‘You’re welcome, you’re great’ – Silja Puranen’s strong art

September 25, 2008

Hi, I’m Ivana and I’ll be a guest blogger on Personal Cyber Botanica… covering the issues of contemporary visual art, especially textile art, fashion and architectural design.

Balkan Fibre Art was the name of the contemporary textile art colony, held in Atelje 61 Gallery in Novi Sad, Serbia, from 12 till 22 September, which thrilled me in more than one way. It was my first art colony that resulted with my first group exhibition; second, I met there some really great female artists.

Silja Puranen from Finland being my contemporary art goddess! Here she comes!


S. Puranen: I Could Have Danced All Night

Well, I must admit she was the only one among eight contemporary weaver-knitter-embroiderers that frightened me; something I soon discovered as her extraordinary inner strength, at first looked as distanced, strict and quiet, in any case no typical behavior for an only female/feminist/chicken group.

But than she struck us all! It was a 3rd day when Silja presented her previous work and entered a legend in a ‘post-eclectic’ hotel in a small rainy-foggy town of Sremski Karlovci near Novi Sad. The next morning I borrowed her laptop (as I did many times in 10 days) and said ‘Thank you.’ She replied ‘You’re welcome’, my answer was ‘You’re great’.



Being an art historian I really saw many artworks, from antiquity to contemporarily, but ethics and aesthetics are rarely so bluntly and directly spoken, touching in the same time all of your emotions and senses.


The Birth Of Venus

Silja Puranen studied textile design at Kuopio Institute of Art and Design and basic studies in aesthetics at University of Helsinki, the Open University. She contributed in many exhibitions in Finland and abroad, and won a number of awards: WCC-Europe Award for Contemporary Crafts 2000, Tradition and Innovation, 3rd European Triennial Textile and Fibre Art, Riga 2007, Kaunas Art Biennial TEXTILE 07 just to mention a few.


World’s Strongest Man

Silja uses her everyday reality to make artistic, social and cultural statements. She started off as a student of textile art, using traditional techniques and design, but as she says:

‘In my own art the tendency that accentuates a nature and material aesthetic influenced me for a few years after my studies, but I also worked this phase out of myself. Social concerns and contemporary popular taste – whose decorativeness diverges greatly from the official good taste of the tradition in Finnish industrial art – have come into my works via their motifs and via the recycled materials that I use.’


Rose / Renunciation and Lapse

‘In my current works Finnish culture is particularly visible via the attitude to textiles that I had already adopted during my childhood. On the conceptual level, in my works textiles represent protection, refuge, warmth, survival and memory. Conversely, they also represent the human need to decorate the everyday environment and to manifest social identity.’


Eats Like a Bird

Through very fine stitching and other detailed processes, which often combine new technologies with traditional handcraft skills, Silja communicates serious topics about life and death, framed within lace or placed on a colorful ornament, that strikes you with some kind of cathartic effect. Presenting emotional, psychological or physical abnormalities (anorexia, bulimia, three leg bearded lady…) she speaks about the dangerous processes of normalization that are trying to erase those phenomena from the ‘beautiful reality’. And the best part is that these artworks are wonderful in every sense, including ‘traditional aesthetics’.


Dream of Flying

But this is just a segment of her work. Silja also does some great installations with cotton diapers, cleaning the sea shore or making the streets look nice with the electricity box covering. (just to say how impressive one work was that was stolen from the street only after a few days, probably to enter someone’s living room – so, this is also a plea for the happy return!).


Three Graces

If you thought traditional ‘good mamma’s girl’ can’t be sexy, here’s something to spice up your love life! It surely did make a good impression on us ladies that are trying to combine a self-aware feminist with femme fatale.



With Silja Puranen’s art you have it all: intellectual and down-to-earth, serious and funny, traditional and hype…. So, don’t be scared by the first impression, because you deserve it!

Silja Puranen is currently exhibiting within ‘Cloth and Culture Now’ in Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester, UK and ‘Otto’ in Vantaan Taidemuseo / Vantaan Art Museum Finland.

(Ivana Podnar is guest blogger on Personal Cyber Botanica…)

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