Sunday, 1 July 2012

Joensuu - riverside art

I walk to Joensuu market place to find a place for breakfast. Marttakahvio is a café run by the local Martha organization that is dedicated to home economics. Their speciality in the summer are Karelian pasties fresh from the oven - and they also teach children the art of baking them right there! I go for the breakfast option that includes porridge, tea or coffee, juice and some fresh strawberries. However, a Karelian pasty is not included but I simply have to get one of them as well. Delicous!
The otherwise dull, grey asphalt is brightened up by the human shapes painted there in all colours of the rainbow. They must be dancing although there is no music in the air. I head to the other side of the market place, behind the market hall for Carelicum to visit the North Karelia museum which is on the second floor. For some reason I happen to start the museum tour anti-clockwise - not a wise move - and it feels strange to go backwards in time. 
I step back to the more colourful reality in the less modern Taitokortteli, a restored yellow wooden villa full of arts and crafts at the corner of the market square. Someone is happily weaving a rug on the loom; this is a place where you can do things yourself as well, not just buy handcrafts.
Even birds deserve a bit more colour into their lives, if you take a look at what children have produced in a handcraft workshop. I wonder which one would be the favourite among the birds... 
The inner yard of Taitokortteli basks in sunshine. No wonder there are smiling faces among the customers of the café.
There is an artistic display of a girl statue reading a book, Happy garden, on an old bed by the lime tree. Maybe she would rather be in a proper garden instead of this paved yard.
I'm not in the mood for shops so I leave Taitokortteli by the side gate and continue straight across the street, towards Pielisjoki river that glitters close by. A river cruise, perhaps? In a riverside town like Joensuu (literally river mouth) you could also choose to abandon the footpath and go for the waterway.
There is a small group of people playing something in the park by the river. No, they are not playing petanque! This is mölkky, a Finnish game in which you throw a wooden throwing pin, trying to knock over one or more of the 12 wooden pins to reach exactly 50 points. This is a game that people of any age can play together. Luck can play a very important role especially if you are playing on uneven ground!
The footpath follows Pielisjoki river. The advantage of choosing to walk slowly instead of at a brisk pace is that there is more time to notice things. It would be pretty easy to miss the artwork on the lamp-post because the picture isn't that big. I wonder if there are more of these?
Naturally, there is more to come! Poor thing, this creature is so cold that his/her tongue has turned blue. It is not that cold in here, no way... On the lamp-post next door the simple black and white image speaks about infine love. This is a great way to decorate normal lamp-posts!
There is also more serious art that will probably stay there intact much longer. Välke (The Sparkle) by Teijo Karhu and Jukka Niskanen reminds me of a shuttle.
The hiking trail marks by the river footpath reveal that I'm actually on a real hiking trail, at the heart of Joensuu city. The distance to Koli is a good 96 km but Lykynlampi and Utranharju are not that far. Maybe some other time, I'm not exactly equipped for a hike to Koli today.
Two ladies are washing their rugs by the river in the traditional way on a pier, armed with a good brush, some detergent and a bucket. In many Finnish towns the old tradition is still kept alive but in a more environmentally friendly manner: these days you don't usually wash the rugs in a lake / river anymore, but there are large wash basins on the shore instead, provided by the town. In this way the detergent won't get into fresh water.
After walking down Pielisjoki I turn back towards the city centre, but still continue by the riverside. There must be more artwork on the lamp-posts - and I am rewarded! I wonder who made these? If there are signatures, they are well hidden.
A river cruise boat passes me by at the canal and I hardly notice it, and thus miss the bridge being opened for the boat. These lamp-post images have managed to capture my attention so well.

The last piece of rather recent looking riverside art (judging by the fact that the pictures still look pretty intact!) is a large painting under the bridge. This artwork was created by the local art club Taideyhdistys Harha ry in 2011. One of the artists was perhaps inspired by Alice in Wonderland, another by manga?


  1. You have very interesting posts! :) And I love Taitokortteli..

  2. Thanks Millie! I agree with you, Taitokortteli is simply great.