Lokal Creators / Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen

Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen is a multidisciplinary artist, designer, and researcher. She started out as a photographer, specialising in autoportraits and polaroids, later moving to France to work in the field of fashion and nourish her aesthetics through the decadence of the Parisian rock scene, French countryside antiques markets and Saint Laurent. A decade later, she returned to her homeland Finland, and after designing prints for Marimekko, she has concentrated on art textiles (rya rugs and silk jacquards), glass and ceramics. Her works have been exhibited at Lokal for several years. We visited her studio as she was preparing her pieces for the Sinua sinua rakastan exhibition (Lokal Gallery, 23.9.–22.10.2022).

Lokal Creators / Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen

Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen is a multidisciplinary artist, designer, and researcher. She started out as a photographer, specialising in autoportraits and polaroids, later moving to France to work in the field of fashion and nourish her aesthetics through the decadence of the Parisian rock scene, French countryside antiques markets and Saint Laurent. A decade later, she returned to her homeland Finland, and after designing prints for Marimekko, she has concentrated on art textiles (rya rugs and silk jacquards), glass and ceramics. Her works have been exhibited at Lokal for several years. We visited her studio as she was preparing her pieces for the Sinua sinua rakastan exhibition (Lokal Gallery, 23.9.–22.10.2022).

Lokal: What are some of the things that inspire your creative process?

Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen: “Mostly I’m inspired by different layers of history – visual arts, different styles and cultures – and on the other hand, the colour of my morning matcha or a blooming bush in the yard can totally take me over. I have studied inspiration at Aalto University, and only in recent years I have learned to block some of the things that inspire me out of my mind. This way I can focus on just a few topics in more depth – I might even work with some for several years.

Art Nouveau has fascinated me for a long time; my love for the style developed after living in Brussels for a while. A few years ago, I held an exhibition in Hvitträsk, and as a result I became enthusiastic about the artists of the Golden Age of Finnish Art such as Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Hugo Simberg. The obvious connections to Japonism found in the works of that period led me to get excited about the works of the Japanese Edo period master Ogata Korin and his ceramicist brother Ogata Kenzan. Associations and layers like these are typical for my inspiration processes. At the same time, for years I have obsessively been repeating the snake figure.

I consider the role of inspiration in the creative process to be collaborative, and it may even be the case that sometimes the subject of inspiration is actually the starting point of the creative process. For example, Monet’s Water Lilies paintings have set in motion countless new works, the number of which is increasing indefinitely. I secretly dream that my works could also serve as a source of inspiration for someone.”

L: What are some important principles in your work?

HK: “I do as much as possible by hand, and as little as possible on the computer. This means that drawing and painting, as well as material experiments, are at the centre if my creative practice. However, sometimes I need to use the computer, for example when I am binding models for the digital jacquard loom. I understand that in some way working on a computer can also be considered as craft, but for me my own hands are the most natural work tool – and always close by.

Old craft techniques present an endless source of inspiration for me. I try to renew them for example by using open-brushed mohair as the material of my rugs, or by combining drawing with my woven works, which thus resemble soft paintings.

I’m not trying to put as many works into the world as possible. Most of my works are unique and completely handmade, which slows down the pace appropriately. Sometimes, though, it happens – because I am very committed to my beloved practice, that I am almost accidentally a little too productive. However, I am in constant negotiation with this matter, so that I could stay at least in some kind of harmony with the surrounding world.”

L: What made you want to work with textiles, glass, and ceramics? What significance do materials have in your design and production processes?

HK: “I used to get easily bored with what I was doing, and so I decided to expand my practice from textiles to glass and ceramics. Nowadays, since the different techniques and the changes between them keep me awake, time doesn’t feel too long. I have also started to present my drawings and paintings more widely in exhibitions, so I am trying to improve in these techniques as well.

Often, during long work processes, I develop a strong relationship with the materials I work with. I try my best to respect the materials’ own nature, and I don’t force them into a certain shape.

I believe that materials, like subjects of inspiration, participate in the creative process. Sometimes I feel that I’m not really “doing the artwork” myself, but rather that the work materialises through me. I observe the world, and something of it crystallises into a new form as part of the creative process. I am extremely romantic by nature, and the idea of creating works of art together with “the world” is very comforting to me.”

Shop: Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen’s Work

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