her photographs that she displays as installation pieces, the spaces between the photographs and the shadows cast by them becoming as important as the photographic images themselves. She frequently collaborates with other practitioners and has produced a range of clothing and textile pieces.
Professor Jaana Erkkila was our primary host and she couldn’t have been more welcome and generous. Erkkila is a printmaker but the process she wanted to share with us in her lecture was more about modes of reflection than her personal practice. Erkkila began the Slow Lab at the University of Lapland as a response to the bureaucratic structure of academia where academics who are ‘paid to think’ lose their reflection time to administrative tasks and teaching because of a culture where busyness rather than productivity is championed. The Slow Lab opened a space where people could come and think. The only rule was that you weren’t allowed to do anything in the space that was constructive, for example write a journal article or funding application, knit socks, make work. The space was a place to celebrate idleness and a need to un-think. The Slow Lab also holds events where staff members can come together, to cross divides, and collaborate through activities such as cake making, where the end result is not a measurable output, but rather an opportunity to get to know each other, improving working relations across the University.
We were invited to show our work in the University’s public space, Gallery Kopio. The exhibition presented work by staff and students from the 3D3 Consortium. I displayed 48 Colour Maps which I’d been working on. The maps represent the changes in Hue, Saturation and Brightness values of 24 Pantone Colours which had been printed onto different fabrics (wool, linen, cotton and silk), measured with a spectrophotometer and the LAB values converted into HSB. These were then plotted as squares on a Hue circle and compared with the original screen colour. The changes in value were used to predict an average colour change for printing on fabric which was visualised on a second colour map (each hue had 2 maps). The exhibition remained open until the end of September even though our residential finished on 27th August.
It was a wonderful trip. Very thought provoking and a great way to experience other cultures and discuss work with the other 3D3 students and staff in a really supportive environment.