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St. Olof’s church

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Saint Olof Church, wall paintings. Sastamala, Finland, 2006– 2008.

One of the general, long standing tasks of art is to transfer tradition and information. Likewise, it is important to keep the visual senses alive. The latter task includes e.g. analysing the idea of beauty at each point in time. In the last century, the 1900s, tradition and beauty were not highly valued in modern art.

The key criteria for new art were novelty and questioning current values. Hardly a single art prize has been awarded in our country during the past decades without thanking the artist for bravely breaking down barriers.

The desire of art to break down rather than construct became an end in itself, and an artist who spoke about the importance of tradition was easily marginalised. There was one barrier that could not be broken: the barrier of breaking barriers.

At the turn of the millennium, international modern art has revised this position, and the references to tradition, realistic paintings and the study of the concept of beauty have returned on the artists’ desks. In this respect, preparing the paintings for the church of Saint Olof comes at an interesting point in art history.

Effect of building on works

The main aspect is naturally that this is a working church, but also the interesting history, complete with the latest phases. A church originally built in the Catholic tradition came to Finland at a time when a lot of factors where changing. Agriculture was replacing hunting, Christianity challenged the nature religions, and the Protestant church rose against the Catholic. At the same time, the political regime of Sweden took over from the tribe leaders. Tyrvää was between the coast and inland, in many ways at the intersection of these phenomena. The church was also out of operation for a significant period of time. This time distanced it from the town centre, which seems a blessing when viewed from a 21st century point of view. It is also rare to have the church surroundings preserved in their natural state. The church and its surroundings are a resting place for the busy modern man, a step into living history. The church gives you one of the best settings to think about Paradise, the relationship of humans and nature and its development. The building has served two of the main churches of Christianity, which in turn gives us the opportunity to study the theme in terms of the ecumenical movement.

All in all, combining a historical building with modern art is a challenging and inspiring task. A clear consequence for me is the tendency to use outlines and silhouette type depiction in the works. The outline reminds of the images of medieval churches, while at the same time allowing us to go forward in time towards modern art. It also retains the desired realism.