selection of drawings
MEMORY - series; on-going
Recollections, 30cm diameter each, graphite & oil on handmade paper, 2021
Close-up detail from Paula's Lace Top no. II, 80 x 80 cm, graphite on paper, 2020
I Remember, 150 x 150 cm, graphite on paper, 2017-2018
Making of I Remember from June 2017 to October 2018; at the studio with Carol Dine
Memory Nuclei -set of graphite drawings on card, 28 x 28 cm each. Total of 100.
The Memory-series started when I discovered numerous crochet lace items in my late aunt’s belongings. She had lived a troubled life isolating herself from everybody after her husband died many years ago. The discovery of beautiful hand knitted lace in vast piles was a revelation. A story of endless hours spent alone started to unravel and made me think of the skills and the tradition; the way women choose to, or are expected to, spend their time preparing beautiful craft pieces, quietly, at home. There was a time when these skills were proof of being a good woman; a good wife would come with an impressive dowry, with evidence of capability to create a home, to provide and look after.
I wanted to celebrate my great aunt’s skills and honour her heritage. She had no children, no one to pass on her craft. The exquisite lace items started to represent the family, the life of women, the expectations, and the demands for beauty. But looking beyond the beauty, another life was revealed – the isolation, the anxiety, the difficulties with getting along. Pieces of the puzzle of her life started to fall in place when dementia was finally diagnosed and the obsessiveness of making was no longer a choice, but a chore – a desperate attempt to survive.
Only after her death, we were able to understand that dementia might have been a part of my aunt’s life for a long time. The fragility of life was suddenly imbedded in her beautiful lace objects. I brought them from Helsinki to my studio in London. Since then I have been working on a series of lace drawings where the thread is replaced with a continuous graphite line as I try to make sense of my own family history and what it means to be a woman in today’s world. (See a few drawings from the series below.)
You never really understand what dementia means before you experience it closely, before it ‘hits home’. My great aunt was not the only one with a memory illness in my family. Since her death, we have lived through Alzheimer’s too. That series of drawings is still very much on-going and I am unable to put it into words yet. ‘I Remember' and 'Memory nuclei’ graphite drawings as well as ‘Tripoli 1978’ video drawing are from this series.
Shavings (big II) - series (150 x 150 cm) graphite on paper, 2015
Exhibition view: Frank Bowling RA, Daniel Reynolds, Elisa Alaluusua - Art From the Pullens (2015)