"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 towns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label towns. Show all posts

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Out from the winter duvet!

Hogan's Blog is back from yet another winter pause. These pauses have become regular and probably occur because of the weather. Up here in Finland the dark winters can affect one's motivation to do anything, especially during long periods of cloud cover. And this winter we've had a lot of it, in fact it's been exceptional. In the southern area of Finland where I live only 50 hours of sun has managed to get through the clouds since the beginning of December. It's been quite depressing to say the least.  In fact, it reminds me of the endless summer days of rain I often experienced while growing up in Ireland. Yes, it's that depressing! ... (this is why there are so many good pubs in Ireland!) 

The lack of sunlight here this winter has been the lowest for the last 25 years. With the absence of leaves added to snow coverage everywhere and endless grey skies you might think you've been transformed into a dog. Everything looks so grey! 

Fortunately the weather seems to be getting better this week though, even if it is still freezing cold. The huge duvet-like cloud cover has been gradually falling away and the wonderful colour blue has entered our lives once again. Occasionally the snow gains a light yellowish glow which brings to mind the return of some much appreciated sun. I haven't seen the actual sun yet, only it's light hitting against some buildings and treetops. But it's on it's way slowly along with blue skies and scenes just like the ones in the video below. Yes, believe it or not it does get this nice in Finland!

On another good note, I went to visit the annual Snow day-out on Sunday February 17thin the nearby town of Ekenäs/Tammisaari (it's a bi-lingual town, hence the two names in Swedish and Finnish). The main attraction at this event are the snow sculptures. While held on a frozen beach with dull weather and cold temperatures, the spirit of the locals is upbeat and a fun atmosphere is always present. Despite the longer timespan of darkness this year was no exception. Smiles, laughter and chatting could be found everywhere. I managed to take a few photos of the day with my camera, and later needed to fix the contrast on them because of the weather. Here's are my photos with a video I made comprising of images from both the 2012 and 2013 events below.

You may have noticed from the video above the difference in the weather between 2012 and 2013. It can make a difference to have a big blue sky instead of the monotones from the snow and clouds. Luckily the people at this event bring enough colour and cheer of their own every year to make it a success no matter what and a fun day out for all the family. If you liked this you can read all about what happened in 2010 on one of my previous blogposts called 'There's no art like snow art!'

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!!!

'Oddbod' from the film 'Carry on Screaming!'
(or an advertisement for hair loss reversal!)

Happy Halloween as the greeting suggests is all about dressing up and having a bit of fun. Personally I think I'm probably a bit old in the tooth to be wearing Halloween costumes, but if any Halloween party invitations suddenly arrive in the postbox I'll be the first to go running for a mask. Growing up as a child in Ireland the tradition of Halloween always meant putting on a scary mask and knocking on house doors around where I lived. It also gave us a chance to see who was living near us. My mother told my friends and I not to call at strangers' houses. Yep, that was like asking my sisters not to go shopping for shoes! Costumes weren't much, a simple old white sheet my mum was throwing out or a black bin-liner bag were the usual choices. Then there was the plastic mask, which always had a cheap elastic band attached with two staples. It was always good to have a spare stapler at home as it usually broke after an hour or so. The only other items needed were a few explosive sticks or bangers as we called them and a plastic bag for the goodies. The goodies given by house owners varied over the years and changed dramatically with time. During the first few years any type of fruit was the usual received with a few nuts thrown in also. Then some genius decided it was good to give kids sweets instead of fruit! ......I don't recall any kids complaining about this sudden change, but why should they as most of them had indestructable teeth!  While some folk were still handing out the traditional fruit and nuts, more and more were switching to sweets, or as americans called it 'candy'. And because of this many kids developed a sweet tooth and became more demanding and sometimes devilish towards their sponsors... Poetic justice perhaps, or just damn good fun!

Hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds were just some of the traditional treats handed to Irish kids during Halloween collections. ....Walnuts were without doubt my favourite! 

Halloween has grown in popularity with older kids and adults over the years in Ireland and it's an incredibly busy night for bars and nite clubs in the big towns and cities. The chance to put on a costume allows people to join in the celebration and have fun with others. It's not unusual to find Dracula 'kissing' a fair maiden spontaneously during the night, or to see Batman suddenly rescue a total stranger from being too drunk.

I suppose the increase of interest in all things Halloween has been highly influenced and exaggerated by media from the U.S.A., with the constant stream of horror movies from Hollywood over the years. Titles such Friday the 13th, Childs Play, Nightmare on Elm Street and Saw immediately come to mind. And it seems that the USA influence of Halloween has also reached Finland in recent years. With an appetite for hard rock and metal music aswell as all things dark and morbid I am still wondering why Halloween hasn't become a national holiday in Finland by now. 
While I haven't seen any evidence of 'Trick-or-Treating', there are a lot of shops around stocking all sorts of Halloween novelties for kids including costumes, masks and sweets. I think it's mainly for school and private house parties. I also know that some niteclubs have Halloween parties.

One thing I always like to do every Halloween is watch an old horror movie. I have a small selection of horror dvds at home including my favorite, the original version of The Amityville Horror starring James Brolin. Nowadays however you only have to visit YouTube for most of the classics. There's a lot to be found elsewhere online also. 

Here's one you won't find on YouTube. I recently found this old favorite of mine called 'Carry on Screaming!' which is of course a horror-based comedy from way back in 1966. I still love the old British humour in this classic from the 'Carry on' series of films. It's available to watch or download with excellent quality here. (the installation of a DIVX player may be required for some viewers)

Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends. 
.... and a very Happy Halloween!!!!

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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.  

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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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The Art Garage, Finland

The Art Garage, Finland
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