Hello from Arteles!
This artist residency organisation is situated about 40kms from the city of Tampere and a 2-hour train ride from Helsinki. Occupying an old school house, Arteles plays host to up to 10 artists at any one time. For the month of December myself and the other artists here are undertaking a themed residency focussing on Silence, Existence, Awareness. As December is the darkest month of the year, it provides an opportunity to reflect, be immersed in the local landscape and spend some quiet time on our various projects.
Arteles, I’m staying at the far end of the building on the left.
One of my key reasons to travel all the way to Finland was to be able to immerse myself in an environment that was foreign to me, and respond to this experience phenomenologically.
In order to do this I have made a plan to go for a walk every day, regardless of the weather conditions. So far I’ve been lucky - while it’s been snowing a lot it hasn’t been colder than about -6 degrees. Apparently we’re in for some colder weather in the next week or so.
One of my walking rules is to go without a camera, audio recorder or any other means of recording the experience while I’m having it. My aim is to walk mindfully, pay attention to my sensory experiences and ‘write them up’ after the walk.
I have cheated once and taken my camera with me. It was fascinating to see how differently I walk when I have the option of taking photographs. My attention is focussed differently and I will spend time going off the path, stopping and taking multiple photos. I’m not judging this as good or bad, just a very different way of encountering my surroundings, and interesting to observe and try to articulate to myself.
Another observation I’ve made is how my attention moves around. I will be walking and observing my environment looking out at the horizon, noticing the light or the clouds or the velvet expanses of snowy fields and my attention will switch to feeling my feet crunch or sink into snow, the bite of wind on my cheeks and the sound inside my clothes as I walk. My attention shifts again and I begin to describe the experience to myself in my head, or start to think about something I read before I came out, and I become removed from the immediacy of my engagement with the surroundings.
The view from my window - early in the morning
It’s interesting what a cocoon my clothing provides - I can walk without really hearing my surroundings because I’m rugged up in layers of wool and cotton. Today I took my hood off when I heard a dog barking in the distance. As I listened for the dog bark I became aware of a proliferation of twittering noises coming from the forest. So many tiny birds darting to and fro in the trees. It took a few moments for me to be able to see the birds - so for a time the sound had no visual source - it was just this incredible, subtle, mobile twittering sound.
As well as the mindful walks I’m taking daily I’m also going out with the camera to photograph and video the surroundings. Below are a few shots from my first few days here.
I haven’t seen the sun or a blue sky for a few days - but in the first couple of days I was here it was glorious. The frozen lake above is not yet frozen enough to walk across. Apparently when it is frozen enough the Finns run car rallies on it.