Baltica! Part 2 – Installations, Photographs, Paintings, Textiles

in Art/Spotlight

Curator and artist Jude Cowan Montague creates an enormous wall of oil/acrylics on aluminium which she says:  “represents the wall between my family, the wall of mystery between my relations, if any were still alive, and ourselves in Scotland and England, and the separation of ourselves from a mythical homeland…The wall is about my lost ancestry which led me to put on the show. I have a missing link, always told me by my father, a man who came from Curonia to Scotland by ship, a sailor He came from a land that no longer exists, Old Prussia, East of Poland and our family would have spoken a language that no longer exists, Old Prussian, a Baltic language like Latvian and Lithuanian. Or he may have been Jewish. I like the ambiguity. The piece is called – He Had a Star Tattoo on his hand- ”.

He Had a Star Tattoo on His Hand – Jude Cowan Montague

Coincidentally it is also metaphor many of the artists have used in the show.  It can refer to the iron curtain that ran through these countries, between stories and actual events, remembered love and present rage, the act of remembering and forgetting…

Triinu Soikmets – Visual Stories via States n Souls – 2016-2019

Triinu Soikmets’ Visual Stories via States n Souls, 2016-2019, are photo books documenting journeys and studies undertaken elsewhere, bridging between belonging and travelling, learning and therapy, observation and immersion. She hangs a lace curtain to one side of two prints, on the other side of which her digital books hang too, on strings off the wall suggesting both a meta-space, transcending ordinary physical space, and a conceptual space, inhabited by meta-objects.

Silja Manninen – Triptych – 2020

Hanging from the ceiling, ethereal white dresses spin silently. Silja Manninen’ Triptych 2020 “Restless waves hide secrets of the past in the abyss. Memories of tomorrow” created from recycled and plant dyed silks were inspired by the Baltic Sea. The slow deterioration of this rare and beautiful ecosystem shared by many nations is something that concerns Silja. She says “Triptych is an evolving piece that will continue developing to mirror the slow but inevitable changes in the Baltic”.

Gzillion Artist – Baltichitecture 2020

Gzillion Artist’s Baltichitecture 2020 creates the three Baltic States out of glass, perspex, metal and timber. “My work is a sculpture made of 9 transparent glass prisms clamped together representing the the 3 Baltic states. The glass brings in connotations of ice referring not only to the weather but also to the geopolitical position and fragility of the three small countries. The clamps pressing the prisms together adds to this feeling of pressure. But, on another note, the clamps could also refer to the deadly embrace of civilisation on nature, the glass symbolising the melting ice cap and glaciers, due to the reckless expansion of human activity. “

Jüri Arrak – Idols 2017. Pictures on the Wall, 2015. In the Backyard, 2017. The Wall, 2017. Incomprehensible Conversation, 2017

Jüri Arrak, a well-known Estonian artist, brings his storytelling illustrative powers to the show. Vaguely disquieting melting heads and fluid forms create a picture book narrative on the factory walls.

Anne Isaksson – Some Blue Behind, 2019

Anne Isaksson looks at landscapes:  “What brings me to making is a desire to be part of an idea and to find a form which represents it. It interests me how ideas can be distilled into something so simple.” A ploughed field; the sky behind a winter hedge; cables hanging across the sky, are all subject to her intense scrutiny in the photographs she presents here.

Mandy Prowse – Strong Dress for Nata – 2020

Mandy Prowse’s ‘Strong dress for Nata: “is inspired by the memory of my Latvian grandmother, Natalija Irma Lovett-Turner (nee Tile), we had a long relationship where I learnt many good things about life and love and creativity. Giving flowers is a tradition in Latvia, she loved flowers and painted them. I chose these flowers because they reminded me of her cross-stitch cushions”. 

Cassandra Mahoney – We all just live one life, 2020

The six Cassandra Mahoney oils: ‘We All Just Live One Life’ focus on Mira Kalamanaviciute, a seven year old Lithuanian Jewish girl who escaped to Russia from the Nazi invasion in 1941. Mira was at a children’s summer camp at the time, from there, thanks to quick thinking camp leaders, they were put onto a train for Russia. En route, it was bombarded by German planes but the sharp-witted driver managed to steer the train into a forest for cover. After a long arduous journey she arrived safely in the Ural mountains. These oils follow her long life from escape to old age.

Natalja Jezova – Memory Traces, 2019.

In ‘Memory Traces’ 2019 Natalja Jezova  printed collages on tracing paper as a reminder of the separation pages in family albums, making the images look, she says, “mysterious and elusive”. Her own family suffered innumerable hardships during the 20th century with its pogroms, revolution, civil and world wars, some family members killed, others forced to leave their homes. These photographs, she says, confirm the identity and history of her family.

Meriliis Rinne – Boglands & Mythical Landscapes, 2020

Meriliis Rinne,  an Estonian artist living and working in London, uses recycled canvas in her  ‘Boglands and mythical landscapes’ paintings of the Baltics. She confesses to making them in part to allay the homesickness she has for the landscape and her anxiety about its fragile ecosystem.

Riitta Hakkarainen is a Russian Finnish artist, who dwells on her ancestry in ‘No Trace’ 2020 an installation involving moving parts, photography, robots, to create a theatrical piece that looks at  Petrovichi, where her great grandmother and Isaac Asimov were born. The township was more-or-less physically erased and the houses they once lived in are now fields.

Riitta Hakkarainen – No Trace 2020

Performances were also part of the show with singers, musicians and even a Crow Lady who gave out apples!

Paola de Ramos – Performance

Submerged Tallinn in 3047, by Ann Grim’ is, she says: “A speculated bird’s eye view of the The Baltic Sea in 3047, and more specifically above Tallinn. This possible future scenario of Earth’s surface submerged by the waters, allows the viewer to imagine a migratory crisis, underwater worlds and space conquest. An invitation to explore the links between the living: place, belonging, happiness, hopes and the perception of the future.”

Ann Grim’ – Part of Diptych Leaving Gaia, 2018

Just to keep spirits up, a performance of ‘Vasily’s Underpants’ by Jude Cowan Montague, Riita Hakkarainen and Umia K added a fine flourish to the event!

Writer, poet, working on expanded novel, making poetry with artists, putting work in unusual public places

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