Midsummer's Eve

The height of the Finnish summer is the holiday of Midsummer - appropriate that a country that spends half the year in darkness would want to celebrate the longest day of the year. Last night we partook in the annual festivities on Seurasaari Island, despite the pouring rain (that apparently is also basically tradition at this point).

We wandered amongst the crowd, eyeing vendors that had set up their shops - blacksmiths, woodworkers - and tons of kids who played tug-of-war, walked on stilts, and watched a puppet show in an open field. The main events surround a newlywed couple, chosen annually to be married that day on the island, who perform the Midsummer bridal waltz, and light the main bonfire on the shore later that night. Despite not understanding a word that was spoken or sung, the celebration was special. Hope for a new year filled with love and happiness, togetherness of family. It definitely made me miss my family thousands of miles away.


Trying to capture part of the crowd along the shore - waiting for the main bonfire to be lit.

Winding down around 11.


Temppeliaukio Kirkko

I have quickly come to cherish my weekends here in Helsinki. A time to unwind from the week, sleep in, and explore new areas of the city. Trying to keep my last semester's resolution of Saturday = Funday (which is important as I am in Funland, or so my brother calls it), every Saturday I make an effort to see something new.

Yesterday's cold and rain kept me inside most of the day, but late in the afternoon, Kelley, Amanda and I went to Temppeliaukio Kirkko (The Rock Church), which is a short few blocks from our hostel. When we arrived we found out there was a wedding in progress, and the church would only be open for a few minutes in between events. A hoard of visitors pushed their way in as soon as was allowable, and I quickly followed suite - pushing my way in to glimpse the highly anticipated space. Although our time inside was brief, I was captivated by the various textures inside the church: rock, copper, wood, and glass, underlined by the various forms of light within the space, not wanting to leave as we were virtually kicked out no more than 10 minutes later for the day's next event.

Looking up toward the copper ceiling.

Candlelight flickering along the rock wall.


We Whatever (Smile?) in the Face of Adversity

The group of us left campus today around 6 to get our much anticipated bikes. The ride from Domus (our summer hostel) to school is about six miles, so we all decided to get bikes to take a scenic route along the water - most of us, I think, were envisioning a sort of Von Trapp family scenario, minus the matching drapery uniform (because we sure do sing). Used bikes had been reserved for us, so after much testing and debate, we left the shop in a herd, eager to map out our bike route home.

After triumphantly haggling down my bike's price, about ten minutes from the (now closed) shop, my back tire literally exploded. As bikes are not allowed on buses, Kristin offered to walk with me home. So, we naively trotted along, no biggie.

I should have guessed it was a long walk when we stopped at a dog park to ask a gentlemen directions, and he commented, "Why do you want to go to Helsinki?!" My response, "because we live there," followed by him bewildered and telling us it was 10 kilometers away. Well, turns out, we were more like 10 miles away, and spent the next 3+ hours walking home. Thank goodness the weather was really nice today, there were a lot of interesting buildings to look at, and Kristin decided to keep me company. All in the name of not abandoning my great deal.

Definitely looking forward to the weekend...

Blissfully ignorant about an hour into our walk.


The Poetry of Space

After traveling through "the woods" since May 26th, we finally returned to Helsinki last week and were gifted our first free weekend to settle in and do some much needed laundry. Saturday afternoon, several of the graduate students walked to the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by Steven Holl. After spending last semester reading a lot of Steven Holl's ideas on Phenomenology, I was anxious to experience a work of his. The experience greatly surpassed my expectations. While I have never thought myself to be a great writer, even the best, I think, would lack sufficient words to describe the poetry of space in Kiasma. Light, shadow, texture, color, materiality, undulating forms and movement - a place I will no doubt return to many times while in Helsinki.

Skateboarder paradise near the cafe entrance.

Entry Hall from second floor.

A stunning exhibit by Denise Grunstein.

Textured concrete made by wood forms - a nod to Finnish culture.

Rear auditorium wall wrapped in cerulean velvet panels, asking to be touched.