Elina Helkala – In Memoriam
August 12 @ 11:00-October 3 @ 17:00
What will exist in the world after mankind is gone, or what would the world be like if mankind had never existed? These questions form the starting point for Elina Helkala’s solo exhibition at the Vaasa City Art Gallery. The artist is preoccupied by our unsustainable exploration of nature. She deals with this theme by using a very special technique and material: To Helkala, fire is a working tool, which in all its beauty and destructivity plays an important part in the birth process of her works.
The main material of the works is wood in its different forms. The artist has developed a technique she calls fire painting, which consists in carbonizing plywood. First, she cuts out layers in the surface, and after that she carbonizes the surface with a flame. The grains of the plywood layers running in different directions appear, producing a powerful layer-by-layer effect. The artist then adds different materials to the surface, such as leaf gold or pigment painting.
In her works, Elina Helkala deals with environmental catastrophes caused by mankind, such as the global warming and the ongoing extinction wave. Her personal experiences of ground and forest fires during dry summers, as well as the great forest fires that have been raging all around the world in the last few years, provide the artist with material. She also studies the Anthropocene and its negative effects on people’s relationship with nature and animals as others. As a counterweight, she also deals with the kind of culture that respects nature.
The artist’s working process also contains a researcher’s perspective: history, nature and mythology are visible, but contemporary phenomena are also important themes in her work. Helkala combines the distant past with the present, as an artisan of ancient crafts, she has a wide knowledge of many artisan techniques and materials.
Elina Helkala (b. 1987) lives and works in Raisio. Helkala has graduated as a Visual Artisan from Kouvolan käsi- ja taideteollisuusoppilaitos (the Kouvola Academy of Handicraft and Design) and as an Artisan of Ancient Crafts from Lounais-Suomen käsi- ja taideteollisuusoppilaitos (The Academy of Handicraft and Design of Southwestern Finland). She is presently finishing her artist’s degree at the Turku University of Applied Sciences.
Photo above text:
Elina Helkala: After Polar Bears, 2017. Photo: Elina Helkala