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A Bangkok hidden gem: Batcat Museum & Toys

Bangkok has a huge offer to discover for visitors of all tastes: amazing rooftops, wild dive bars, beautiful parks, cosy cafes, some of the most amazing temples in the world and interesting museums.

But it is true that like any other city in the world, once you live here for some years, even when there is almost always a new place to discover, you start to struggle with new locations that can put a “Waw” in your mouth.

Last Saturday I was doing a quick search online to find some hidden gems in the Thai capital that I would have not visited yet, and the Batcat Museum & Toys caught my eye.

Let’s be honest, if you are a person who enjoys taking a million selfies in the terrace of a cafe and have 0 interest in cinema, figures or Japanese manga, probably this place would not be for you. However, as my case it is really the opposite and I love retro video games, Japanese toys and figures, fantasy cinema, manga etc, I thought that I would give this place a shot, as I was a bit surprised that in more than 2 years living in Bangkok I had never heard of it.

The museum is not far from the central Sukhumvit area, but it is not in a main street, but in some alley street in Bang Kapi area, so I recommend as the easiest way just to go by taxi/Grab there, which should not cost you more than 150 bath approx. if you are in Asoke area or its surroundings.

Once I arrived, surprises already start to pop in front of your eyes. Graffitis with manga characters, a Batman car model casually parked in the building garage.. this is promising!

I entered the museum, which pretty much is a kind of 3 store residential building converted into museum, and I get greeted by the owner himself, wearing a cool Batman t-shirt, and his little daughter, wearing a twin Batman t-shirt :) Sweet!

The entrance to the museum costs 200b, and in full honesty, first I thought it was a bit overpriced. My expectation was that I would see the exhibition in just 10/15 minutes. How mistaken I was!

After paying the ticket, the owner led me to the upper floor of the museum and just explained me that I was free to roam around all the floors. I arrived at around 16:00 and the place closes at 17:00, so I went right at it. Funnily and a bit sadly, I was the only visitor at that time there. In that sense it gave me the privilege to chat a bit more here and there with the owner, who kindly explained me that he had dedicated 20 years of his life to gather that collection and that the Batman area was his favorite and most pampered, and the one he had put more effort into! He also kindly showed me some vintage figures of Batman when I asked him what were his favorite items, telling that they could cost around 2 million baht (more than 50 thousand euro).

So… what is there to see in the 3 stores of the museum, you might still be wondering… Well, pretty much fucking everything!!! The collection, comprising more than 60.000 pieces, is just breathtaking. I just hope that the photos that I add to the article make some kind of justice to the place, cause wherever you would look at, something amazing was displayed in front of your eyes: figures from Knights of the Zodiac, Star Wars, Kamen Rider, Marvel, Captain Tsubasa, Lego… the list goes on and on. Big and small, in all kind of shapes and colors, and everything displayed with taste, so even with the huge amount of items there, you could feel like it was easy to walk around every floor.

The Batman last floor, as the owner and director of the museum explained, was already a delight by itself. For a fan of retro-video games as myself, I casually spotted some jewels like the Batman Sunsoft for Megadrive or the Batman 2 for Famicom, among the other hundreds of incredible items.

I am a person who has traveled a bit and has had my share of displays of figures, toys and nerdie stuff. I have been in Japan, I have roamed the Mega Mall in Bangkok Chinatown… but still, this was like a dream I did not want to wake up from. Like getting a free VIP personal pass to Willy Wonka’s factory with all you can eat chocolate. I really could not refrained myself from exclaiming aloud in excitement and disbelief to the amazing stuff displayed there.

So… if you have some minimal interest in vintage toys, Japanese culture and manga, cinema… or if you have kids and they do like any of those things, just visit there! You will not regret my advice. I cannot believe that this place is not more popular and nobody talks about it in Bangkok social media groups. I was surprised, I was shocked and I was delighted that in some random Soi in Bangkok could be gathered such an incredible amount of gems. I have no idea how the owner was able to buy all that collection, which must cost a fortune all together, but I feel proud to have been able to experience a little fairytale during the hours I was roaming the place there, and surely I will bring friends there again.

As a final note, apart from the amazing display in the museum, at the end of the tour the building also has a small shop close to the cafe, where you can buy from a small but cosy selection of well priced figures and toys. I got myself a beautiful Batman Hot Wheels model as a small memorabilia token.

Batcat Museum & Toys FB Page:

Batcat Museum & Toys location:

Art Exhibitions

Bettina Cirone at Kalasatama Olohuone Gallery: Aperture on New York City, 1960-1980

Bettina Cirone: Aperture on New York City, 1960-1980 presents Bettina Cirone’s (b. 1933) photographs of her native New York during the 1960s-1980s. During her career in photography, Cirone worked as architecture, sports, fashion, and celebrity photographer. The exhibition features her photos of New York City in the 1960s-1980s, from Muhammad Ali to Salvador Dalì and Andy Warhol, from New York street scenes to hedonistic nightlife at Studio 54. 

The exhibition is organized in collaboration with Finnish American Studies Association and SAM-Helsinki.

Curator: Sirpa Salenius

Exhibition opening: 3 May 2024, 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Art Exhibitions

Moderna Museet Malmö opens Unhealed Exhibition on March 2

2.3 – 15.9 2024
Moderna Museet Malmö
Turbine Hall and Loading Dock

Artists: Asim Abdulaziz, Aya Albarghathy, Muhammad Ali, Héla Ammar, Marwa al-Sabouni, Selim Ben Sheikh, Shady Elnoshokaty, Safaa Erruas, Hadia Gana, Khaled Hafez, Diana Jabi, Rachid Koraichi, Moataz Nasr, Adrian Paci, Mario Rizzi, Fethi Sahraoui, and Mouna Jemal Siala

Curators: Abir Boukhari and Joa Ljungberg

The international group exhibition “Unhealed” delves into the aftermath of the uprisings and revolutions, that swept through the Arab world starting in 2010. These events altered the lives of millions of people, many of whom, as a consequence, now live in Sweden. With this exhibition, Moderna Museet Malmö proudly presents seventeen artist who, in different ways, have addressed this tumultuous and still unfolding chapter in history.

In my life, I have seen hope and despair entangled in relentless cycles, in Arab countries as well as in the rest of the world. Every sunrise brings a glimmer of hope – of a better life, a new beginning – only to vanish again when fate stubbornly repeats: “Not this time”, says Abir Boukhari, co-curator of “Unhealed”.

The exhibition “Unhealed” portrays existential experiences amid major social upheaval. It navigates through feelings of hope and despair, bringing us beyond political analysis. Through sculpture, painting, drawing, film and photography, it embodies a poetic narrative rather than a strict historical account. The contributing artists are predominantly based in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen, but also in Albania, Italy, Romania, and Sweden.

When I first asked Abir to collaborate on this project, she was hesitant; the subject was still too much of an open wound. Now, several years later, we are about to realise this exhibition. It feels both powerful and important, particularly when considering all those directly affected who now live in Sweden, says Joa Ljungberg, co-curator of “Unhealed”.

Programme and events during the exhibition period:

March 2: Walk-and-talk: special guided tour with the artists Muhammad Ali, Héla Ammar, Selim Ben Cheikh, Shady Elnoshokaty, Safaa Erruas, and Khaled Hafez. Led by the curators Abir Boukhari and Joa Ljungberg.
March 2: No to Division: Workshop on social cohesion with the artist Mouna Jemal Siala.
May 4: The war on cultural heritage: lecture by the author Anders Rydell.
May 18: Artist meetings – Additional artists working in the region and addressing the exhibition’s themes present their works.
May 23: The possibilities of architecture to create and counteract conflicts: lecture by the Homs based architect Marwa Al-Sabouni (digitally).

For updates, visit the website:

During the exhibition period, the workshop at the museum will be activated under the guidance of the artist Rami Khouri. Visitors to the exhibition are welcome to sit down and work with clay and text on their own, as well as during specific workshop sessions.

Moderna Museet Malmö, part of the state-owned Moderna Museet, is funded by the City of Malmö, Skåne Regional Council and the Swedish Government.

Art Exhibitions Outside Finland Travel

Vilnius Lights Up For Sixth Time — City Marks Entrance to Its New Century 

The highly anticipated sixth Vilnius Light Festival has begun, and has already transformed Vilnius’s streets into illuminated art. Artists from the Netherlands, Poland, France, Lithuania, and the UK began showcasing their installations yesterday, bringing thousands of people eager to see newly interpreted urban areas within the city. 

January 26, 2024. The tradition to brighten up the post-holiday slump in January is going strong in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The sixth annual Vilnius Light Festival returned to the streets, courtyards, and alleys of the Old Town on January 25. It is expected that around 200K visitors will visit the festival, as every year.

Vilnius is celebrating its 701st anniversary on the 25th of January with the Vilnius Light Festival while entering a new century after the jubilee year, a grand celebration that brought together more than 150 partners and hosted hundreds of festive events. During this time, the capital of Lithuania was celebrated as one of the 100 best cities to live worldwide by Euromonitor, while the country is among the top 20 happiest nations according to the World Happiness report. Additionally, Vilnius was awarded as the 2025 European Green Capital.

In 2024, the Vilnius Light Festival program consists of two parts: the main one with curator-selected installations and the second with initiatives by culture, arts, science, education, and business organizations, concluding to 20 light art installations.

This weekend, the Old Town draws visitors with unique venues like the Arts Printing House. Housed in a 16th-century printing house, this contemporary arts center showcases two light installations. One, called Flux by Polish artist Ksawery Komputery, explores virtual communication through 4,800 meters of LED strings and 144,000 pixels, unveiling hidden algorithms of virtual meetings. Another installation is Continuum presented in the yard of Lithuania’s presidential palace, by the UK artist duo Illumaphonium. The piece transforms the urban landscape with geometric mirrors, mesmerizing light, and sound monoliths while asking how we identify the city’s space where we live. Additionally, the capital invites visitors to dive into the alternate space-themed Vilnius through a mockumentary by artist Rimas Sakalauskas, offering a speculative vision of the city’s creation, history, and life beyond Earth. 

The Vilnius Light Festival is open January 25–28 from 6 PM to 11 PM. It is important to check the description of each installation for the exact visiting times. Visitors can find all the festival routes in the map provided by the organizers and easily plan their commuting in the city area. Additionally, the festival’s app with routes and installation information is available on Google Play and App Store.

Art Exhibitions

Juxtapositions –Kimmo Kaivanto & Akseli Gallen-Kallela

Gallen-Kallela Museum 10 February – 26 May 2024 Tarvaspää, Espoo

The Juxtapositions exhibition engages in a dialogue on the similarities and differences of Gallen-Kallela’s and Kaivanto’s art. The focus is not necessarily on the artists’ best-known works, but also on their diversions, sidesteps and sketches. The exhibition is based mainly on the collections of the Gallen-Kallela Museum and Kimmo Kaivanto Foundation, and Kimmo Sarje (PhD) is the curator of the exhibition.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865–1931) and Kimmo Kaivanto (1932–2012) were among the most important Finnish artists of their generation. Their talent as drawers, narrative approach and versatility of expression unite the masters. As painters, both artists blazed a trail with their renditions of Finnish landscapes. Gallen-Kallela and Kaivanto were keen builders and designers. Both also took a political stance: Gallen-Kallela as a national romantic and adjutant to General C. G. Mannerheim and Kaivanto with his pacifist and ecological artworks.

The exhibition begins in the studio of Tarvaspää’s artist residence with an array of artworks connected to or inspired by the artists’ almost mythical workspaces. The place is an exhibit in itself, complemented by a series of sketches of the house and a painting depicting the construction of the building. The wilderness studio of Kalela is presented in moonlight and Kaivanto’s Arkkusaari is shown lit by a flash of lightning. Also included are artworks of the interior of the Arkkusaari studio and the south end of the building. The artist’s Images on Arkkusaari 24.–29.6.1974 (Aleatoric Landscape) aims to capture the spirit of Arkkusaari.

Hugo Simberg’s graphic prints of Gallen-Kallela tell a story of friendship. Kaivanto’s painting Simberg’s Scale (2000) is a tribute to a respected colleague. Decadence and decay are touched upon in the so-called “etching room” leading from the studio to the rotunda, where Kaivanto’s Pub Genius (2002) and Gallen-Kallela’s Martyr in the Cause of Art (1893) exchange views.

The war-themed drawings from Kaivanto’s childhood showcased in a display case in the space leading to the rotunda provide an introduction to the themes exhibited there. In them, war and warriors and the act of questioning them take stock, whilst the love of a mother and a spouse weighs up the cost of heroism. Is it their instinct that beckons or the longing for freedom?

The verses of the workers’ poet Kössi Kaatra in the wake of the General Strike in Tampere Central Square in 1905 parallel with Väinämöinen and his troops defending the Sampo; Joukahainen harbouring thoughts of revenge; Kullervo close to death heading on a crusade, and the criticism of the military junta that tormented Greece in the late 1960s. Gallen-Kallela’s Mannerheim’s Lackey (1919), a portrait of the general’s military servant, and Kaivanto’s Grandson serigraph (1969), which explores men’s eroticism, raise questions and the latter in particular evokes associations with Tom of Finland’s male images.

Since the 1960s, Kaivanto’s art has offered a reminder of the fragility of nature and life under the stranglehold of our technological civilisation and greedy economic thinking. The difference with Gallen-Kallela, who praised wilderness, is evident. The parallels drawn between his Lake Keitele painting (1905) and Kaivanto’s When the Sea Dies (1970) serigraph illustrate the paradigm shift.

In Gallen-Kallela’s paintings, nature in one’s home country appears both as a value in itself and as a factor of national identity. Ultramarine, the blue of Kaivanto, where beauty and freedom merge, dominates comprehensively his collage So Willingly, So Willingly (1969) and links it to the mountainside in Gallen-Kallela’s Hwandoni Hills (1910). Kaivanto’s painting Spring Light (1964) appears as an expressive and Informalist development of Gallen-Kallela’s painting Lynx’s Den (1906). Both works of art are declarations of love tinged with longing for Finnish winter landscapes which are enlivened by the promise of spring.

Towards the end of the exhibition, Gallen-Kallela’s African souvenirs – the trophies exhibited in a display case – are juxtaposed with Kaivanto’s Balance collage (1968), which reflects on the state of the world. In the artwork, an awl nocked in a bow is aimed at an eggshell on the surface of which the artist has drawn a few of the meridians. The differences between Gallen-Kallela’s and Kaivanto’s concepts of nature become crystallised. Humans with their strengths and weaknesses as the masters of nature turn into humans as an inseparable part of the unity of nature.

Art Exhibitions

International Summer Exhibition of the European Artists’ Colonies on the theme WATER from 21 July to 15 October 2023

Erwin Bowien (1899–1972): The Sand Dunes in Egmond aan Zee, Netherlands, 1937


euroart*, the “European Federation of Artist Colonies” presents a digital summer exhibition of European artist colonies. This summer, the theme of the exhibition is WATER. Many museums or cities and municipalities also exhibit the paintings presented in the digital exhibition. Visit some European artist villages this summer or view the exhibition virtually.

For the second time, euroart, the European Federation of Artist Colonies, is organising a digital summer exhibition. This can be visited in the museums and visitor centres of the participating Artist Colonies. This summer, the theme of the pictures is “WATER”. The participating Artists’ Colonies are from Belgium: Champion, Tervuren and Sint Martens Latem; from Denmark: Faaborg; from France Barbizon; from Germany: Heikendorf, Kronberg, Schwaan, Grötzingen, Prien am Chiemsee, “Schwarzes Haus” Solingen, Darmstadt and Bremen; from the Netherlands: Domburg, Katwijk, Laren, Nunspeet, and Volendam; and from Italy Taranto.

In this exhibition, the Solingen Artists’ Colony “Black House” presents one work each by the painter, Nazi opponent and exile Erwin Bowien (1899-1972) and by the internationally active landscape painter Bettina Heinen-Ayech (1937-2020). Erwin Bowien’s painting “The Sand Dunes in Egmond aan Zee, Netherlands, 1937” will be on display, and Bettina Heinen-Ayech’s “Flower Arrangement over Lake Maggiore in Ticino, Switzerland, 1955” has been selected.Look forward to the digital summer exhibition of European artists’ colonies on the theme of “WATER” and visit the various Artists’ Colonies. More at:

*euroart – the European Federation of Artists’ Colonies – was launched in 1994. It was founded in Brussels under the auspices of the European Parliament and the European Commission. Euroart currently consists of about 70 member organisations, associated organisations and personal members in 13 European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Russia. The members organise exhibitions together, exchange views, knowledge and artists. And at the annual meetings, they not only inform each other about developments in their respective colonies, they work together for greater cultural understanding and cooperation in a European context.

Art Exhibitions

CHART Announces Exhibitors and 3 Year Collaboration with Tivoli Gardens for 2023

CHART, the leading Nordic event for contemporary art, announces its exhibitor list and a three-year collaboration with Tivoli Gardens which will bring contemporary art to the iconic amusement park for a whole month. The art fair and the public programme, will yet again take place at the historic Charlottenborg in central Copenhagen, August 24 – 27, and CHART in Tivoli will be open August 24 – September 24, 2023. 

CHART has expanded the concept of the art fair into an event that incorporates architecture, design and book publishing, public programmes that reach a wide audience, and an around the year presence through its digital platform, CHART Journal. The tradition of a generous public programme continues with performances and music acts in the courtyards of Charlottenborg, free and open for everyone, that turns CHART into a celebration of the arts in the heart of Copenhagen. In addition, the CHART Book Fair, Talks, CHART in Tivoli and CHART Architecture, add to the rich programme. CHART, as a non-profit organisation, emphasises Nordic values that both shape and go beyond aesthetics; social awareness, democratic principles, forward thinking and collaborative practices. 

The 2023 edition is the first under new director Julie Quottrup Silbermann, who has put a special focus on sustainable and socially conscious ways of collecting today and on introducing new entry points for collecting and supporting the art scenes. 

Throughout time, collectors have played an important role in supporting artists and thus the entire artworld ecosystem. Subjective decision-making and experience of course often play a role in collecting, but I want to open up the discussion around the commercial art world, as a whole, to add insight and transparency about who is collecting, how they are doing it and why. (Julie Quottrup Silbermann, Director, CHART) 

The Art Fair 

The 37 exhibitors, consisting of both Nordic and international galleries, participating in the art fair at Charlottenborg, all share an active engagement with the Nordic art scene. Alongside established artists, the galleries will also present a new generation of artists that are achieving recognition both in the Nordics and internationally. 

A new wave of female led galleries from across the Nordics are represented by galleries such as palace enterprise (DK), Saskia Neuman Gallery (SE), VAN ETTEN (NO), Sharp Projects (DK), Þula (IS), ISCA Gallery (NO) and Cora Hillebrand Galleri (SE), most are newly established or new additions among CHART participators.

CHART 2023 exhibitors 

Andersen’s (DK); Galerie Anhava (FI); BERG Contemporary (IS); Galleri Bo Bjerggaard (DK); BORCH Editions (DK); Carl Kostyál (UK/SE/IT); C.C.C. (DK); Cecilia Hillström Gallery (SE); Croy Nielsen (AT); Dorothée Nilsson Gallery (DE); Etage Projects (DK); Galerie Forsblom (FI); Galleria Heino (FI); Galleri Cora Hillebrand (SE); Gether Contemporary (DK); GSA Gallery (SE); Helsinki Contemporary (FI); i8 Gallery (IS); Isca Gallery (NO); Kunsthal Oslo with KCAC (NO/SD); Lagune Ouest (DK); LOYAL (SE); Galleri Magnus Karlsson (SE); Martin Asbæk Gallery (DK); MELK (NO); NEVVEN (SE); palace enterprise (DK); Peder Lund (NO); Persons Projects (DE); Saskia Neuman Gallery (SE); Sharp Projects (DK); SPECTA (DK); Gallery Steinsland Berliner (SE); Galleri Susanne Ottesen (DK); VAN ETTEN (NO); V1 Gallery (DK); Þula (IS). 

CHART in Tivoli: A 3 Year Collaboration Announced 

CHART is thrilled to announce a 3-year partnership with Tivoli Gardens following last year’s successful collaboration. Every August and September for the next 3 years, Tivoli’s visitors will have the opportunity to experience a cultural environment unlike any other in central Copenhagen, as site-specific sculptures, installations and video works are installed alongside the park’s world-famous rides and attractions. The month-long exhibition will be open for all visitors to the iconic amusement park in Copenhagen. 

CHART in Tivoli presents a fresh perspective on traditional exhibition formats. By placing artworks in the context of the historic amusement park Tivoli Gardens, the project offers a new opportunity to broaden the audience for contemporary art. Founded in 1843, Tivoli draws millions of visitors every year and is a well-known venue for performative arts, from ballet and theatre to pop and classical music, and continues to be one of Denmark’s most symbolic cultural locations. Through the exhibitions, CHART is proud to inspire new collaborations across Copenhagen’s cultural scenes and to expand the format for what an art fair can be. 

CHART in Tivoli speaks to the core of our mission to bring the best of contemporary art in the Nordics out into the public space. With this new three year collaboration, we are excited to re-shape and re-define the space for contemporary art in our society today, making it more accessible and more inclusive for everyone. (Julie Quottrup Silbermann, Director, CHART)

CHART in Tivoli, will include artists with well-established international profiles, those with established reputations in the Nordic region as well as emerging artists gaining traction at the local, regional and international level. Among the confirmed artists are Sylvie Fleury (CH), FOS (DK), Inka & Niclas (FI/SE), Jonathan Meese (DE), Oliver Sundqvist (SE/DK). More information will be released in June 2023. 

Art Exhibitions

The King of Pop lives… in Espoo

Beloved by many, hated by some and a controversial figure after his death, nobody can doubt anyway of the impact of Michael Jackson not only as one of the most important figures in the history of music, but in the general popular culture.

EMMA, the Espoo Museum of Modern Arts, holds this unique exhibition dedicated to the King of Pop with around 100 pieces of art from 48 artists in a collection formed by donations from private and public collections around the world that has been previously displayed in some of the most important cultural capitals of the world such as London or Paris.

Do not waste this chance to visit EMMA to see some unique art, with the highlight of the portrays of Jackson done by Andy Warhol, together with some interesting visual installation and documentaries dedicated to his figure. The ticket to the exhibition includes the access to the rest of EMMA museum, as well as entrance to the other museums located in the WeeGee building. A good suggestion to spend time during these gray days and get immersed in contemporary art alone, with friends or in the company of the whole family.

For more information visit:

Art Exhibitions Inside Finland Travel

Things to do in Helsinki: A visit to Seurasaari island

Photos by: Antonio Diaz

While the good summer weather lasts, it can be tricky when you are visiting Helsinki for a few days or when you are hosting foreign guests to think about interesting places to see not far from the city centre.

The island of Seurasaari is a little jewel to walk around when the weather is nice. Very conveniently located just 20-30 minutes from central Kamppi area, you can easily reach it by bus (line 24 goes there), by using one of the easily accesible city bikes or even by ferry from the Market Square during summer. A perfect destination to spend half a day when weather allows to enjoy outside.

A charming Open-Air Museum

If you want to travel back on time and imagine how was the rural landscape in different areas of Finland, the Open-Air Museum is certainly the highlight of the visit to the island. It has a great array of buildings from different eras, manors, farms, smoke houses, etc scattered around the beautiful landscape that the closeness to the sea gives to the sorroundings. There are many cafeterias where to stop by while taking stroll to have a coffee or a snack, activities for children like going for a ride on a pony and also local sellers have handcrafts on display for purchase.

TIP: The entrance of the museum is 10e per adult, but honestly, unless you are deeply interested in visiting the houses and see the utensils inside, you could skip that and just walk around the buildings on the island for free. So if you are on a low budget, you can skip buying a ticket to allow entrance inside the museum buildings.

Sunbathing and swimming

Seurasaari is also famous as a place for sunbathing and swimming. Just when you cross the bridge, walking to the right, there is a small beach where local citizens like to enjoy the sun and have a picnic. For the lovers of enjoying nature wearing nothing, there are also 2 nudists beach, separated from men and women. Entrance there requires a fee.

Among other amenities, the island also counts with barbecuing area, and it is specially popular to visit there during the Midsummer celebrations, where big bonfires are torched.

For more information:

Art Exhibitions

EMMA brings art by Hans Rosenström under the Tapiola sky as part of the Helsinki Festival

Hans Rosenström + Stormglas: Off Seasons
17 August–3 September 2017, The WeeGee Exhibition Centre forecourt, Tapiola, Espoo

EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art takes part in the Helsinki Festival by presenting its’ new collection acquisition Off Seasons. The work is on display on the museum forecourt in the sculpture park in front of the WeeGee Exhibition Centre, where it forms a dialogue with the sounds and elements of its environment and is free for all to see.

Off Season consists of music, structures and plants, forming one unified artwork. The result is an intense, multisensory and immersive experience where viewers can spend time and enjoy the environment. Off Seasons is a sound installation based on the collaboration between the visual artist Hans Rosenström and the Danish artist duo Stormglas (Andreas Borregaard and Mikkel Sørensen.

The work gives the audience an opportunity to listen to the interpretation of the theme of four seasons by four contemporary Nordic composers. The music is composed by Rasmus Zwicki, Fredrik Österling, Sunleif Rasmussen and Martin Rane Bauck. The composers, selected by Stormglas, chose their preferred season, which formed the basis for their composition. Stormglas’ only rule was that the music had to be composed for a quintet. Hans Rosenström edited a soundtrack from the compositions for the work Off Seasons.

“The four seasons are such a familiar theme in classical music, with Vivaldi’s composition of course being the best-known of treatments of it. I combined the seasons into one work, with the intention perhaps to comment on how these days we try to live oblivious to seasons, as if they made no difference,” says Hans Rosenström.

The music was composed for five different instruments, namely electric guitar, accordion, violin, piano and double bass. These, in addition to the sound of breathing, can all be heard through the various speakers. The soundtrack lasts about 30 minutes, and plays on a loop. The work was originally created on commission by the Chart Art Fair in Denmark, and was shown as part of the art fair’s programme in autumn 2016. There it was presented in the courtyard of Copenhagen’s Kunsthal Charlottenborg.

Sound has a special role in Hans Rosenström’s art. He has created sound installations for public spaces and exhibitions throughout the world. The permanent public work of art in the ferry terminal in Stockholm’s Gärdet offers a glimpse into the future. His work that recently featured at the recent ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum Triennial was based on the image of ruins in one of Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings. In Off Seasons, Rosenström returns to the same themes: the mutually opposing concepts of building and ruin, and their presence in our lives and environment.

Off Seasons has recently been acquired for EMMA’s collection and can be set up both indoors and outdoors, changing the location and adjusting the work accordingly. EMMA aims to renew the use of museum collections with modifiable, temporary works and renewable conceptual works in order to regenerate public art, and in this way to take art beyond the confines of museum walls.

Art Articles Exhibitions Misc

Two new temporary exhibitions in Pärnu Muuseum (Estonia)

Two new temporary exhibitions in Pärnu Muuseum (Estonia):

„Resort Fashion”

From April 29th to August 31st

The resort fashion started to develop in bathing places of late 18th century France and England. A necessity for light and athletic clothing emerged from the development of resorts and the changing traditions and lifestyles. The first resort collections or cruise collections were developed by Jean Patou, Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli during the 1920s.

Resort fashion in Baltic states developed in the context of common European trends until the end of WWII. The ideology of communism and Soviet-type economic planning influenced and controlled all aspects of life, including fashion. Clothing is an eloquent historical evidence – it tells not only about the personality of the wearer, but also about the times – ideas, events, prejudices and achievements, about ideals which the society establishes in a certain point in time, and the dreams, hopes, expectations, and people’s views on beauty.

The exposition „Resort Fashion” acquaints with the fashion of clothing and accessories in resorts from the end of the 19th century until the 1990s. The stocks of Jurmala- and Pärnu Museums and private clothing collection of Ainars Radovics has been used in the exposition.

„People, Streets, Houses”

From April 29th to June 26th

The exhibition is made possible with the cooperation of Jurmala Society of History , Jurmala City museum ( Latvia), Sopot Museum (Poland), The Institue of the History of Architecture in St. Petersburg (Russia), Hanko Museum (Finland), Birstonas Museum (Lithuania) and Pärnu Museum (Estonia) . The exhibition is part of the project “The Northern Stars on the sea coast – the cultural heritage of the Baltic resorts”, and is financially supported by the Northern and Baltic States Mobility program “The Culture”. The exhibition intoduces the influence of resorts on architecture and everyday life in baltic cities.

Ticket price for temporary exhibitions:

– adult: 3€

– children: free

– pupils: 1€

– 2 adults + 2 children: 7€

– concession (ISIC card, pensionners, students) : 2

Pärnu Museum´s permanent exhibition is also open during summer time.

It provides an overview of 11,000 years of history in Pärnu County through exhibits and displays that introduce the life and conditions of the various eras. The main exhibit shows local developments from Neolithic times right up to the late 1980s, and includes a mini-cinema showing archival films. The institution’s pride and joy is the so-called ‘Stone Age Madonna’. At around 8,000 years old, it is the oldest known human-shaped sculpture in the Baltic Sea area. Other star attractions include a fragment of a 14th-century merchant ship and a glass floor that lets you look down onto archaeological remnants of one of the town’s historic gates.

Ticket price for permanent exhibition:

– adult: 4€

– children: free

– pupils: 2€

– 2 adults + 2 children: 10€

– concession (ISIC card, pensionners, students) : 3€

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-6:30pm

Pärnu Museum
Aida 3, Pärnu 80010, Estonia
Tel: +372 44 33 231, +372 44 30 585


Art Features Interviews Misc

Grace Vane Percy: The Art of Nudity

FREE! Magazine met recently in the lobby of a hotel in Helsinki centre with British photographer Grace Vane Percy, one of the most well known names in UK when talking about nude photography, while she was visiting the Finnish capital.

Grace is planning to move to Finland in the near future this year due to the studies and work of her husband, who collaborates with the Finnish opera designing stages, so our talk is a double opportunity, firstly for us to get to know more about nude photography and secondly for her to get to know more about Finland and Helsinki.

“I cannot believe that it is already 10 years that I have been doing this job!” exclaims Grace, who comes from a very strong classical art foundation, having studied at Central Saint Martin’s in London and in Florence; a classic influence which really can be spotted at first sight in the amazing and beautifully balanced compositions of her photographs. “My father asked me at some point what I wanted to be, if I’d pursue being an artist or wanted to focus on photography, so if I wanted to be a photographer I had to come back to the UK “and get on with it!” and so I did!”.

Grace Vane Percy photography

Grace has been primarily based in London in the infamous neighbourhood of Notting Hill but also travelling around the world to meet her clients. Grace has built a strong reputation as one of the most refined photographers specialized mainly in female nudity. Working exclusively on black and white medium format film, she finds that it makes the colour less distracting and adds a layer between the reality of the flesh and the image.

Not just as a journalist but also as a man, I find curious where is the limit drawn between a photo being considered just artistic or erotic. Grace explains her views: “For me an erotic photo is more about the meaning behind the picture, is not about the woman being objectified but more about showing provocation. You can see in many of my photos as the model looks disconnected from the viewer, but if I want to achieve something more erotic, then I play with the attitude. So the model engages more looking at the camera and in a way being more ‘inviting’ to the viewer”.

Recently she has taken a departure from her standard female subject matter and tried her hand at photographing male models and in some cases with couples. Grace mostly prefers working with women. “I think women definitely feel more at ease with me being also a woman. They do not feel the pressure to be judged and they are often surprised by how easy and natural it becomes to be naked around me. Being physically naked also makes them feel more emotionally naked and they face this kind of photo session as a release and a way to confront an anxiety, because in the end everybody wants to feel appreciated. Usually when couples come to have their photos taken, men are more much shy and hide behind their women.”

I feel curious to know what kind of clients get in contact with Grace. Being the cost of a session with her 575 (GBP), I wonder if usually the people portrayed belong to high class. But Grace thinks is not like that: “There are photographers who do similar job, but charge much more. Also many work digitally so their costs are far lower, you have to discount from my rate the cost of the materials, the film & processing etc… Clients usually always love the results because they end up with something more like you can see in a gallery, they understand the quality and recognise it is art, something which they could even display in their living room. So the person becomes a subject, an inspiration enclosed in a work of art. I like having a variety of clients, and I find with this price range it is attainable for a wider variety of people, which is also more interesting for me. But then when coming to Finland, I have to see if I need to rethink the prices”.

Grace Vane Percy photography
And Grace has already being doing some research about how the market could be in Finland: “I have heard that now here is an interest in Boudoir Photography, which has a different feeling to what I do, so that shows a certain curiosity about nude/semi nude imagery. I have seen a lot of pretty girls walking around Helsinki. Sometimes I feel like a teenage boy, cause I would love to walk to them and ask them if I could photograph them naked, but then I do nothing!” says Grace laughing.

Although soon moving to the coldness of north Europe, this seem to be a hot year for Grace, preparing the release of her book “Venus” after 4 years of work behind it and looking forward to future challenges.

Finland prides itself on producing some of the most strong, independent and beautiful women in the world. Now is an excellent chance to enjoy having one of the best nude photographers in the world here in this country and maybe be part of a photo session that will leave you a memorable set of photos to remember forever the exaltation of the female body as the sublime elevation of beauty to be displayed and worshipped.

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Art Exhibitions News

Finnish artist Johannes Sorvali to exhibit in New York

Chelsea’s Agora Gallery will feature the original work of Finnish artist Johannes Sorvali in Interpretive Realms. The exhibition is scheduled to run from July 23, 2013 through August 13, 2013. The opening reception will be held on Thursday night, July 25, 2013 from 6-8 pm.

About the Artist

As he opens a window into the limits of reality, Finnish artist Johannes Sorvali discovers impossible possibilities. Inspired by the illustrations of science fiction comics, horror films, and video games, Sorvali creates an otherworldly realm of fantasy. From within these dreamlike visions emerges a world inhabited by strange and intensely powerful creatures; kings and queens, demons and phoenixes are wrapped in turbulence and darkness. Designing his art purely for its aesthetic qualities, Sorvali leaves any interpretation of symbolism or meaning to the viewer’s imagination. The artist builds his works in oil paints on canvas with considered brushstrokes, layering darkness and light in warm and cool hues to give his works a richness of depth and tone.

Johannes Sorvali painting

Born in Helsinki, Finland, Johannes Sorvali grew up in the small town of Kouvola immersed in the influences of computer games, comic books, and graffiti art. Self-taught as an artist, he currently teaches math and chemistry in a high school in Helsinki and lives in the neighboring town of Espoo.

Exhibition Dates: July 23, 2013 – August 13, 2013
Reception: Thursday, July 25, 2013, 6-8 pm
Gallery Location: 530 West 25th St, New York City

Gallery Hours: Tues – Sat, 11a.m. – 6 p.m.

Event URL:

Art Cover story Features Misc

Street art in Helsinki… and in Las Matas!

Written by Eva Blanco Medina

Street Art is finally determined to conquer the public spaces all around the world. Going from small populations that sometimes see their essence reduced to the highway exit number they represent on the map, to those cosmopolitan cities where the reinvented hipster urban culture (people riding retro-bicycles in their cool hats, checked shirts and carefully worn out jeans) seem to be melting the snow.

Las Matas

And that is how, leaving the A-6 highway at exit 24, we arrive at Las Matas – a tiny town located in the Northwest area of Madrid, Spain. The inhabitants of this quiet-to-the-boring place spend their lives surrounded by holm oaks and a never ending succession of residential neighbourhoods, a routine just altered when a new restaurant opens its doors, or when once a year, on the first of May, everybody gets extremely drunk celebrating the municipal festivity.

Las Matas

So, last Christmas, on the morning the villagers woke up to a bright rhombus-shaped sign, placed in the middle of the roundabout that gives access to the district, a mix of confusion and pleasant surprise sparkled the air. ” WELCOME TO Fabulous LAS MATAS. Little Town”. That was the readable message on the board. A creative work done by a fine arts student as a copy of the one that stands in the American Capital for gambling, Las Vegas. The funny thing is that we could play a new version of “find the seven differences” using images of both places each side of the page, but this time we would have to call it, “find the seven million differences”. And that is why the sign was so warmly adopted by the villagers. A pinch of irony accompanied the thought that Las Vegas was so, so far away, maybe not even in the same Galaxy, and, at the same time, that was such a relief.

Then, the Town Hall realized that the sign had been placed without the pertinent Administration´s permission, and thus, it was removed. But just temporarily, because people have the bad habit of fighting for the things that make them smile, and so the locals decided to use the social media tools to start a supportive campaign, so that they could keep their new (and fresh) identity symbol, and eventually, it worked!

Stop töhryille-projekti

Töhry is the Finnish word that describes a “mess” in a wall. From 1998 to 2008 the City of Helsinki developed an annually renewed initiative called the “Stop töhryille-projekti”, whose aim was to remove graffiti, stencils, stickers or any other kind of street art expression from public space. In order to assure the walls would remain clean, the City relied on private security operators such as FPS, a company founded in 1997, whose power and influence were specially reinforced over the (also known as) zero tolerance period. However, in 2003, scandals based on the aggressive strategy followed by FPS to fight what they labelled as vandalism damages, started to appear in the media. There were some testimonies from youngsters reporting how they had been beaten up or mistreated by the security agents when they got arrested for supposedly being graffiti painters.

Fifteen year old guys were hit and fined during this period“, says Kukka Ranta, a very fluent in Spanish journalist and photographer, who, together with Mikael Brunila and Eetu Viren, wrote the book “Muutaman töhryn tähden” ( an investigative work to provide an in-depth perspective on this recent decade). Then, while nibbling at a non-curved croissant, she explains that the system established for the payment of the fine added on 16% annual interest if the fee remained unpaid. “This regulation led those teenagers who had been fined to a very complex financial situation in which asking for study grants or any other kind of private loan would be no option, given that they had already contracted a large debt with the Administration”, and Kukka continues, “Isn´t that the best way of ruining somebody´s life for having done a harmless minor act?“.

Unique graffiti designs for the cover of the book

One of the inflexion points was in 2006, when somebody posted a video on Youtube that showed a man being hammered at night by a couple of FPS security agents. The scene occurred in Kontula – one of the most conflictive suburbs in Eastern Helsinki with a serious problem of alcoholism. The publication of these images, together with other initiatives such as the demonstrations organized by leftist political groups, the pressure put on the issue by independent media and online fora, and the creation ( by Kukka Ranta herself and her colleagues) of a website where critical voices surrounding the “Stop töhyille-projekti” were gathered, precipitated the end of the programme two years later, in 2008. By that time, a new discussion based on the possibility of opening public spaces for new artistic purposes, rather than strictly commercial ones, was starting to take shape within the Helsinkian society.

Multicoloured Dreams

The story of the “Multicoloured Dreams” (MCD) project starts, like many others, with a visionary idea. And the first driving force behind it was Pauliina Seppälä (journalist and sociologist) who at the beginning of Summer 2010 launched a question to a Facebook group called RHC – a refugee hospitality club Pauliina herself was coordinating- wondering if anybody would be interested in painting street art messages on construction site walls. The previous year, construction sites in Helsinki began to have plywood walls put around them, which, scrutinized by an incisor look, provided the perfect temporary canvas for a new treatment of street art, which would start being legally protected… without giving up its provocative component.

There were two people who immediately accepted Pauliina´s offer: Satu Kettunen, still one of the leaders of the MCD crew, and an Indian architect named Kavita Gonsalves who was then living in the Finnish Capital. “I must admit that it was a really happy coincidence that the three of us got together, because we were a good combination of vision, devotion, thinking outside the box, and all with hands-on attitudes. So very soon we had planned a nice project“, explains Satu when asked about the beginnings of the initiative. The first thing they did was to suggest having the project included on the official calendar for the upcoming Helsinki Design Week, and, when the organizers of the event accepted, they continued the process by asking for the City Architect´s permission. With the eagerly awaited green light, there was just one more thing to do: spread the word around the social media, so that every artist wanting to participate in the project could have the sketches prepared to be approved. Satu also considers that their modus operandi, based on the ultimate respect for the political and social authorities, helped them succeed in their approach, “The fact that we were politely asking for the permissions, and showing them the sketches before painting…the whole procedure seemed to fit here. They trusted us”.

The Kaunianen Project

After the open-call projects developed for the Helsinki area in 2010 and 2011 (both based on voluntary work, meaning no institution was financially backing up), there is one assignment that occupies a significant stage in the trajectory of MCD: a big, half-year-long, project made for the City of Kauniainen, located inside the Espoo area. Its skeleton as a whole included street art workshops for students and seniors, a painting day for kids, a couple of artworks produced by the 8 people who belonged to the coordinating team and an invitation to Otto Maija to act as a guest artist. The City commissioned all the activities, the teaching, the organization and the painting itself, and this gave regular citizens the opportunity of playing artist role for some days. Not only could they explore their hidden talents and creativity but they could also contribute to the beautification of their home town.

Applying for grants is one of the main tasks the MCD team has to face in order to assure the growth and social impact of their association. “More street art projects need to happen in Finland, that way, the financial support will also increase. That´s how the grant policy works in this country“, says Satu, always pointing out that their goal is far from creating a profitable business. In the same sense, Veera Jalava, a younger -but equally attractive- version of the actress Anna Torv (Fringe), and another member of the MCD organisational team, remembers that “the original philosophy of the initiative relied on voluntary work. It wasn´t thought of to earn a living out of it, but to make the city more alive. To give wider possibilities to everyone to do street art“.

Mural by Antti Mannyvali

Antti Mannynvali agrees to this non-profitable perspective. The artist, who has contributed with his talent to one of the MCD projects in the centre of Helsinki, considers that voluntarism is a core issue, “for me, this is something that is aimed at those who just want to produce visible art. The motivation for doing this is not money. But even then, since the visibility provided here is hard to reach otherwise, that could culminate in other gigs which might involve getting paid“. Then, when asked about the relationship between the city and the possibilities for street art, he claims, “A large part of public space could be open to artistic expressions. It is something that interests and motivates young people to be creative, and I think society should try to encourage them in a positive way. For a long time they spent humongous efforts trying to marginalize those youngsters and force them into becoming hard criminals. I can’t understand that approach.”

Finally, the Multicoloured Dreams project has also been the target for some criticism from the so-called purist sector, those grafters who claim the nature of street art to be illegal, and asking for permissions and handing in sketches to be approved is far from its essence. However, Satu makes herself very clear regarding this point, “I don´t think we are taking anything away from the illegal painters. We haven’t had many old school graffiti artists taking part in our projects, but they are also very welcome. I believe that people need the possibility to make a difference to their surroundings, to leave a mark…to take the city streets for themselves away from the commercial companies“.

Art Books Exhibitions Features

Comic Exhibition in Helsinki: “Futuro Primitivo”

Portuguese artist and old colaborator Marcos Farrajota visited Finland during the Comic Festival hold in Kamppi, so we had the chance to talk to him about his views on Finland and his current exhibition in Helsinki Comic Centre:

Hi Marcos. You are currently in Finland for the comic fair, and you have visited this country a few times in the past. Can you tell us your impressions about Finland, and what brings you here so often?

I come because of the comics fest. I like Finland culture: music and comics, and I think Finns funny…. They are more latins somehow that look at first sight!

Were there any works-artists that you especially liked during the comic fair in Helsinki?

I think this year the festival looked more commercial so I actually missed some older artists of the Finn scene and didn’t found brand new blood or something that blow my head like in the past. But the best one should be OLIVIER SCHRAUWEN

You told me that you are going to spend time in a residence for artists near Turku. What are you going to be doing there during the next weeks?

I’m doing my new comic book. It’s about people that collect stuff, archives and piracy. Should look like an essay but as usual with autobiographical episodes…

futuro Primitivo

You have a new comic book, where you have put together the works of many artists that send you stories. Can you explain a bit more in detail about the project?

For starters it’s called Futuro Primitivo (Primitive Future in English, Primitiivenen Tuleivassus in Finn) , ripping off a Sepultura song, hahahaha! Well, I fed up of doing anthologies and decide to make a new concept for this… So I decide to make somekind of “narrative DJing” which means that I ask to 40 artists to send comics with a “post-apocalitic” theme but in 2 strips per page so that then I could remix the sequences and turning 40 stories in just one story. I guess nobody made this and this opens a new way to work in comics in the future. Also, you can download for free the soundtrack of the book /exhibition on the net-label You Are Not Stealing Records.

You have a current exhibition in Arabia in Helsinki. Can you say a bit more about what the visitors can find there, and until what date will be running?

Until 1st October, you can see the original work / drawings of the book, so it can see a contemporary comix from Portugal authors. You have all kind of images and graphic styles, I guess this is good for starters, then you can see / buy also Chili com Carne (the label of the publisher of the book) editions and the silkscreens – some also are “graphic DJing”, we ask some graphic designers to pick up images of the comix book to make a new image / poster / silkscreen.

What are your next projects after your stay in Finland?

Actually the show goes to Mälmo (Sweden) to open there in 14th October… I try not to think about the future (primitive or not) because I’m focusing in my new book so going to Sweden is already something real… And then in December is the Independent Edition Fair in Portugal – in Porto, at Maus Hábitos venue. Go there!

FUTURO PRIMITIVO exhibition in Helsinki Comic Centre – Sarjakuvakeskuksella 5.9.–1.10