ARTIST INTERVIEW / Tuija Markonsalo

Name: Tuija Markonsalo, “Törky”, “Mummo”
Age: 40
Lives in : Helsinki Toukola
I Work: at home
I think I will grow up to be: a gardener, landscape architect, florist, student counselor, teacher, therapist or gallerist
Things I like: cats, kids, grannies, sauerkraut, London
Things I dislike: Reality TV, mosquitoes, crises and setbacks
The soundtrack to this exhibition is: Mrs. Mc Ginty`s Dead by Agatha Christie BBC Audiobooks

Please tell us more about one of the exhibition works:
I have recently had much interest in textile art, and followed the international textile art magazines. In my view, textile art, themes and styles feel sensitive, feminine – and also a bit boring. I wanted to find something new. Being in a new place makes it possible that we may also find entirely new perspectives.

During the time I was an exchange student in London, and often admired in East London Brick Lane for graffiti. I went to the opening of an exhibition there a few years ago and took pictures of the same street graffiti. The topic was then left brewing, and finally at the end came the “No parking” work.

I have acquired on Huuto.Net old, ripped tapestries, and painted, entangled, and worked on them further. The end result is a kind of legal graffiti. I hope the work is especially appealing to children and adolescents, although the method of treatment is a bit like a grandma.

You wouldn’t want to compartmentalize your work as jewelry, a small picture, or art work in progress. Why do you avoid being categorized?
I must have always been difficult to find a seat at the visual arts and crafts resources. I have started with the jewelry, but tried to struggle out of the artist’s jewelry and shed the title of a craftsman. I do not want to make earrings for grandmas.

I played with these titles for years. Now, however, on some level, I have gone back and accepted the Craft. The English term “modern craft” seems especially to speak to power. I hope that during the exhibition, the viewer does not make a vain effort to think as to what my work should be called. My pieces are free to have a temper. I do not want to blow glass vases, which are intended to please 90 percent of the audience.

Do you plan your work in advance or are they produced using a more spontaneous creative process?
I’ve never been able to draw a draft on paper in advance of my work. I go into the material, I find my articles and I wonder what this would bring about. The process is an integral part of my art, in the process of working is meditation, cleansing and taking off. It’s the process of adopting the crafts, emphasized. I feel the same as a typical crafts person, but that comes with a touch of madness.

My idea of art is down-to-earth. My themes of work convey the idea that “art is for everyone” or even “art without a brain.” By that I mean that to me art has more to do with the feeling than the philosophy.

You are a kind of everyday goods in the world explorer. What are the best places to hunt for materials?
Now that my kids are small, I do not have as much time to scour flea markets. I buy quite a lot of goods on Huuto.Net. Fortunately, seven years ago at a flea market in Hietsu (a well known flea market in Helsinki) I bought enough material to continue my work from an old man who got his stuff from and old chemist store. The work has been for me also about cleaning and emptying the warehouse.

What type of art you are interested yourself in the moment?
Joel-Peter Witkinin’s black and white images: they are dark and physically crude, but very beautiful and well constructed. I also like Gilbert & George, and Marc Ryden’s photographs and paintings. All of the above artists are artists whose art is a lot of grip on craft, the technical image of a building. More generally, I am interested in Gothic art, textile art, DIY-art, folk art and street art.

Tuija Markonsalo: Updates
Exhibition at Napa Gallery 3. – 27.2. 2010

Interview: Verna Kuutti
English translation: Edna Nelson

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