My Finnish Roots
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen (Photographer)
Original Side Gallery exhibition text, 1993:
Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen returned to her native Finland after 23 years in the North East of England, to live and photograph there for one year in 1992. Having always photographed people in Britain, she was surprised to find that it was nature, rather than human nature that captivated and inspired her to photograph in Finland.
Like most Finns, Sirkka has taken her country’s hundred thousand lakes and seemingly endless forests for granted, only to find on her return that both are under threat. Finland’s ‘Green Gold’, the foundation of the country’s spiritual and economic well-being, has become a battle-field and a symbol for the nation’s conflicting aspirations. The primeval forests, comparable with the rain forests in their richness of plant and animal life, are being decimated in favour of fast growing, inhospitable and uniform commercial forests, and all are damaged by pollution.
Scandinavian forests have been recognized as the ‘lungs of Europe’. For Finland her very identity is rooted in her forests, and the modern town dweller who inadvertently condones the exchanging of the untouched forests for his fleeting material comforts, yet feels unexplained anxiety at the cutting of a single tree on a city centre promenade.
In 1977 this selection of images became part of the Puiden Kansa book/exhibition project in Finland. The series was titled 'Juuret ja Siivet' and was printed by Sirkka for the exhibition by the Polymer Gravure printing technique.