Contemporary art

Artist Emma Jääskeläinen spent three months at the Temple Bar Gallery + Studios in Dublin. We interviewed her about her residency.

What kind of a place is the Temple Bar Gallery + Studios?

“TBS+G is a converted shirt factory. My residence studio was one of biggest in the building and it instantly stirred up a need in me to do material tests and take the space in control. It took time to get used to the repetitive playlists of street musicians on the busy tourist street in front of my studio, and I did wear earplugs. The staff and other artists at TBS+G were lovely, they gave me support in finding materials and navigating the city.”

What surprised you most during your stay?

“News about this residency came quite surprisingly, so I didn’t have too much time to plan anything. I decided to go to Dublin with an open mind and use materials that I could find to work on the scale model of my upcoming exhibition in Turku. During my last week, I decided to do a research trip to Galway. I wanted to find Connemara’s green marble and to experience the countryside of Ireland. During my trip I did research by reading, writing and sketching. I definitely got the most work done during that week.”

What kind of stones does Ireland have?

“For example, the gorgeous white granite that spits rust on its surface, fossil-filled black Kilkenny marble and the already mentioned popular Connemara marble, used in jewellery. Connemara marble is a rare green stone. I saw it everywhere in tourists shops in Dublin. I wanted to see it at a quarry, but it was not possible to arrange a visit. Luckily I found a pine green piece of this marble, and I was able to buy an uncut piece in avocado green, weighing six kilos. On a beach in Killiney, I came across many types of stones I imagine had been washed up there from all around the world!”

You have said earlier that you want to give up working with stone as a material. Do you still think like that?

“I don’t think I can leave it. I might have over-dramatised when I said so. Maybe there is a sense of shame or uncool that is connected to working with stones. This is a phase I need to go through now. These works take a lot of time and I need to move forward on the terms of the material. My learning process in working with this material has been a kind of performance, really. My stone artworks often turn into representations of my body parts, or secret images of my relatives and loved ones.”

When you think of your time in Dublin back in ten year’s time in the future, do you imagine it then seems like a turning point in your career?  

“I believe I am in the middle of a turning point in my life. 30 is a good age to commit to life changes that have seemed too laborous before. I will complete my degree soon, and I only became interested in sculpture towaerds the end of my studies. Before I made video art, but then sculpture took over, and I started to learn with the help of YouTube videos. This was my second residency ever, and very different from my first one in rural Italy. In Ireland, I got to know many people with whom I wish to stay in touch. I believe that collaborating with them will take me forward.”


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