Into Lapin Raanu, 2015
Open studio, International Artist Programme (HIAP) , Suomenlinna ,Helsinki

During the residency program at Hiap, I was interested in exploring Finnish weaving history and its origins, since I knew how relevant was weaving was in the cultural history of Finland.
I was quite surprised as, little by little, I found out that most of the female artists, who were only considered as “textile artists”, are mostly forgotten nowadays, and whenever I was inquiring information about Finnish weaving techniques, people in Helsinki didn’t seem to know that much about it. The reaction always seemed to be the same: “ oh.. that’s is handcraft, it has nothing do with art”.

In recent years, there has been a general reconsideration of the interesting and lively exchanges about creativity between the innovative work developed by several generations of “textile artists” (from the time of the Deutscher Werkbund and the Bauhaus school) until more recent artists’ success. Many fundamental questions regarding craftsmanship versus mass production, or usefulness versus formal beauty in a commonplace objects, have been touched upond. Subsequently a different understanding and appreciation have been developed towards such innovative artists that have consistently experimented with both traditional and industrialized weaving techniques, redefining what textile art could be. Also the weaved carpets Raanu that I found mostly interesting are fascinating example of an abstract and not figurative art, and reminded me of the nomadic carpets from the natives of North America.
My intuition proved to be right; I found out the origins for the raanu are nomadic and come from Sàmi people’s, Finland’s indigenous people, who have been living nomadically long before the Finnish State was established.
Raanu is an old woolen textile from the 16th and 17th century, that was used as a blanket, tablecloth or curtain, mostly on the western coast of Finland.
It use as a blanket proved to be very important because of the cold climate and leaky houses.
Lap in raanu in its original form is a simple textile with the natural color of wool and no patterns.
The Sàmi people also used to wrap themselves in raanus to keept warm.