Sunday, 15 January 2012

Jyväskylä art - dolls and bathrooms

Snowflakes land heavily on my face, woolly hat and jacket when I walk across the campus of University of Jyväskylä. Oh no, the poor lilac bushes have mistaken the (so far) warmish winter to be the spring and some buds are already appearing amidst the snow. Sorry, guys. You are far too early. Hope you don't catch a cold.
On Fridays there is free entrance to some museums of Jyväskylä so I head for Museum of Central Finland at Alvar Aallon katu 7. I wonder if there is any art on display in the bathroom? In the ladies, there certainly is. If you are planning to make art here, take your own papers. In case of emergency use papers provided by house. And the same in Finnish.
There is a piece of photography on the wall, toying with artistic displays of rolls of toilet paper. Just don't try this in the cubicle...

At the ground floor there is an exhibition that celebrates the city of Jyväskylä's 175th birthday this year. The exhibition features displays in the centerpieces of which are handmade dolls in period costumes from several decades since Jyväskylä was founded in 1837. The dolls were made by members of Doll Artists of Finland Society.
The texts are available only in Finnish, but there are wonderful details in the doll displays. For example the gentlemen who are about to order their dinner are reading a miniature menu written in Swedish and Finnish. The carefully tailored costumes are also great to look at.
There are scenes from important times in the city's history, including Jan 1, 2009, when Jyväskylä last grew by joining forces with two of its neighbouring communities, Jyväskylän maalaiskunta (red-gold coat of arms) and Korpilahti. The current mayor of Jyväskylä, Markku Andersson, is featured on the right.
The museum hosts large permanent exhibitions about the history of Jyväskylä city and the whole province of Central Finland, but this time I skip those. However, I take a peek to the second floor and around the corner there is a surprise: a loom ready for action. It is as if someone was actually weaving a traditional rug here, and using old clothes cut for the job. No idea if this part of the museum display or rug-weaving for real?

From the museum I walk to the campus of University of Jyväskylä, about half a kilometre uphill towards the city centre. First stop: university library where it is now possible to cast your vote in the Finnish presidential election of 2012, as it is advance voting time.

There is now quite a bit of renovation work going on at the university campus, with fences round some buildings, and it means that some routes are off limits... OK, I'll make a shortcut through the snow to the top of Seminaarinmäki hill there are some buildings from the times of the old Seminary, the predecessor of University of Jyväskylä, from the late 19th century.
Next to the Seminarium (S) building there is a small house made of large blocks of grey granite. The building is called Paja (workshop); after all, it was used as a workshop by male students of the original Seminary. Today it serves as a quiet place for worship and meditation, without references to any religion. I enter and switch on the lights. The front is very altar-like though.
The felt wall art is so simple, yet lights up the place with the terracotta colour. According to the guest book the visitors have used this room for morning prayers, zen meditation and a couple even got engaged here!
Right next door, on the ground floor of the red-brick Seminarium building, there is also artwork. For example the bathroom for the disabled is decorated by an old photograph from the days of the first Finnish-speaking teacher seminary, covering the window. Students relaxing outside...
My last museum stop is at the other end of the corridor, at the university museum's beautiful exhibition space. Mr Salmi was the university's official photographer in 1967-1990 and naturally photographed the academic degree ceremonies over the years. The black and white photographs have captured the festive atmosphere beautifully.

On the southern window of the gallery space there is yet another photograph from the old Seminary days, with two female students smiling happily. You don't see students wearing aprons these days!
And now, back to continue the walk through the snow...

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