Category Archives: Museums

Mänttä – a little Finnish town full of contemporary art (and naked men)

Yesterday we visited Mänttä, a little town 1,5 hours from Tampere (by car). It was a nice excursion, which we repeat almost every summer with my parents. “The dying industrial town” Mänttä has been able to do something admirable – it has converted into a lively centre of contemporary art! And now Mänttä is a bit stronger, as it was merged with the municipality of nearby Vilppula in 2009.

Mänttä Art Festival (Mäntän kuvataideviikot) is an event of contemporary art that represents mostly new Finnish visual work. There are some established names in the exhibitions, but the festival is also known as a show of experimental and daring art. The artists are invited every year by a different curator. The main venue is Pekilo, a converted factory now filled with art.

And then the verdict. For me, this year’s exhibition was OK, however I didn’t enjoy the it as much as last year – probably because of this year’s curator… for me, the exhibition could have been a lot more daring and focusing on one, interesting theme.

Anyway, there’s a lot more to see in Mänttä, as interesting exhibitions are held also in The Honkahovi Art Centre and in the two Serlachius museums: Gösta Joenniemi’s villa and Gustaf Serlachius Museum, which mostly tells about the centre of Mänttä life in old times – the Serlachius factory.

Here it all began – Serlachius paper factory in Mänttä.

The town has an important industrial past – it’s the former residence of industry magnate R. Erik Serlachius, who practically governed the town with his huge paper factory. The famous Finnish toilet paper Serla was born here. These big guys were luckily interested in arts and culture, too. The factory owner G.A. Serlachius and industry magnates Gösta, R. Erik and Gustaf Serlachius have all contributed to Mänttä becoming a flourishing art town. Now their great collection of famous artworks can be enjoyed by everyone in their museums.

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Pekilo – factory building converted into art museum. Quite ugly outside, full of contemporary art inside.

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Images from this year’s Mänttä Contemporary Art Festival main exhibition at Pekilo.

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This piece was composed by miscellaneous stuff found near the venue.

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At Honkahovi we enjoyed lunch (champignon soup) while admiring the peaceful lake scenery. The villa has also what was once the biggest one-piece window glass in the Nordic countries.

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Sculptures in the garden of Honkahovi by the lake.

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Joenniemi villa. Inside you can find some wonderful artwork from the Serlachius family collection.

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A typical old Finnish wooden house next to Joenniemi villa – inside there is a nice cafe-restaurant.

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We also passed by the centre of Mänttä – and saw some naked guys on the street. I would say this was the most daring performance I saw at the Contemporary Art Festival this year!

Credit of all these photos: Helsinkimylove

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Soulless supermarkets make your Monday blue

OK, Mondays are always bad but today was especially horrible. Getting up from bed was almost impossible, it was cold outside and I just missed the tram to work. The day continued with meetings without meaning, dullish routine tasks and a strong feeling of I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE AND TRAVEL TO A PARADISE ISLAND – NOW!!!

Well, a miracle didn’t happen so I tried to cheer myself up with some shopping – a trick that never works. Well, I found a skirt and a shirt  that I “really need”.

The anticlimax of the day was a visit to our supermarket, Alepa, where I stopped for some milk and fruit. The visit made me angry. Why? Because the Finnish supermarket scene is overdominated by a couple of companies and because of that we have no choice but to consume overpacked, tasteless products – produced sometimes too far from home. That’s so wrong!

A typical Alepa in a suburb of Helsinki. Grey. Credit: Alepa (I guess?)

Alepa belongs to Helsinki Cooperative Society Elanto (HOK-Elanto), which tells on its webpage that it “provides benefits and services for residents of the Greater Helsinki area.” The idea of 55 000 member-clients who own the company is nice. But of course it’s not that simple. They give us the typical green S-cards and small discounts but for that we suffer controlled prices and limited (bad) selection. I guess all the Alepa’s across Finland are packed with the same products. All this is just… sad.

Supermarket blues. Credit: HOK-Elanto

Only in Helsinki HOK-Elanto has over 300 stores. That’s a lot for for a relatively small city.

Of course, in old times everything was better. Many foreigner complain about these monopolized supermarkets (with a reason!) but before also we used to have small, cozy specialized shops for meat, milk, bread… like they still do in Southern Europe etc. It’s a tragedy that we have almost lost all that now – for a lot worse!

Even HOK-Elanto shops used to look nice. Customers buying meat in 1954.

Pharmacies used to look like this.

HOK-Elanto bread shop in 1930s. With a style.

More photos on Helsinki City Museum webpage.

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