Escaping the rat race

Matilda Palmu
Matilda Palmu (MA, Aalto Univeristy) is a Helsinki based feminist artist and designer who draws inspiration for her work from her own life and experiences as well as societal phenomena and her surroundings. She works in the borderlines of art, design and craft. The guiding mantra for her artistic work is “more is not enough”.

In her most recent works Matilda explores her professional and personal identity, gender, sexuality and in-betweenness in the form of textile art as well as paintings. She tries to create dreamlike landscapes and fantasy worlds with her art. Bright colors and surface patterns play an important role in her expression. With bright and saturated colors she can express her restless mind and rich inner world. The surface patterns in her work show the flow or her thoughts.
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Here’s a work in progress photo of a painting that started my new artistic production called “They come in peace”.

It took a while to organize my life so that I can step outside of my everyday life in Helsinki and finally answer to the invitation that I had for AARK residency. I didn’t know how much I needed a break from everything until I arrived at AARK.

I arrived at AARK 10th of December when the evening was already getting dark. I was planning to stay there for two weeks and my mind was full of thoughts, expectations and ideas how I will spend the two weeks. I even had a 'to-do-list' for my stay in AARK. Quite soon I realized that I have to let go of all the lists and the thoughts of productivity and stop. I didn't come here to hurry, I came here to be.

I wanted to see the starry sky and the moon. I wanted to be in silence, escape all the hurry, be present and contemplate. I wanted to escape the city lights and experience the darkness as it is in Finland in December, the darkest month of the year. And that I indeed did.

I was having a late lunch one afternoon and suddenly I saw a glimpse of something pink outside: it was the moon! I got up and ran outside to see it. I tried to take a photo of the moon and capture that disappearing moment when it was rising to the early night sky. The moon was so beautiful, it was pink and orange and huge.
Disco Ball in the entrance to the residency
Every night there was a disco greeting me at the front door.
Sunrise over the sea from the residency window
“One morning I saw an amazing light phenomena caused by the sea fog and the sun. Suddenly it looked like I was in a film set because the light was so unreal. Again, I had to run outside and look at this passing moment.”

I watched the darkening evenings and the sea and listened to silence around me. I sat quiet and let my mind wonder. I was surprised how many hidden emotions I had in my body that came to the surface when I finally had the time to let them out. The two weeks I spent in AARK became such an important, inspirational and therapeutic break from my everyday life. Although I soon abandoned my ‘to-do-lists’ when I got there, I still was able to create and finally start my new artistic production called “They come in peace”. I even had a small breakthrough with my style and new painting technique.

When I was sitting in the bus and heading back to Helsinki I felt rested and my mind was full of new ideas. And I knew I would come back to AARK.

  • Matilda

*All photos by the Author

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Wepbage created by Ubuntu Productions (Korpo)
Most of the pictures by Renja Leino  |  Drone and pictures of the studios by Ubuntu Productions (Korpo)