Gwlad Aur / Kultamaa / Golden Land

Event Details

Maija Helasvuo | Mika Karhu | Riitta Kopra | Salla Laurinolli | Sampo Malin | Kukka Pitkanen | Simo Ripatti | Katri Stenberg | Anssi Taulu

Rhagolwg/Preview: 14/07/23 7yh / 7pm

Arddangosfa’n parhau tan Medi 9fed
Exhibition continues until Saturday 9th September

Oriel ar agor Dydd Mercher – Dydd Sadwrn 11yb – 9yh
Gallery open Weds – Sat 11am – 9pm

This exhibition marks the 10th anniversary of the Finnish/Welsh Artists exchange programme, which has been run by Maija Helasvuo (Finland) and Marja Bonada (Wales) since 2013.

Over the years, the programme has involved a wide range of Welsh and Finnish artists and has held exhibitions in Wrexham, Berlin, Hyvinkää, Lappeenranta and in 2021, in Hämeenlinna, the home of Ars-Hame, whose work will now be seen in Swansea for the first time. The title “Kultamaa” (Golden Land) refers to the county of Häme, where Ars-Häme are based. It is affectionately known as the Golden Land, because it is a very beautiful part of Finland, where a lot of arable crops such as wheat, corn and barley are grown.

Ars-Häme is an organisation of professional artists, which promotes art activity in the community. Similar to Elysium Gallery in Swansea and Undegun Arts in Wrexham, they also provide affordable studio space for their members.

Maija Helasvuo

In her work, sculptor Maija Helasvuo explores experiences of the limitations of life, as well as social relationships.

Helasvuo believes that art, which gives us the possibility of experiencing the abstract, can become a concrete and tangible reality through sculpture. The materials she uses are wood, ceramics, glass, and bronze.

Helasvuo has been chair of the Finnish Sculpture Association, and vice-chair of the Finnish Artists Association. At the moment, she works as chairperson of Toolbox Artists Cooperative, which has a Finnish/German gallery in Berlin.

In autumn 2020, Maija Helasvuo won a competition to make a large bronze sculpture which now has pride of place in the town.

Mika Karhu

In my art, I deal with people whose destiny or it’s characteristics have been silenced, and whose way of life is not recognised from the point of view of those who wield power. The work contains a selection of portraits that depict the presence of people who have been mistreated, those who have been subject to abuses of power and forgotten. They depict forgotten pain and loss of life

As an artist, I am interested in how power structures instill submissiveness, the emotional tensions, how it affects people, and why it is kept silent, even though its consequences are visible.

Mika Karhu, Artist, Doctor of Fine Art

Riitta Kopra

I look for small signs of hope. I also focus on things that may seem insignificant. Right now there are some kind of stories related to my work… and walking in the forest.

My work concerns everyday things, in which I try to find a greater meaning. For example, I am very interested in plants and the idea that we humans share the same planet with plants, which have lived here for a very long time; life has been here for a very long time.

There are many other inhabitants of our planet, different life-forms which are, of course, all part of this one universe.

I work three dimensionally using many different materials, sometimes I make videos. My work is usually quite minimalist, quite simple. I do quite a lot of “lost work”, the kind of work that never results in a finished piece, but then sometimes a thought condenses, and from that comes a piece of art.

The process is quite tough, it feels as if I know nothing about anything; not about art, nor about anything else. But I always continue.

Salla Laurinolli

Salla Laurinolli is an artist from Hameenlinna. Her works are mainly paintings, which deal with the relationship between observation, experience and imagination.

My painting is based on slow movement, especially walking through different kinds of landscapes.

Though the terrain varied, I observed in a similar way, my experiences of seeing are similar to each other and my work reflected this. I am interested in detail and build pictures of nature as my tool. The starting points of the works are manifestations of composting, rotting and drying out, from which I try to distance myself by painting.

I am attracted by the thought of freeing the observation I used as a starting place, of painting the invisible perception.

Sampo Malin


We used to need light to banish the darkness. Nowadays, our need is totally different. Familiar aesthetic forms and shapes remain, but the meaning of their use has changed.

Soundwatch answers the problematic echo of modern spaces, and the uncontrollability of background noise. The work brings a balance to the sounds echoing in the space, comparable to gentle candlelight. The work conforms to an environment of traditional candelabra and ceiling sconces, building in layers, using well defined properties of the material.

Kukka Pitkanen

Kukka Pitkänen is a Hämeenlinna-based visual artist. She works mostly with printmaking and drawings. In her works rhizones, grids and various organic forms often intertwine, reminding us that everything is ultimately connected and one.

The series “Floral Malfunctions” depicts the chaotic states of wilting, degrading and vanishing. The works are created using monotype technique. Besides multiple layers of colours, dried blooms and other parts of plants are printed into the works. They intertwine and create feelings and mental images more than precise pictures of plants.

Simo Ripatti

My works in the exhibition are interpretations of moments when perception without thinking can cause a vague feeling. The surprise of an abnormal situation can paralyze you before understanding the actual event. As if a safe situation suddenly became threatening or appeared different from reality.

Perception is the basis for connecting to reality, but only comparing with memory, questioning memory and perception, and conscious thinking form a reliable experience. In my opinion, it is in many ways the characteristic that defines the experience of this exhibition. The starting point of the exhibition is my idea of ​​the coincidences of existence and events and how they meet ones own understanding and thereby form a perspective.

Simo Ripatti is a Finnish visual artist whose works seek to subtly and unassumingly elucidate topics that are difficult to put into words. Space and its use are almost without exception the active elements in his works.

Katri Stenberg

Different root systems, branches and networks have interested me for a long time.

In my paintings I picture the plant’s roots and new shoots. I paint from observation, but in the painting, the roots and plants change into different kinds of symbols and stories about life’s various situations. The painting process and free interpretation are very important to me.

Plants in my paintings are often symbols of empathic life. In my work with plants, as I move about in nature, through the act of painting, I handle different thoughts and feelings.

The names of the works support the interpretation of the painting, e.g. “New Start”, “Roots and New Beginnings”, “Knotted-place”. Regarding roots, what fascinates me is the thought that life has its dark side as well as its light side. Under the earth intertwined networks grow while above ground the other parts of the plants grow together in the light.

My works are oil paintings on canvas or mdf panels.

Paintings are from the years 2022-2023

Anssi Taulu

“Organic City” is a serigraph documentation of the installation also named “Organic City”. In the works, architecture encounters the everyday, and makes visible the asymmetry between wear-and-tear and naturalness.

Sculpting is my way of analysing experiences. I examine our shared history and follow everyday phenomena like routines and rituals. Often the motives of these actions remain in the shadows. In my sculptures and installations, I try to uncover these hidden structures. Part of the impacts of our actions remain undetected, but some of them you can find in the environment. I am interested in multi-sensory experience, and this is why I like to create spaces that viewers can go inside; where it is possible to experience a different reality. Spaces that give you the feeling of desolation and solace simultaneously. My premier principles are transparency, lightness, and cyclicality. I’m attracted to the transition of places and objects which have lost their original purpose and therefore open the opportunity for new ideas. I often use different recycled materials, cardboard, plexiglass, wood, and readymade objects.