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Art Team Oodidoo in Estonian forest

Artists Minna Rajala and Jaana Kortelainen sketching under the elm tree at Kiigeoru Hiiesalu (photo: Sandra Ruudu).

Art Team Oodidoo's visual artists organised a week-long art exploration to Tartu, Estonia. This trip is part of the group's ecological art project "Weaves into the forest" which started in 2022. In the project, pictures are made of experiences that arise in forest while inter-being with trees. The group uses meditation as a tool to encounter and co-create with plants. The goal is to build a respectful relationship with nature and increase gratitude towards it.

Tartu became the destination of the trip because the Estonians have preserved a special relationship with forests. It has been characteristic among the Finno-Ugric peoples, including the Finns. Tartu is also the twin city of Tampere, where the group is based. The project started at Pyynikki ridge in Tampere with meditation under an old pine tree. At Tarto, the Estonian photographer Sandra Ruudu took artists to a sacred place (hiis). Kiigeoru Hiiesalu is known in Estonian folklore and lies about 20 km southeast of Tartu. The photographer documented the group's meditative and multi-art work in the forest, including the artists' interaction with the old elm trees.

On the left Minna Rajala, Sandra Ruudu and Jaana Kortelainen (photo: Minna Rajala). On the right, artists are preparing themselves before entering the sacred forest (photo: Sandra Ruudu).

The artists worked for a week in the studio of the TYPA. It is a printing and paper art centre founded in the spring of 2010, a private museum to fill the gap within memory institutions and save the last surviving letterpress machines and equipment. Oodidoo artists were warmly welcomed by TYPA's acting director Charlotta Biszewski and other staff of the Centre. The artists had access to a studio (a museum-pedagogical classroom) and a printing press.

The visual artists collaborated to create monotype prints based on sketches made in the forest. They painted the printing plates using vocal meditation which they had learned from the group's musician Hilkka-Liisa Vuori. During the week, the artists also received an invitation from museum pedagogue Kristel Kotta to a family workshop where they were introduced Finno-Ugric folkloristic symbols that had been used in textiles, wood carvings etc. The artists also got to try out the museum's oldest letterpress

On the left, Minna Rajala and Kristel Kotta use the letter press from 1830's (photo: Jaana Kortelainen). On the right, Jaana Kortelainen and Minna Rajala are printing the monotype (photo: Sakari Neuvonen).

The TYPA Centre also served as a base for getting to know the city of Tartu. The main interest for the artists was Eesti Rahva Muuseum, The Estonian National Museum. The beautiful museum building houses, among other things, a Finno-Ugric cultural heritage collection. The Uurali Kaja, Echo of the Urals exhibition focused the material and spiritual culture of these linguistically related peoples.

In the exhibition, the artists also encountered a relatively new concept ”Ethnofuturism” that made them think about the relationship of their own art to the Finno-Ugric heritage.

"Ethnofuturism, which originated in Estonia and draws upon the Finno-Ugric legacy, is a comprehensive cultural strategy. By weaving age-old traditions into modern and future cultural fields, it preserves the archaic patterns of cultural diversity. Ethnofuturism is a unique cultural orientation of the Finno-Ugric peoples. It is a method of artistic creation, code of thought, a way of life; it is a model of adaptation and a way of shaping a modern culture."

Reconceptualisation. 2023. Exhibition text of Echo of the Urals - Uurali Kaja -exhibition at Eesti Rahva Muuseum, Estonian National Museum.

On the left, Jaana Kortelainen at the entrance of the Eesti Rahva Muuseum (photo: Minna Rajala). In the middle and on the left: some museum items from the Uurali Kaja exhibition (photos: Jaana Kortelainen and Minna Rajala).

On the left, Tampere Maja, the building dates from the 18th century (photo: Jaana Kortelainen). On the right, Jaana Kortelainen in the breakfast room of Tampere Maja (photo: Minna Rajala).

The very cosy Tampere Maja was the artists' second base and accommodation. It is the culture centre of Tartu and Tampere, and it offers accommodation for travellers, as well as produces cultural events and art exhibitions. The director of Tampere Maja, Sakari Neuvonen, helped to implement the study trip with his local knowledge and connections.

The study trip was funded by the Culture Moves Europe, the creative Europe programme of the European Union, and the grant was implemented by the Goethe-Institut.


This work was produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union.

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