"This blog is not necessarily for lovers of art, it includes a variety of topics and whatever. I'm a painter who likes to know what's really going on in the world today. So you might find anything from Shamrocks to Salmiakki mentioned here on my blog. There will of course be some boring, factual and informational posts, but I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise!

And I might get a bit nostalgic now and then.

So you have been warned!"

- Alan Hogan

Showing posts with label Turku. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Turku. Show all posts

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy Independence Day Finland

Independence Day 

- Alan 


Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Blog of Two Cities!

Some of you reading this blog will probably know little about Finland, just as I did once upon a time. Most of what I knew usually involved snow, Santa Claus and film locations for old spy movies. Add to that names such as Mannerheim, Sibelius, Viren, Hyypiä, Räikkönen, Litmanen, Häkkinen, Grönholm, Lordi and that was about it for me. 
Ten years later including three years living here and the story has changed. I now know more about Finland, a lot more. 

Visitors to Finland will most likely arrive at Helsinki airport and continue on to the capital.  Helsinki’s a great place to start, full of all the amenities and attractions a modern city should have. There’s certainly no shortage of things to do and see. However, I would recommend seeing it in the summer months, as the winter cold might get a little uncomfortable if you’re not prepared, especially down by the harbour. I still get the chills thinking about all that ice on the harbour. Indeed, summer would be my preference in any case. In fact you might find yourself as surprised as I was on my first summer visit to Helsinki. It was a lot warmer than I expected, and there was so much colour in the city from a variety of trees, flowers and even the buildings. It can often have a sort of Parisian feel to it in a certain districts.

Helsinki Esplanade in the summer.

However, if you do have more than just a long weekend, I can recommend looking beyond Helsinki.
Yes, there’s a lot more to see in Finland, and unfortunately this blog post isn’t big enough to tell you everything. I’d love to tell you all about the nice nature spots I’ve seen and my encounters with deer, elks and snakes, but that’ll have to wait for another blog. 

Instead, I will tell you about another city in Finland which I discovered since moving here. It’s the oldest city in Finland and it lies about 150 km west of Helsinki. The city is called Turku and it is also known as Åbo to it’s Swedish-speaking inhabitants. However, I prefer to call it Turku, even though I have learned to speak Swedish. I’m not being biased or disrespectful towards any one language, it’s just that I find Turku is easier to remember and easier to say. And hey, if my hometown in Ireland sounded better in Irish I’d use it all the time, but for now it will always be ‘Dublin’. 

Anyway, here's a little video I made from some photos I took while visiting Turku. I hope it gives you a mild impression of the city.

Nowadays Turku is probably best known for constructing some of the largest cruiseliners in the world. Coming from a part of Europe that also produced large ships at one stage long ago, it’s great to get the chance to see these giants of the sea this time around. I can almost imagine what the shipyards of Belfast must have been like in their day. It's sad to see what happened to the industry back then. I believe however that they have finally found a new use for the Titanic's old yard. I recently found out it is now used as a facility for culture and film. In fact I found out from a documentary while watching a dvd movie that it has the largest indoor film-set in the world. The film I watched was a fantasy adventure made here called ‘City of Ember’. It’s good to see some enterprise, employment and rejuvenation being brought to this old part of Belfast.

Now you'll have to excuse me for rambling, I tend to get sidetracked in my typing sometimes. More often I forget my initial subject completely. I suppose I'm not getting any younger, and anyway I’m no Charlie Brown,... or is it Dan? ....I don't know anymore!!  
Anyway, getting back to Finland before I really do forget where I was, let me say a few more words about the city of Turku.  
Last summer during the month of July I was lucky enough to be presented with a voucher from some Finnish friends to a luxury spa hotel in the small town of Naantali near the city of Turku. This gave me the chance to spend some time in this part of Finland. Naantali is a nice place were the Moomins live, and you can read about it in a previous blog I posted by clicking the word Naantali here or at the end of this blog. Normally I would only go to Turku to take a ferry to Sweden or whatever, so I never got to a chance to see much of the area. The first thing I noticed about Turku was the larger number of public bars compared to Helsinki. Being Irish I’m probably more qualified than most to notice these differences. Maybe I’m wrong maybe I’m right, but there just seemed to be more bars in Turku!  I get the feeling that this is perhaps due to its big population of students. Then again, Helsinki has an even bigger population of students, so I don’t know why there aren’t more bars in Helsinki. I should check the facts and statistics out before writing any of this really, but hell, it's only my small observations that are at stake here! Or maybe I'm just conjuring up a subliminal message aimed at certain readers to make more bars! :)

I felt a more relaxed atmosphere as I walked about Turku. Was it because of the lazy river Aura running through it? Or was it the lack of traffic congestion I always see in Helsinki, I really don't know!  It put me in mind of two cities in Ireland, Cork and Dublin. The city of Cork can feel more relaxing than the capital city Dublin, which also has a lot of traffic congestion like Helsinki.
As in Ireland and perhaps in Finland, it’s a well-known fact that where there are students, there are bars! It's a social thing for many students. One such bar I discovered in Turku was an old converted schoolhouse called ‘Koulu’ (Finnish word for School). This is a big old building containing different sized rooms all full with school paraphernalia from bygone years. The bar serves a nice selection of beers and ales, some of which I believe are made here in their microbrewery. I was very tempted by the décor to stay and enjoy my pint indoors, but the warm sunshine outside got the better of me. And with the added bonus of a small bar in their beer-garden how could I resist!

Beer garden at 'Koulu' Pub, Turku.

Like a lot of European countries, Finland also has a few Irish-themed bars, most of them being in the major towns and cities. And Turku is no exception. Usually I prefer to go to a Finnish bar and meet the locals, but a lot of Finns seem to like their Irish bars and tend to party harder than any of us Irish, hence I usually end up in an Irish bar by the end of the night whether I like it or not!  
After spending my day walking around Turku, and popping into one or two Finnish bars and restaurants, I happily ended up in The Castle Irish bar. It was an average Irish-themed bar inside, with a good crowd of people, most of whom seemed Finnish, all having great fun, or as we Irish say "having a bit of craic!". In fact I didn't meet one Irish person there. The bar staff seemed to be mainly English I think, so they were friendly enough :) ... And they served a nice pint of Guinness!  
It's a shame it was so expensive though, I could have drank a lot more. There were a few good singers performing in the bar that evening. Two Finnish guys singing covers of their favorite songs. A good night's entertainment!

During my evening in the Castle bar I had the honour of bumping into a local guy called 'Tumppi' (see photo above). I remembered him from a video I found on YouTube last year. He made a very informative tourist video for the city of Turku featuring himself and his dry brand of humour. 
You can watch his little video clip here,

While the Christmas lights are truly packed away now in Turku, people are still persevering with the cold Finnish winter and there's a desire to see the snow disappear at some stage. Christmas is a busy time in most places, and Turku is no exception. In fact, Turku is traditionally known as the Christmas town here in Finland, so I imagine some extra attention is required every year. And those busy people responsible for organising it down at Turku City Hall can't put their feet up just yet, because another party of sorts has just begun.
Indeed, Turku happens to be sharing the title of European Capital of Culture 2011 with Talinn this year. This title brings with it many roles for the city in promoting itself as a true centre for the arts and culture in Europe. A host of activities and exhibitions are planned throughout the year involving many local artists and public events from the city of Turku. The schedule has already started recently with the official opening ceremony. In case you may have missed it, here it is, all 35 minutes of it!!
......So stick the kettle on and grab some biscuits!!

Here's that link I promised for the blog on my visit to Naantali.

Share this blog!

Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.

- Alan 


Check out this Finnish band from Turku called Magenta Skycode, they're pretty good. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Magenta in March!

While the colour green may get a mention here in Finland during the month of March, the colour 'Magenta' may also feature prominently in the news. As myself and many other people prepare for the 'greening' of St.Patrick's Day here in Finland next month a band called 'Magenta Skycode' bring their mellow sounds on tour around the country.

'Magenta Skycode' are a Finnish band based in the city of Turku, 150km west of Helsinki. Their music is a sublime mix of easy tones and pleasant melodies. Think of bands such as Iceland's 'Sigur Rós' and Irish band 'God is an Astronaut' and you will be in the right ballpark. This music drags you in hypnotically and gradually grabs your full attention before you decide to listen to it over and over again. 

The band recently received accolades from the media and press in Finland after their album entitled 'Relief' (shown below) won the 'Best Alternative/Indie album' award at the Emma-Gaala music awards.

Magenta Skycode - Relief

'Magenta Skycode' are on tour in Finland during March and April 2011, playing at venues listed here. Here's a clip of the band live in Tampere from October 2010.

Thanks for reading my blog and please share it with all your friends.
You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.



Monday, January 31, 2011

Moomin and a groovin' on a sunny afternoon!

Most of you reading this blog may recognise the well-known character featured in the video above. His name is Moomintroll from the Moomin books and cartoons. The Moomins were created in the mid-1940's by Tove Jansson, a Finnish novelist and painter. Since then it has become a worldwide phenomenon.
Personally I never understood the attraction of the Moomins when I was young. Growing up as a child in Ireland, like many other Irish children I spent a lot of time reading comics, books and looking at the television. Back then in the 1970's Irish television consisted of two national channels and three British channels. Most of the cartoons shown were from the US or the UK. So we had a huge selection to choose from. I can remember cartoons such as Battle of the Planets, Scooby Doo, Hong Kong Phooey, Wacky Races and Spiderman from the US. And then we had the likes of Mr.Benn, Captain Pugwash and the Mr.Men from the UK. The Moomins cartoon may have been shown occasionally but I never noticed. Any cartoons about a small white hippo-like creature didn't stand a chance against the all-action american cartoons. Not on my television anyway! We also had a few european cartoons which I thought were a bit strange. They mainly came from old countries like Czechoslovakia and East Germany. I later found out that some of them may have contained some East German propaganda! 

While I ignored anything to do with the Moomins when I was young, I have educated myself a little on the characters and their creator since moving to Finland. I reckon that small white hippo-troll might be a good creation for kids after all. There's no shortage of colourful characters and imagination there, that's for sure!   

Last summer I discovered one place connected to Tove Janssons famous little characters. It was Moominworld of course, a small Moomin theme park based on an island at the town of Naantali or Nådendal in Swedish. While it costs to enter the Moomin park enclosure itself, anyone can simply walk over the bridge walkway and on to the island. There's a nice little Moomin cafe there to sit and enjoy a coffee and the sun. And after that it's only a short walk into the nice Naantali marina. Here there more cafes and restaurants, including a great little boardwalk along the marina where you can find some bars with cool outdoor seating areas. A nice place to enjoy a cold beer and hear the radio playing 'Groovin' on a sunny afternoon'.

Naantali Marina, Finland

Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to hang around all these nice places as I had to get back to the Naantali Spa Hotel were I was staying with my better half, courtesy of a nice little gift token given to us by some Finnish friends. Such was the irresistable pull of a hot jacuzzi and a few beers in the residents bar. We just couldn't help ourselves, you know??? :)

Next time I go back to Naantali, I will try to stay somewhere closer to the town centre. Here's a little video clip I made from the photos of my stay in Naantali.  

Share this blog!

Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.

- Alan 


Monday, January 17, 2011

2D or not 2D? that is the question!

Last summer I had a quick look at the work of Finnish artist Pauno Pohjolainen in the Turku Art Museum. The painter transformed from being a traditional artist at an early stage of his career to making more 3-dimensional work in the way of painted sculptures and textured forms such as chipped wooden surfaces. The artist still prefers to be called a painter though. 

Pauno Pohjolainen: 
Pyhä Yrjö surmaa lohikäärmeen, yksityiskohta, 

Born in Kuopio, Finland in 1949 Pauno Pohjolainen held his first solo exhibition in Kuopio Art Museum in 1981. His art is visually pleasing and consists of many natural textures and colours. Some of his work extends to interior and exterior building facades.

Pauno Pohjolainen, the Virgin Mary, 1996, Kuopio Art Museum Collection

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

August Art Round-up 2010!!

I just found out that 'The Finnish Cat' will be on public view at this year's Konstrundan Art event in Finland.

Konstrundan is a special annual event where artists open their studio doors to the public. This large group of artists, craftsmen and designers live mainly in the Swedish speaking areas in Finland (Svenskfinland).

For this event I intend to have my 'Finnish Cat'-'Finsk Katt'-'Suomalainen Kissa' on display along with several new paintings which I hope to have ready for this event later this summer.
It all happens on 30 July-1 August 2010.

And I now have my own profile on the Konstrundan site here.
A big thank you to the people at Konstrundan!!

There's a full list of all this year's participants here.

The list represents five areas, Västra Nyland/Helsinki, Turku area, Österbotnia, Åland and Östra Nyland (areas shown in yellow on map)

This event promises to be an excellent presentation of the wide variety of artists and craftspeople in Svenskfinland and I'm very proud to be taking part!

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The Art Garage, Finland

The Art Garage, Finland
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