Blairbeich Art Project, Sari Lievonen

 

 

 

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Through the woods                                                          For the Artists CV click here.  Or here for more works by Sari Lievonen

I spent my childhood, and the early years of my adulthood, in Northern Finland, just a couple of hundred kilometres south of the Arctic Circle. In my youth I practiced a lot of different kinds of sports competitively. Thus, for me the natural contact with the landscape was to race through it – to run or to push along with my cross-country skis or to try to find the hidden spots where the crosses lie while doing orienteering. Most of the time these activities were obviously supposed to be done as fast as possible.

Occasionally, in the autumn, my family would go looking for wild berries or mushrooms to pick; but certainly woods did not represent for me a place where to contemplate on art or other aesthetic experiences. My early art education consisted of learning ballet and classical music.

Into the glens and mountains

After working as a performer and choreographer in dance and theatre for 15 years, my art practice had arrived at a crossroads, where it seemed that neither the medium of dance nor theatre were the most appropriate way forward. Over the years I had already become increasingly involved with visual arts, among other things creating many performance art works in the 1990’s.

It was time to embark on a new journey. I moved to Glasgow, Scotland. Besides studying at The Glasgow School of Art, another motivation to relocate myself to this country was the prospect of practicing more frequently my new passion - walking and camping in the wild. During my first five years in Scotland, I spent most of my free time with the elements, crossing the glens and rivers, traversing the bealachs to walk for days, to detach myself from being a city dweller who used to dance all day long. Eventually my walking practice provided a vital research method, to become part of my art practice that took place in the city studio.

To contemplate on time

Though my recent art practice has strongly been influenced by my walking and camping practice, I have always considered myself very much as a studio based artist, whose practice is concerned with issues that touch both the urban and the non-urban contexts. Thus, when Mrs Malla Macdonald offered me the opportunity to use her land to develop my practice, I felt it was a rather new and different prospect for me to research, with the aspiration to create new work.

I started getting acquainted with the site in April 2008. It has been a wonderful experience to work and experiment slowly throughout a year’s cycle, to see the seasonal changes in the same environment, and what it takes to try to generate work that would be in conversation with it’s altering surroundings. What I did not expect was that this project would also be a fascinating homecoming for me. The site has a certain Scandinavian sense to it. I have had the opportunity to dig and unveil my roots and my relation to landscape - and without having to race through it!

Thank you very much, Malla.