Exhibition Review



創業200周年記念 フィンレイソン展 ―フィンランドの暮らしに愛され続けたテキスタイル



2021年10月9日(土) - 2022年1月10日(月)

レビュアー:Terhi Tuulia Eskelinen (29) Visual artist

The Museum of Kyoto has Finnish textile design Finlayson exhibition from October 9th 2021 to January 10th 2021. Since I am from Finland and grew up in the cities Forssa and Tampere, where the old Finlayson factories are located, I became interested in the exhibition. Finnish design, especially textile, seems to be extremely popular in Japan. I have travelled in Europe a bit and did not see so much Finnish textile design in other countries compared to Japan. I wonder a lot what is the reason behind the popularity of Finnish textile design in Japan.

Over two years have passed since I left Finland and came to Japan. When I walked inside the exhibition and saw enlarged photographs of two of my old home towns covering the museum walls, I started to feel nostalgic and even a bit emotional. I was pleasantly surprised to see pictures of the Finnish nature and city scenery of the cities where Finlayson history is tied to.

I spent my teenage years in the city of Forssa. The old Finlayson buildings there have been turned into multi use buildings, for example an education center. In those buildings I studied Japanese language for the first time as a hobby, and made my first printmaking art works at an art club hosted for teenagers. Warm feeling of nostalgia filled me when I was looking at the photographs of those same buildings. I could imagine myself walking inside the photographs and it felt like going on a small trip to Finland, to my old home towns. From time to time I could almost hear the people in the images starting to speak in Finnish language.

The variety of textile designs and the original sketches of the popular designs also pleasantly surprised me. The museum also had some historical items related to Finlayson on display with the textiles. Many of the textile designs were inspired by plants, animals and the Finnish nature. Several of the original sketches reminded me of fine art in their artistic choices. I noticed also that most of the designers even from the beginning were women. It made me wonder about the debate in western art world; if handicraft has a place in fine art.

In Japan, especially Kyoto, I see craft being highly appreciated and there does not seem to be a doubt that craft and art belong together. In western art history, craft has been seen as something that women do inside homes and fine art is “higher” from that. So, in the exhibition, I was happy to see so many women designers even in the beginning of Finlayson having a place to show their artistic skills. The designers made impressively creative and smart choices in how to turn some of the sketches and ideas into everyday textiles.

Some of the textile designs made me wonder if they were inspired by movements in the western art during that time. For example, many of the bold colored, geometrical textile designs reminded of cubism. The usage of colors seemed to also be very clever and showed that the original designers were skilled in simplifying. There was also a small section for Moomin textile designs; everyday textiles that looked like they were pages from the Moomin story books.

Overall, I walked out filled with wonderful, inspirational feelings of fairy tales and magical forests from the exhibition. I started to have a sense of understanding why Japanese people love Finnish art and design so much. Between the two countries there seems to be shared love and artistic inspiration towards the natural world, animals and their hidden secrets.