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 tranquillity 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 sub-zero temperatures, 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 ski-ers, 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.
Järvenjää/Lakeice is part of the Chrysalis Arts’ Connections North international residency exchange programme and is supported by Arts Council England.
Since graduating from West Surrey College of Art and Design in 1988, Tessa Bunney has worked as a documentary photographer undertaking personal projects and editorial photography as well as a wide range of commissions and residencies nationally and internationally.
She has a particular interest in different landscapes and the way they are shaped by human activity. Working closely with communities and individuals, Bunneys work explores people’s relationship to the environment. Her project Home Work was published by Dewi Lewis in 2010 and was exhibited and published nationally and internationally including the Land exhibition as part of the Noorderlicht Festival, 2010. Bunney is currently based in Vientiane, Lao PDR while working on an ongoing project Field, Forest and Family for which she has received a Grant for the Arts Award from Arts Council England. She is also undertaking freelance work for NGOs. Her series The Women of UCT6 which documents an all female UXO clearance team in Laos was recently published in the Financial Times Magazine (UK) and was also shown online along with the photo film To Serve a Nation, a collaboration with an audio producer.
Bunney is represented by Zoe Bingham Fine Art in London and Klompching Gallery in New York. website