Northern Finland: Helena Junttila

07.08.2023 hrs 07:08
Visual artist Helena Junttila from Aska in Sodankylä is celebrating round years this year. In honor of her 60th birthday, she had an exhibition open for a week in her studio. It was a much better way than a party for a few hours, because now she could talk to people in peace.

Helena first studied visual arts at Oriveden opisto and then at the Free Art School in Helsinki in the 1980s. The exhibition list is really long and also includes distant countries like the USA, Australia and Japan. Works in public collections are also found abroad. She holds positions of trust and is also the founder of many associations in the field of art. On Helena's website, you can see her art from 1987 in a timeline.


During the interview, just before the first of May, the exhibition “Navigating North” is in The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki. In May, it comes to Rovaniemi Art Museum Korundi, where it is open during Konstrundan. In the summer, in connection with the Sodankylä film festival, the cultural association Puhu jänikselle ry has an art exhibition and in 2024 Helena has a large solo exhibition in the Kemi Art Museum. It's happening around Helena!

Helena characteristically draws with ink by using old-fashioned writing nibs on aquarelle paper. She has used this way of working since she was young. She says that drawing is simple, it is immediate and instinctive. Helena also paints, these days mostly with acrylic on canvas or graphic paper in an aquarelle-like way. She also uses monotype technique which gives structure to the background of the paintings.

The size of the artworks varies from small to large, and Helena often works with artworks as a whole. The small works are spontaneous, fresh, a bit like stretching when you exercise, she says. Inspiration is born by doing. The subconscious brings a dream world from which the images come and there is a continuum. It's interesting how similar dreams people have.

Helena's art tells about humanity and people. In the open landscape there are often animals and mythical figures. They are from the same world as the dreams. — When we were little, we played with my sister that we were animals, as children you invent things and are creative, says Helena. The characteristic bear entered the pictures in the 80s when Helena's mother died.

Art has always been present in Helena's life, it is a natural part of everyday life, just like any work. Her grandfather, uncle and parents painted and the mother was also an art dealer.

Last year during Konstrundan, Helena was with performance artist Meri Nikula in Tornio, where they jointly held open doors in Meri's studio. The collaboration was very rewarding and it will also continue in Kemi's art museum next year. Helena thinks Konstrundan gives a lot of visibility and good marketing materials and channels. Helena and Meri's joint creative process began through Konstrundan, which is very gratifying in sparsely built-up areas.

Ami Avellán