In the first part of my RaumArs residency I had an opportunity to create a series of six works for the 580th anniversary of the city of Rauma. Each piece is centered on a social process which continues to shape Rauma. From the research I chose Mariner culture, Religion, Craft, Trades, Education and Arts.
Spending the first month of the residency at the local library I read what English books were available about the history of the town (For the material in Suomi I used Google translate). The research produced seventy one points, each highlighting an event or a period that I felt tracked the evolution of the town of Rauma. The list starts as far back as the Bronze Age but focuses primarily on the last 580 years.
I typed out my research over a stenciled layout of images related to each theme using a typewriter kindly loaned to me by Henna Paunu through the RaumArs network.
The text serves two functions. First, it is the medium that establishes the images for each of the 6 original artworks. Second, it serves to establish the artwork as a dataset that contains both textual/literal information about Rauma’s history as well as well as symbolic information represented by the negative shapes offset by the text. The negative shapes, symbolic of the theme, are designed and laid out in such a way as to pay homage to the bobbin lace tradition which makes up a large portion of the towns identity.
With the originals finished, for the Lastenkulttuuriviikko workshops, we printed an edition of 42 for each of the designs. Big thanks to the Rauman Painopiste Oy (print shop) for giving us a great price for these high quality prints.
The workshops introduced kids, ages 4-12, to the idea of Rauma’s history as something that they have a part in creating and interpreting. We also asked the kids to think about the present moment of the town and the kind of future they would like to see. Each of the participants received an individual print and a dye I made from local flora. They were then asked to paint/colour however they saw fit. The dyes added yet another layer of information to the artwork as a dataset in the form of a physical record representing the current makeup to the town’s flora.
Conceptually, the children were interpreting the history in their own way by making marks using natural dyes made from local plants. Practically they were made part of a collaborative project which in a small part establishes a cultural exchange of ideas about what the future might be like through art and conversation. They were also introduced to an optical mixing technique; they were presented with an expended view of how and from what art can be made with; and they were made aware that they can easily make their own custom dyes from things found in each of their environments.
Over the course of 2 weeks and 12 workshops we had 160 participants. The project would not be possible without the help and organizational skills of Sanni Tuuppa and Hannele Kolsio.
With the workshops finished, Sanni Tuuppa, Cultural producer for the City of Rauma, organized an exhibition of all the works at the local Library. 160 prints were displayed in a prominent position, a large window facing the canal. With the exhibition finished each of the participating children received the print they worked on. Each print was individually autographed and numbered by me.