lauantai 31. joulukuuta 2016

A cat for every month in my home made cat calendar - Happy New Year for everyone

If you don't have your own cat, you can go to the cat coffee shop or to The Cat's Republic. They are great places.

I dont't have my own cat, but as a kid I had them always, sometimes many. I learn to know how crazy, clever, stubborn, independent, wild, wise and sweet they are.

When I nowadays want to meet a cat I go to the a coffee shop. In Finland we have two very nice cat coffee shops, one in Helsinki and one in Tampere.

Sometimes I travel to Tallinn where there is a cat coffee shop or to Saint Petersburg where you'll find a  whole Cat's Republic.

I take my camera with me and ask kindly the cats sit down and be my models when I take photos. But what they do: they turn  their backs or go to sleep under a chair or into a basket.

I have to be patient and wait for a long time to get a picture where the cat has his eyes open. If I'm very lucky I'll get a smile from a cat. Then I'm very happy.

To  share my joy with all cat lovers I made a calendar with a cat for each month of the year.  

Happy new Year! 
Photos: Sirpa Pääkkönen 











perjantai 30. joulukuuta 2016

Old photos by Signe Brander show what kind of city Helsinki was one hundred years ago

Congratulations. Finland celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2017. Many events and fireworks will be organized for the anniversary. But what kind of Finland we had a hundred years ago?
Respected female photographer Signe Brander saved views of the city Helsinki in her photos in the early 1900s.

Today Helsinki is an urban city, but by that time our capital  was still poor, and the city had a lot of wooden houses. Here and there was valuable stone houses that still exist.

Helsinki City Museum has saved nearly a thousand Signe Brander's photographs.
You can see and feel what kind of city Helsinki was before the independence declaration and
shortly thereafter.

Photos Signe Brander Helsinki City Museum

Wooden house

Kaisaniemi park.

The statue of Runeberg. Esplanade park.

maanantai 26. joulukuuta 2016

Snow creates beautiful landscapes - Helsinki is dark and without snow but in Lapland you can see a lot of snow

Snow is beautiful and makes the landscape peaceful. Just now we don't have at all snow in Helsinki in Finland. Every third Christmas is without snow in Helsinki.

But if you go to Lapland there is plenty of snow and also plenty of tourists from all over the world. People coming to Lapland may see snow for the first time in their life. Then you have to learn to ski and walk in the snow, it might be slippery.

In photos you can see the snow where ever you are.

Photos: Sirpa Pääkkönen

Senate square, Helsinki

torstai 22. joulukuuta 2016

Christmas is the most important celebration of the year in Finland - Santa Claus brings the presents


Merry Christmas from Finland!

For Finns the Christmas is the most important celebration of the year. Families gather together and celebrate Christmas Eve.

In the old town of Turku, the former capital of Finland, a special ceremony is held to declare the beginning of Christmas peace period, starting at 12 o'clock noon on Christmas Eve and lasting for twenty days. The citizens are wished a merry Christmas and prompted to spend the Christmas time peacefully, avoiding noisy and rowdy behavior.

Children watch the animation Snowman in television and wait Santa Claus. Actually Santa Claus speaks and reads Children's letters on television in the morning.

The Christmas Eve many people visit cemeteries and light candles on the graves of their relatives. The cemeteries look like a sea of candles on white snow, if there is snow. In Helsinki there is no snow just now.

Sauna is important for Finns and the Christmas sauna is a special tradition. The sauna has a purifying effect for body and soul.

After Sauna Finns will have the Christmas dinner: leg of pork, casseroles, cured salmon, perhaps turkey. Rice pudding can be served in the morning or as a desert. One almond is hidden in the pudding. The finder will be lucky next year.

The most important moment for children is when Santa Claus arrives from Lapland. his home is  in the place called Korvatunturi. Santa Claus travels with a reindeer to bring presents for children. Santa Caluas ask from children if they have been nice and hard working. The answer is yes, of course. Children will also sing to Santa and wish a very merry Christmas!

Photos: Sirpa Pääkkönen

keskiviikko 14. joulukuuta 2016

The Forbidden City in Beijing is the most popular museum in the world – 15 million visits last year, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg had 3,7 million visits

The Hermitage in The Palace Square in Saint Petersburg. Photo: Sirpa Pääkkönen

In recent years, the world's most visited museum has been the Forbidden City Palace Museum in Beijing, China. The annual number of visits has risen there up to more than 15 million. At the forefront of the world has long remained the Louvre in Paris (8.6 million visits in 2015). Northern European museums overwhelming number one is the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg (3.7 million visits in 2015).

The Forbidden City. Photo: Wikipedia.
These data derive from Statistics Finland'scultural statistical table package.

The Palace Museum in Beijing is located in the imperial palace of the consecutive Ming (1363-1644) and Qing (1644­-1911) dynasties. The architectural complex is also known as the Forbidden City in the middle of Beijing. The museum has vast holdings of paintings, calligraphy, ceramics and antiquities of the imperial collections. In 1987the museum was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

According to Statistics Finland going to museums has increased in many countries. For example, visits to museums in Estonia amounted to almost 3.3 million in 2015. The number has doubled in 12 years. Strong growth is affected not only the increase in the Estonian-tourism also the opening of new major museums, such as KUMU Art Museum in Tallinn and the Maritime Museum of Flight Port of Tallinn. Growth is likely to continue, as completed in 2016, located in the National Museum in Tartu in Estonia is expected to more than 300 000 visitors a year.

Museums are gained popularity in all Nordic countries, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, France, Spain, Russia, and especially in China.  In Finland, the number of museum visits has increased by almost 30 percent from 2005 to 2015.

Victorian style dresses in Kumu, Tallinn.  Photo:Sirpa Pääkkönen
Here you have visit figures of popular museums in 2015: Louvre, Paris, 8,6 million visits, British Museum, London, 6,8 million visits, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 6,5 million visits, Vatican Museums, Rome, 6 million visits, National Gallery, London, 5,9 million visits, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 5,3 million visits, Tate Modern, London, 5,9 visits, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 4,1 million visits, The Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, 3,7 million visits, Musee d’Orsay, Paris, 3,4 million visits.

maanantai 12. joulukuuta 2016

Christmas cards create the image of Christmas – see the old traditional Christmas cards by artist Martta Wendelin

Cards by Martta Wendelin
You can easily send Christmas greetings by email or by Facebook but old traditional printed Christmas cards create a special atmosphere. In Finland people send 30 million Christmas cards last year and now it’s time to send them again.

Every year designers develop new pictures for Christmas cards in which the elves and Santa Claus make adventures, stars shine, candles give warm light and Christmas trees are decorated.

In addition there are traditional Christmas cards designed by famous artists like Marta Wendelin. She drew about 650 Christmas cards between 1931-1963. She shaped the image about traditional Finnish Christmas - how it looked like over 50 years ago when Finland was still very much an agricultural country. Here you see some of her Christmas cards.

torstai 8. joulukuuta 2016

You can spend a day in the Russian Museum with the paintings of Ilya Repin, Isaac Levitan, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich....

Ilya Repin:What a Freedom
In Saint Petersburg you’ll find about 400 museums. It’s a great adventure to search them. You’ll get to know many small museums like Bread museum, Vodka museum and many artists' home museums. And then there are big historical museums with thousands of pieces of art like The Hermitage and The Russian Museum.
I've seen many of the museums in Saint Petersburg and I like them very much.

If you have plenty of time you can spend a day in The Hermitage or in The Russian Museum
The State Russian Museum is the largest depository of Russian fine art in Saint Petersburg. It is also one of the largest museums in Russia.
Kazimir Malevitsh: Peasants.
When you watch the historical paintings you watch at the same time history through the eyes of artists. Many paintings are full of details and they give a shape for historical events, how artists imagine they have happened. You can also see how the styles change and the artist make great creative inventions how to describe the world or internal experiences.

The museum's collection consists about 400 000 exhibits. You can find the old Russian icon-paintings from 12th to 17th centuries, Russian School paintings, the Russian realistic trend and the avantgardist of early 20th century.
The names are famous: Ilya Repin, Ivan Shishkin, Isaac Levitan, Vasily Surikov, Konstantin Makovsky, Ivan Aivazovsky and later Nikolai Roerich, Pavel Kuznetsov, Wassily Kandinsky, Nathan Altman, Marc Chagall, Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin and Alexander Rodchenko, for example.

The museum was established in 1895, upon enthronement of Nicholas II to commemorate his father, Alexander III. Its original collection was composed of artworks taken from the Hermitage Museum, Alexander Palace, and the Imperial Academy of Arts. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, many private collections were nationalized and relocated to the Russian Museum. These included Kazimir Malevich's famous Black Square.

The main building of the museum is the neoclassical Mikhailovsky Palace,  design by Carlo Rossi on Square of Arts in St Petersburg.
Grigory Miasoyedov: The Harvest Time, 1887.

Nathan Altman: Portrait of Anna Akhamtova 1914
Vasily Surikov: Taking a Snow Town, 1891.

sunnuntai 4. joulukuuta 2016

The story of music from the gramophones to the modern ways to listen to the music - a nice exhibition at Hakasalmi villa

In Finland it’s easy for foreign visitors to visit museums. In many places the information texts are in English and in Swedish besides in Finnish, for example in Helsinki city Museum.

One of the most charming venues for the Helsinki city museum venues is Hakasalmi villa in the heart of the city where you can see the exhibition Music! Echoes from the past of a city.  The exhibition is open until the end of February 2017.

The  exhibition provides glimpses of the diversity of music in Helsinki before and now. You’ll get information about school songs, instrument lessons, Christmas hymns, park concerts, walkmans or band T-shirts.
You can test your taste in music, feel the nerves of taking a common school singing test and learn a minuet. Eurovision Song Contest and Hurriganes collectors have decorated their own fan treasure cabinets.

The items presented in the vitrines range from a square piano to a solid body guitar, from functionalism style radios to 70s music store plastic bags, from a Charleston dress to the graffiti-covered door of the Lepakko youth culture building.

Technological development made music independent of the live musician at the end of 19th century. Music boxes became more and more delicate and diverse. The gramophone replaced the music boxes at the end of 1920s. Cheap portable gramophones were available for many and the popular songs started to chime in the street canyons and on the beach.

The tube radio played opera. The small and light transistor radio brought music into kitchens, cars and workplaces in the 1950s. Vinyl records and record players took up place on the book shelf.

In the 1990th CDs brought a new dimension to music. At the 21st century came the tiny mp3 players, you could carry around a music library with you.

Music has been important in bars and restaurants. In the 1830s and 1984s the restaurants in Finland became stylish venues for celebration of bourgeois. Dining and dancing was accompanied by salon bands.
In the summer brass bands played on the stages of Kappeli restaurant and other park restaurants.

In the 1920s jazz came into fashion. In the 1950s and 1960s star singers came to the restaurants. In 1970s there was the disco fever. Later the restaurants started to play recorded music and many karaoke bars were created. Jazz and rock found their home in the clubs.
In Helsinki there are more than one hundred clubs and music baras nowadays.

The hall of the Hakasalmi Villa, once Aurora Karamzin’s salon, acts as a concert hall during the Music! exhibition. The address is Mannerheimintie 13 b.

Photos: Sirpa Pääkkönen