Terhi Hursti and the Scuola

14 / June / 2017

June 14, 2017

A Finnish calligrapher and book artists writes about her experiences as an artist-in-residence at the Scuola

I am a visual artist, calligrapher and book artist from Finland. My art consists mainly of artist’s books and paintings. With my artist’s books, I have participated in several exhibitions around the world and in those exhibitions I had the chance to create a mixture of binding and content. Three-dimensional form also allows the possibility to create ambitious works. My paintings consist mostly of mixed media and can sometimes be quite abstract. I combine delicate ink and strong acrylic paint to create the right atmosphere, and sometimes I add text or gold in my works.
I visited the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in 2012 and now in the spring of 2017, when I received a chance to come again for a five week residency, I did not hesitate for a moment. My decision was supported by the possibility to teach while visiting.
I began my residency with a Calligraphic Easter Course. I taught drawn letters inspired by the forms of Giacometti’s sculptures and drawings. To me, calligraphy is an artform, in which the versatile expressive force of the line has a chance to convey very deep interpretations and even abstract forms. Half of my students had a background in calligraphy and half were artists. Designing your own letters is not easy and my role as a teacher was to give the students the time and the space to find their own path to follow. This gave birth to magnificent letters and works.
I also taught a small group during five Thursdays, who wanted to learn Viking–style runes. We applied the layouts from the rune stones for our own layouts and in the end we bound the pages together like the rune calenders were bound a thousand years ago.

Terhi’s exhibit: ”On the edge“

To me, Venice is an incredible place. The Spring sun makes the buildings shine like palaces. Windows open, music carries to the street and laundry appears out of nowhere to float over the streets. The birds sing. The splashing of the water turns the surface into a living, forever changing painting. The church bells ring and the ripple of conversation functions as a delicate background music. The city is alive. The happy atmosphere pushes me along. Who could resist this?
I wanted to use my time in the residency mainly to make one large artist’s book, and also to learn something new. The facilities offered by the school gave an excellent chance. Thus I learned a new way to make an embossing. For my artist’s book I wanted to create an extremely minimalistic mood that would also convey ancient echoes from Venice into the present. I felt as if I had long ago lived in Venice myself. Old walls and narrow streets are a jump to a time I thought was long gone, but here it still is. I almost expected to walk into Tintoretto. I would say “Buongiorno” as if it was an everyday occurance, and continue on my way. I feel there are echoes within me that cannot be explained. I drew them out with ink and pointed pen, thus deepening my connection with Venice and gaining a wonderful peace within me.
This artist’s book is different. It is supposed to hang, for it opens to the height of 4,5 meters, allowing the echoes the space to rise to to great heights. I hope that the viewer can also find peace in front of it, where ever their echoes may be.

The Scuola Internazionale di Grafica gave me an amazing environment in which to work. Its atmosphere is like an oasis in the otherwise bustling city. When you are surrounded by other artists from around the world and you can have conversations about art and compare your ways of working, it gets you to explore your own ways of making art and you may find new kinds of inspiration for your own project.
I have been asked why I did not just go to a hotel and work from there; why choose the school? There is nothing to wonder at, because “the bread and salt” of a residential stay are definitely the school and the atmosphere, which is born out of the presence of other artists, conversations, support and joint events. Without this community my stay in Venice would have been incomplete.
The only downside is that it ended too quickly.