A community artist Heidi Hänninen created an art work “Boundaries of shelter” (The Holy Family) in Keuruu Eco village in collaboration with the 1st to 6th grade pupils of Keuruu Kivikoulu. Almost all of the 300 pupils in the school got an opportunity to create their own visual art piece for the installation.
First the pupils created poems on the theme of shelter and boundaries, helped by their teachers in the school. The pupils also illustrated their poems according to the artist’s guidelines by drawing a visual interpretation of the concepts of shelter and boundaries that appeared in the poems. After this the community artist went through the poems in detail with the pupils, paying particular attention to the visual narrative and different visual symbols used for communicating the ideas. The children were also given a chance to recite their poems and got personal feedback from their works. The poems created a platform to create deeper discussion on the meaning of boundaries and the need for shelter.
The discussions between the community artist and the children raised different topical themes such as the political conflicts between countries, immigration, the state of the environment and the computer game world. Younger children found shelter with their family, especially in the arms of their mother, the older ones in different buildings such as their own home and school, nature, hobbies and their own country. Boundaries greatly inspired pupils too. In their poems they debated for example how boundaries are set on children by their teachers in school and parents at home and on the other hand, how the police and the state set boundaries for adults. Through the poems they discovered the connection between shelter and boundaries; when the boundaries are set with love and one learns to set them on oneself, they protect people as well as animals. Shelter was something that the children wished for everyone.
Each pupil selected between one and three visual ideas, based on their poem which they used with the help of the artist to make a stencil for the installation. These stencils were used by the artist to spray paint the window panes that were found in the eco village and designed to be used in the installation in front of Rajatalo. The three dimensional art work depicts simultaneously the borders and the shelter they have created. Its language of form refers to the triangular stop sign on country borders; the installation has eight sides, one of which is open. Each of the other seven sides concentrates on the themes raised by the children’s poetry, such as family, nature, hobbies, town and home, war and love as well as reconciliation. Hänninen found the inspiration for her work in Barcelona, while visiting Sacrada Familia, designed by Gaudi, for the first time at the end of 2017. The artist has been interested in Gaudi’s output since childhood. She wanted to bring into her work the same playful feeling of sacredness that she felt was present in Sagrada Familia, lit by the stained glass windows. The work in Rajatalo is also awakened by sunlight that shines through the painted colour pictures on the window panes and also throws them as shadows on the snow in the winter. The art work itself creates a space that can give shelter for anyone in need of it.