FINLAND: IN THE ANCIENT FORESTS
In the summer of 2015, I went on a week-long hiking expedition in the forests of the Kainuu region of central Finland to see the heart of the country and capture it in photographs. Although my time was short, my experience with the people and wilderness of Finland showed me what a truly respectful relationship with our natural environment can look like. This series of transparency film compositions was created from the film I shot in that region, with the profound sense of connection I felt with the natural world at that time.
The Finnish people have a deep, innate respect for their natural environment, but I didn’t discover this from slogans on stickers or advertisements proclaiming their sustainability. The Finnish people are far too busy actually doing things to take time to brag about things they consider simply good stewardship. I witnessed their respect by watching the people interact with their environment.
I stayed overnight in farms and houses and ate meals with people who lived in complete harmony with the land, and made a living from the resources. Indeed, Finland’s rich tradition of design (Helsinki is one of the design capitals of the world), particularly in the use of wood, owes a great deal to their respectful relationship to the forests and care of the resource.
Finland is one of the few countries in the world that recognizes “Everyman’s Right”, also called “Right to Roam”, which is the basic human right to be able to walk across (and camp) in any wilderness area, boat in any natural waters, and forage for berries and wild mushrooms for personal consumption on any land. This is because land enclosed for private use and feudalism and serfdom were never established in Finland. Private property (and the privacy it entails) does exist in Finland and the right to roam does not mean hikers can march through your domestic yard or set up camp next to your house, it simply means if you own property beyond your dwellings, people should be able to pass through, eat or sleep on, without hassle.
The time I spent in the forests of Finland gave me a spiritual reconnection to the living, breathing world. The forests are green gateways to continuous visual wonder and mental introspection. Forests are alive and ancient. The trees are mystics that seem to tolerate my presence, likely regarding me the same way I would regard an insect, knowing that their time on earth and memory spans farther than I could in three lifetimes.
I’m actively seeking exhibition opportunities for this series. If you are interested in facilitating an exhibition, or purchasing prints for personal or corporate collections, please contact me here!