I have realised that I am living and working in the margin: I am a single mother, I work as a textile artist and I only use recycled materials in my work. People may wonder how I manage the choices I have made, but all of it comes naturally to me. I often forget that most people don’t care about the environment or environmental issues, but this has been important to me since I was a child. My mother used to sew clothes for me and my siblings, usually from the materials from her old dresses and clothes. And my father crafted most of our furniture.
My mother passed away during November 2015 at the age of 80. I lost my father 40 years ago when I was a teenager. I felt that I am an orphan and alone in the world. After those losses I have become the oldest member of my family.
After my mother died I started to work on my Everyday Excellence installation. The installation consists of crystals and 31 pieces of old, black painted wooden tools such as scoops, whisks, hammers and so on. Everyday Excellence represents one month: the first month after my mother’s death. The six-meter-long installation hung in the window of Taitemia gallery in Kuopio.
The second part of the Everyday Excellence installation was exhibited in the Culture Centre Poleeni in Pieksämäki. This ten-meter-long installation was also made of black tools and crystals and was a continuation of the first installation. The second installation includes 47 tools. Some of the larger items in the installation, such as an oar, a digging fork, a big saw and plane, I found from the island of Liukonsaari in Leppävirta where our summer cottage used to be. All the best memories of my childhood are connected to this summer cottage and island.
All the items in the installation are connected to my family heritage, including spending time in nature, picking berries in the woods, rowing the boat and fishing. There are also items connected to memories of our everyday life, such as washing laundry, baking, cooking, building wooden furniture, cutting wood for the open fire and going to the sauna. All these simple and precious things were a part of my childhood when my mother and father were alive.
By Tarja Wallius