March’s Artist Interview: Sanna Vainionpää

Posted on 4.3.2014

March's Artist: Sanna Vainionpää.

March’s Artist: Sanna Vainionpää.

Sanna Vainionpää (s. 1977) originates from Southern Ostrobothnia. At a young age she didn’t dream of any specific profession. After school she studied to be a nurse, but hasn’t basically been working in that profession. Nevertheless, she has later applied her education in working as a trainer and teacher with groups that need special care.


“I wasn’t sure, where to move after vocational school, but I wanted out from Ostrobothnia. So I moved to Turku 15 years ago. Soon after moving I did a short education in ceramics, where they taught different designing techniques and visual arts. I had always felt comfortable among creative things, but I hadn’t thought it had something to do with an artist’s profession”, Vainionpää says.


After this Vainionpää worked for a few years for Turku city as a trainer for creative activity. In year 2002 she started to study visual art in Turku Academy of Fine Arts. Her major was painting. Later she has supplemented her education in Tampere and made specializing studies in video art in 2009.


“It is important that I have a feeling of freedom to realize things in the way I want. In the creative field it is possible”, Vainionpää says pondering about her choice of profession.


By the time of the interview in September 2013 Vainionpää worked in an artist residency organized by Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova in Turku. Then she was making sketches of works that create 3-dimensional paintings out of paper and which she realizes with help of scissors and a sewing machine. Playful, colourful works are inspired by traditional handicrafts like rugs and patchwork.


”Ideas just come. I get my inspiration from things that surprise in the middle of everyday. I can get an idea while I’m reading bedtime stories for my children”, Vainionpää says.


Vainionpää likes working on several works or projects at the same time.


Vainionpää digs into colours.

Vainionpää digs into colours.

”Instead of a systematical order, a chaos of many unfinished works can bring forth new ideas and thoughts or cross-breed new works. I don’t want to concentrate only to some specific ways of making art: in addition to traditional handicraft I’m interested in new techniques and materials. I’d love to make video art in the future, but at the moment I’m returning towards painting”, Vainionpää reflects.


Making observations about the environment and intuition are important working tools for Vainionpää.


“In my degree work I followed warning colours and signs in the city space. Later I documented workers working in caution suits. I observed repetitive phenomena in the city space like the Fjällräven-backpacks carried by many nowadays. Even if I didn’t fulfil a work on the basis of my observations, astonishment about my surroundings is important for me”, Vainionpää says.


Vainionpää tries to live with an open mind and she gets easily interested in new things. She also aspires to dig into issues in the current society.


A few years after her graduation Vainionpää joined Turku Artists’ Association and applied to and participated in several exhibition possibilities offered by the association. The years 2012 and 2013 she worked as chairwoman of the board for the Artists’ Association. At the moment she works part-time for the Association organizing the Jubilee year program.


”Turku Artists’ Association has become really professional: goals are set and they are also fulfilled. Getting an executive director for the Artists’ Association has made it possible to collaborate with different instances. The collaboration and networks in Finland Proper could be strengthened even more and new ones could be made”, Vainionpää says and mentions as a positive example the webpage, which is coordinated and updated by Turku Artists’ Association and which informs about gallery and museum exhibitions.


”I would hope that young artists came ardently along and took part in brainstorming and implementing the Artists’ Associations activities. With new ideas and thoughts our activities stay lively”, Vainionpää says.


Vainionpää digs into colours.

Vainionpää digs into colours.

In 2011 Vainionpää participated in the project Hej Hylje!, which brought 40 seal sculptures in the city space. The meaning of the sculptures was to tell the residents of the Cultural Capital about the importance of protecting the Baltic Sea. The Sculptures were designed by Stefan Lindfors and dozens of artists from Southwestern Finland took part in painting them.


Since then the Hej Hylje! & Artists -exhibition series has brought the artists that painted the seals to Logomo in form of a series of exhibitions that lasts for two years. Vainionpää has her own exhibition along with a few other artists in May-June 2014.


Text and pictures: Enni Niemelä

Translated by Pirkko Holmberg



In honour of Turku Artists Association’s 90-years-jubilee the association presents one of its members per month throughout the whole year. Artists Association’s apprentice Enni Niemelä interviewed the members in year 2013. The interviews are published the first Tuesday of every month on Turku Artists Association’s webpages and on Facebook.