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Photography & Art Exhibition, Hanko Finland 2011


Photographer Fraser Bliss from Turku and artist Pekka Vehviläinen from Hanko host an exhibition at Hangon Kaupungintalon Galleria (Hanko Town Gallery), Oct. 15-30, 2011. As both artists specialize in seascape and lighthouse themes, it was natural for their paths to cross, which happened about three years ago, and a subsequent friendship to form. Coming up with the rather novel idea of hosting  joint photography and watercolor exhibitions, they decided to start in Pekka’s home town of Hanko on the south coast of Finland where he paints and operates a private gallery of his own. Fraser busied himself by making three or four weekend trips with his boat to Hanko and surrounding islands to create images of both Gustavsvärn and Russarö lighthouses which are located on islands and lead boats and shipping traffic into the harbors of Hanko. Russarö lighthouse stands sentinel on a military island at the outer fringe of the small Hanko archipelago and, as such, is located in a military zone which is “off-limits” to normal boating traffic. This presented a challenge for Fraser as exhibition-quality shots of Russarö were definitely required for his “Lighthouses of Hanko” theme. At the end of the day, after being lured by an exceptionally beautiful sunset which backdropped the forbidden light beacon, he was able to take home close-up shots of Russarö lighthouse, but, for this rare privilege, he was obliged to pay a 300 euro fine to the coast guard authorities who boarded his little 40 horsepower vessel on the high seas after the amazing sunset had faded and the curtain of darkness had fallen. As seems to be the case with Fraser, there is never a shortage of adventures in the lighthouse business, and this little escapade is to be featured along with others in his upcoming book entitled “My Lighthouse Adventures”. In addition to the Hanko lighthouse collection, Fraser added exhibition prints from other nearby south-coast lighthouses of Utö, Bengtskär, Segelskär beacon, Jussarö, Porkkala (Kallbådan) and Ronnskär (another military-controlled lighthouse). He also included unusual and dynamic images of Daugavgriva lighthouse in Riga, Latvia as well as a home-town shot of Ruissalo Island in Turku.

Pekka displayed paintings mostly of seascapes and boats as well as a few lighthouses. His work is well known to the local population. The two artists combined their strengths to good effect -the strong colors of Fraser’s photographs combined nicely with the gentler strokes of Pekka’s watercolors into an esthetic whole. The feedback was both positive and enthusiastic from the public as well as local newspapers serving both the Swedish and Finnish-speaking populations. Two separate articles were written in both the Swedish and Finnish newspapers at the beginning and the end of the exhibition. The article in Etelän Uutiset can be read in Finnish as well as abbreviated translation into English.

Concerning Fraser’s work, many Hanko residents, cottagers and boaters who had a long-time familiarity with the Hanko archipelago, and the traditional photographs usually associated with it, commented that they particularly enjoyed both the fresh visual perspectives as well as the colors which Fraser brought to the exhibition.

CLICK on image below to view exhibition SLIDE SHOW.


There was a steady flow of visitors from the time of the vernissage on October 15 until the exhibition was finished two weeks later. The SLIDE SHOW below documents the event. The final few pictures show Fraser, who is a chiropractor, giving Pekka an impromptu manipulative treatment for his sore back and neck. After all was dismantled, the artists made a short trip to the Hango waterfront where they enjoyed the setting sun. CLICK to view SLIDE SHOW.


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