The sea takes, the sea brings
The summer exhibition at the Ostrobothnian Museum examines the role of the sea in art and cultural history.
The sea is constant on the Finnish coastline and in the archipelagos. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the sea offered livelihood, profession and a thoroughfare. At the same time, sea was unpredictable and could take away as fast as it had given.
The sea was also a symbol of movement and change. Ships transported goods and people, as well as new thoughts, ideas and influences. Throughout centuries, waterways have connected Finland to the Baltic region, continental Europe and even more faraway lands.
Finland is easily seen as a secluded country far behind the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Bothnia, but especially on the coast, the sea has shaped and moved people’s lives throughout history, says the curator of the exhibition, art historian Tuija Peltomaa.
The exhibition displays several works from artists such as Oscar Kleineh, Berndt Lindholm and Victor Westerholm, who are known for their marine themed works. In addition to these, there are works from artists who are rarely associated with marine art. Alongside ships and the open sea, the theme is examined through archipelago and coastal landscapes, and depictions of ports and people. In the exhibition, the sea represents a natural environment, a provider of work and livelihood as well as a place of leisure.
There are over 70 works of art from the mid-1800s to the 1950s on display in the Ostrobothnian Museum. During this time, Finland slowly moved from a rural to a more urban society. On the coast, cities with active ports and many languages and cultures rose next to small fishing communities. Both traditional lifestyle and modern phenomena are present in the works of the exhibition and the subjects they portray.
The impact of seafaring on the lives of those on the coast is illustrated. The exhibition explores the division of labour between sexes, the livelihoods created by the growth of port cities, and the effects of shipwrecks or other misfortunes on the lives of families and communities. There are also objects on display chosen from the cultural historical collection of Vaasa’s museums, which concretely portray the impacts of seafaring in the Vaasa region.
The exhibition is organised in cooperation with the Association of Finnish Fine Arts Foundations (STSY ry). The association was founded in 2006. The members of the association are the Alfred Kordelin Foundation, the Fortum Art Foundation, the Gösta Serlachius Fin Arts Foundation, the Signe and Ane Gyllenbergs Foundation, Art Foundation Merita, the UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundation and the Åbo Akademi University Foundation. The OP Art Foundation was the latest member to join the association in 2018.
The association organises annual art exhibition in museums around Finland. The members’ art collections comprise thousands of artworks dating from the 15th century to the present day and include many nationally and internationally renowned works of art.
Free entrance to the exhibition on World Oceans Day, Saturday 8th of June.
Image: Berndt Lindholm: Marine Landscape. The Fortum Art Foundation. Photo: Rauno Träskelin.