Anna Vartiainen

Since childhood Anna has felt totally bewitched by trees and woodland, seeing different characters in the trunks and branches. Growing up, her summers were spent at a forest cabin in the Gulf of Finland where there was endless fuel for the imagination. She enjoyed both delighting and scaring herself, seeing scary monsters as well as benign creatures whilst getting lost in the woods on purpose, climbing on rocks, scrunching through moss and hopping over snake-like roots.

Nowadays she still feels a childlike wonder in nature, and no walk is complete without stopping to photograph or draw interesting-looking trees and landscapes. She loves a spooky scene, and believes it is good to embrace the darkness and let the imagination run wild!

The Marshes

The original ‘Monster Trees’ was drawn in her parents’ garden one night around 10 years ago, when she noticed the lamplight made the trees and shrubs look alive, like there were faces peering out of them.
This idea never quite went away and has sneakily come back to the fore, as she observes everyday scenes with a playful imagination. The magic to her is in the not-quite-seeing, in the uncertainty of the dark, or in the gloom of winter. The world is transformed with the most familiar place becoming obscure, otherworldly even.

Sometimes while she’s drawing, usually in pen or ink, a story linked to the image begins to emerge. It can spring from a feeling for a particular place, a memory, or a passing thought that could have been part of a tale. Rather than a full story it’s more of a snippet, and nobody knows the rest – like catching an overheard conversation. It’s up to you how to interpret what that narrative might be!

This exhibition will be the first time Anna has shown all her working paintings and drawings, alongside the screen prints some of the sketches have led to. You’ll be able to find her in the gallery continuing to work on the project.

Open Tuesday 17 – Saturday 28 March // 10.00 – 17.00