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Icebergs, tranquility and barren landscapes - Embassy of Finland, London : News & Current Affairs


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News, 15/08/2008

Icebergs, tranquility and barren landscapes; photographs by Tiina Itkonen

Finnish photographer Tiina Itkonen will hold an exhibition at Michael Hoppen Contemporary Gallery from the 3rd of September until the 10th of October. The exhibition is built around photographs of icebergs and the unique landscape of Greenland.

Tiina Itkonen was chosen as the Young Photographer of the Year in Finland in 2003 and reached a place in the final in the Fotofinlandia competition. She started her studies in 1992 and has studied photography in the Turku School of Art and Communication and has a Masters of Art degree from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki.Itkonen has had numerous solo exhibitions both in Finland and abroad. In addition her works have been featured in collections around the world.She travelled to Greenland for the first time in 1995 to do her diploma work in photography. She has since revisited the island numerous times. She fell in love with the barren nature, the breathtaking landscape and the good-hearted people of the island.

Itkonen has depicted both the lives of the Polar Eskimos, who live in the most northerly part of Greenland, as well as the arctic landscape. She describes the lack of haste, the friendliness of the people and the silence of the glaciers as the characteristics which compelled her to return. For the past three years she has concentrated mostly on captivating the unique essence of the icebergs.  Itkonen's new book, which focuses on icebergs will be published shortly. Her last book brought out the extraordinary aspects of the lives of the Polar Eskimos through insightful photographs. Her photographs are breathtaking and in a very forthright way honest in their simplicity.

Stillness, tranquility and peace are the characteristics that draw her to Greenland. "I find it great to be without schedules." The time spent with the Polar Eskimos in Northern Greenland taught her that one can just be. "You do not have to be doing something all the time. It is a way of life, without haste. I have learnt to enjoy the silence. I actually miss it when I am in Helsinki." She says that in Greenland people always have time for each other.

Itkonen usually spends at least two months in one place. "My pace is slow when I am taking pictures. I want to see how the same landscape changes during different seasons and different times of day. Weather also changes the atmosphere completely; the sun, the rain and even the fog have a distinct effect on how the photograph evolves." The right moment to take the picture can sometimes take days at a time. "I take my best photographs when I am by myself for a long time, when I have my own privacy."

The atmosphere in her pictures comes across even if the person has never been to Greenland. "My experience of the landscape shows in my photographs. The landscape is so vast and nothing is blocking the view. I also think the tranquility comes across." She also mentions the issue of global warming and how photographs of the breathtakingly beautiful arctic sceneries can make people think about their own contribution to the fight against the universal threat.   

Itkonen is utterly inspired by icebergs. "The different shapes, sizes and colors...I can look at them for hours. I get carried away with the whole experience, the stillness and the incredible vastness of the scenery."  

Itkonen's open-minded attitude towards a different way of living is truly refreshing. It is particularly evident when looking at her work that she feels right at home in Greenland among the Eskimos. That is one of the main reasons why her exhibitions capture the essential aspects of their way of life and the unique atmosphere. She still has many friends in Greenland and says she will definitely visit the island again.

Tiina's exhibition titled Ultima Thule is on show at Michael Hoppen Contemporary Gallery.


Text: Sofia Pöyhönen, Embassy of Finland





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Updated 28/08/2008

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