When the bigger picture is confusing and hard to see, what else can we do but appreciate the small things?
The Small Things collection by Anna Vartiainen began as studies of wildflowers and plants during last year’s lockdown. The simple line drawings and linocut prints are an appreciation of what we might normally overlook, taking the time to observe what is around us. It came from those short daily walks and spending days at home, noticing the flowers growing and finding pleasure in the longer days. The slow, deliberate process of line drawing and carving helped Anna cope with the difficult time of uncertainty as well as her anxiety about her dad’s illness. From these studies she developed a series of botanical prints, cards and tea towels, which will all be available at the show.
A year since the start of this project and two cancelled exhibitions later, you can find this series alongside some older and new, so far unseen original drawings. Scenes from Anna’s walks near her home, these are local landscapes, capturing the atmosphere of walking in lockdown, when the familiar felt unusual. Personal landmarks such as the local park are often unremarkable places, but at certain times of day the changing light can lend an air of magic, sadness or hope.
This is how Anna describes the moments that inspired the drawings.
‘Walking in the park alone at dusk, or in the woods in pale winter light. Quiet contemplation of another day passed, and with it whatever we have dealt with. Observing the change of season, and the way the lamplight glows behind the trees. Walking the dog with only the light from the hospital windows to show the way. Hearing children playing in the dark skate park.
The fleeting joy of our daughters playing chase in the woods before returning home.
The descending gloom briefly made magical by twilight.’
A bit of background:
A Finn born in France, Anna Vartiainen has lived in the UK almost all her life. Heavily influenced by spending her childhood summers in the Finnish forest, her inspiration remains rooted in nature. She loves the magic of spooky trees and shadowy shapes, as well as the simple joy found in wildflowers. Her ongoing project ‘Monster Trees’ explores the wonderful character exuded by trees and forests, and her most recent project ‘The Small Things’ appreciates the details in what we can find around us.
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