Peek inside three Finnish artists’ cribs

Peek inside three Finnish artists’ cribs

We take a look around the studios of three Helsinki-based artists of the moment to see what inspires them.


In the Kalasatama district of Helsinki, Hannaleena Heiska works on a charcoal and camouflage creation.

“I’ve been working in this building for seven or eight years now, and in this space for four years. I could work in any space, but I think the location is important. It needs to be accessible, with enough peace and quiet, and not too much social activity because I need to focus.”

For Heiska preparing the materials also drives her work mentally.

“I try not to be too dependent on getting into a state of flow because I need to work anyways. And when I do get into that flow, well, it’s the best feeling.”

Hannaleena Heiska’s work is currently on show at the Susanne Petterson Gallery, Stockholm until December 22. Her next exhibition will be a retrospective show at the Turku Art Museum from February 2 to May 19, 2019.


Painter and printmaker Jaakko Mattila has worked at his studio in the Suvilahti district of Helsinki for five years. His work explores the universe, physics, and colour so light is key.

“The light was more important than the space when I chose this studio. Light is crucial when mixing colours − the quality of light is everything,” he says.

Modern digital trappings can be a big distraction to artists, so Mattila values focus and discipline.

“I try not to take the digital world in with me, even when it comes to music. I listen to vinyl or nothing at all. When I get into work mode, it takes me in, all my concentration. I come to the studio, make coffee, start mixing paint, and then go straight to it−full on painting.”

Jaakko Mattila is currently working on a show for the Herrick Gallery in London, taking place April 16–28 and for the London Original Print Fair at Royal Academy of Arts, taking place April 25–28.


Visual artist Karoliina Hellberg has recently moved to Suomenlinna from Vallila for a studio residency, so transitioning is on her mind.

“You don’t always know how a new space will affect your work. In this profession, you will move studio and country through residencies and you still need to carry on with your work,” she says.

Hellberg, who was recently awarded the Didrichsen Pro-Arte 2018 Award, has a very recognisable style with colourful paintings that often embrace space.

“I build images a bit like mental-collages − combining different images (found, imagined, and remembered). I love the theme of interiors as it works as an actual space and also as a psychological place.”

As part of the Didrichsen Pro-Arte 2018 award, Karoliina Hellberg’s exhibition takes place at Helsinki’s Didrichsen Art Museum from January 25 until May 2019. After that you can see her latest work at Galerie Anhava in Helsinki from May 2019.

 Text and photos Andrew Taylor


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