Tessa Bunney / Järvenjää / Lakeice
The interaction between man and nature has a long history in Finland. With a population of 130,974, Jyväskylä is the capital of Central Finland and the largest city in the Finnish Lakeland, an area of more than 188,000 lakes. Situated on the northern coast of Lake Päijänne and 270 kms north of Helsinki, the city has been continuously one of the most rapidly growing cities in Finland since World War II and is surrounded by lakes, hills and forests.
Over the past decades, Finland has experienced an unprecedented rate of economic, technological and social change. The whole way of life is now completely different from how it was only a few decades ago. However, the need to connect to the tranquility of nature remains.
My aim with the project Järvenjää/Lakeice was to explore interrelations between people and their immediate environment; allowing the viewer to reflect on diverse uses of natural landscapes within the city. To achieve this work I spent every day walking and travelling by local bus around Jyväskylä to the many lakes in and around the city. Initially, I’m working like a street photographer – nothing is predetermined; the series is built up by spending time out there experiencing changes in the weather and responding to what I see and the people I meet. Later I spent time with the groups of ice swimmers who meet several times a week to relax, take a sauna and swim in a hole in the ice.
Sometimes in blizzard conditions and always in temperatures of between -5 and -20, this often meant wading knee deep in snow across frozen lakes to reach my chosen destination. I was fascinated with how the frozen lakes had transformed the city and they had become a temporary urban park with its specially constructed ice skating track with other more random paths carved out by skiers, dog walkers and pedestrians making short cuts from the houses on the otherside of the city. The division between the land and water had disappeared.
Since graduating from West Surrey College of Art and Design in 1988, Tessa Bunney has worked as a documentary photographer undertaking personal projects as well as a wide range of commissions and residencies nationally and internationally. As a photographer, she has a particular interest in different landscapes and the way they are shaped by human activity. Working closely with communities and individuals, her work explores people’s relationship to the environment.
Home Work, published by Dewi Lewis in 2010 was exhibited and published nationally and internationally including the Land exhibition as part of the Noorderlicht Festival, 2010. Previous projects include Hand to Mouth which explores the lives of villagers and nomadic shepherds in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains which was exhibited and published by Impressions Gallery, Bradford in 2007 and Moor and Dale, Lamb and Eat Better, Eat British all of which explore the lives of farmers and small food producers in Yorkshire (UK) she has been living for the past 15 years.
In 2010, she was artist in residence at Jyväskylä printmaking centre in Finland and undertook a commission for Hereford Photography Festival about the Hereford cow. She is currently based in Vientiane, Lao PDR where she is working on her long term project Field, Forest and Family which is supported by Arts Council England and undertaking freelance photography for NGOs.
Järvenjää/Lakeice will be on show at Photofusion, London from 18th October to 29th November, 2013 . This project is part of the Connections North international residency exchange programme and is supported by Arts Council England. More information on the publication Järvenjää/Lakeice is available here .
Tessa Bunney is represented by Zoe Bingham Fine Art in London and Klompching Gallery in New York. www.tessabunney.co.uk