It’s the time of year for gingerbread baking- hugely popular in Scandinavia. I have now done two rounds of pepparkakor baking with my daughter- we must have about 30 shapes including all the Moomin family!
Yesterday we made did a gingerbread house- well we cheated as I bought a flatpack from the very handy Danish shop, Tiger (also great for stocking fillers). There is still lots of scope for creativity. Here is the result of our efforts- later on we found a little tomte to make the journey up the path to his house…
Today Finland celebrate 100 years of independence; Finland was under Swedish governance for almost 700 years and then, following the Finnish War of 1809, was annexed to Russia as an autonomous Grand Duchy. The National Gallery in London are celebrating Finnish independence with a small exhibition, centred on one painting, Lake Keitele by Akseli Gallen-Kallela. This morning I attended a talk by Anne Robbins, the exhibitions curator followed by a breakfast at the gallery hosted by Sotheby’s.
Gallen- Kallela, who worked in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is Finland’s great national painter. Lake Keitele, an exquisite oil depicting a lake in central Finland, is, surprisingly for a painting by an artist little known in Britain, one of the most popular paintings in the National Gallery (postcards are a bestseller in the shop)! The serene landscape with its silvery criss cross lines lying across the water, a phenomenon in the Northern hemisphere caused by currents and wind movements (or perhaps the wake of the boat of Finnish folkloric hero, Väinömöinen), is beautifully painted. It has here been assembled with three other versions of the same subject together with related works which bring the painting and its historical and cultural context very much to life.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela was a technically gifted painter, who travelled a great deal, but always returned to his native Finland. Stepping into this jewel of an exhibition is the closest you will get in London to experiencing the exquisite light of the North and the sheer beauty of the Finnish landscape.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Lake Keitele, 1905, oil on canvas.