28 February, 2017

Art is a bunch of elitist nonsense

Our visitors know that we love Finnish art. Our walls are filled with gorgeous works, and we use plenty of Finnish design furniture. Helka is a sight to behold, and it’s all thanks to Finnish art.

Unfortunately, art is often associated with images of the rich and the famous, and it is believed that an ordinary person can’t find value in it. Art is often unnecessarily assigned with an elitist stigma that tries to value art according to its status-boosting attributes.

We at Helka value art because we believe it belongs to everyone, and it makes people feel good. We feel that art can be used for much more than boosting one’s social status. Art brings well-being, dialogue and wealth into our society. That is why we will share with you three important reasons for why we believe art is not a “bunch of elitist nonsense” and why we believe it’s something we all have a right to enjoy.

Art is economy

When viewed through an economical lens, art and culture are too often seen as expenses.  This is peculiar, especially when we consider how important art is to Finnish export and image. Moomin, Tom of Finland, Marimekko, Saara Aalto and Nightwish are all brands that are known outside our borders and that are rooted in art.

It is said that a euro spent in cultural taxes can increase six fold in value before returning to the payer. A study made in Toronto pointed out that a dollar invested in libraries gave a return of 5,63 dollars to the city. Besides jobs and tax income, art and culture create economic well-being.

We at Helka feel that an investment in art is an investment in the well-being of our customers and employees. We have art in many forms here at Helka. Although we don’t have original Tom of Finlands or Moomins, we can enjoy the works of Touko Laaksonen and Tove Jansson on coffee cups and coffee bags. We have plenty of original works from future greats though. For example, our corridors are decorated with the innovative, Helsinki-inspired works of Heidi Valkola.

Art is well-being

Whether by painting, cross-stitching or working with clay, art is an excellent way of expressing feelings. Many of us have experience of channeling our joys and anxieties through rhymes, brush strokes or dance choreographies.

Art can be a tool that helps people with mental illnesses get back to work. In Finland, workshops aimed for young people with mental illnesses have returned 62% of their participants back to working life. These young people have had a decision of retirement, a long sick leave or they have been on a rehabilitation allowance. Normally only 10% of people that have been on over six months of sick leave return to work. Thus, art has a great effect on Finnish well-being.

The Finnish YWCA, which owns Hotel Helka, gives out an acknowledgment prize of 10 000 euro annually. This year the theme of the prize is culture and art as empowerers of a good life. If you know someone who deserves this acknowledgment, let the Finnish YWCA know by 31.3.2017.

Art is communication

A dove of peace wearing a bullet-proof vest is targeted by a gun. A little girl embraces a bomb. A young man covers his face after throwing a bouquet of flowers. These are all descriptions of works of Banksy, a British graffiti artist.

Artists have always used their works as ways of telling the rest of us how they view the world. A dove clad in a bullet-proof vest bears a strong message. We all have our unique way of interpreting that message, but we all understand that artists want to draw attention to matters that are important to them.

We have long hosted Marita Kouhia’s magnificent, hip hop -themed art exhibition here at Helka. The colors, rhythms and looks of Marita’s works are so captivating, that no one who sees them is left speechless. Marita’s works communicate with both the artists that inspired them and the people who admire them. Marita’s exhibition is open for all at Helka’s Kitchen and Bar.

Art also breaks borders between people with different points of view. Hugo Simberg’s The Wounded Angel has influenced children and adults for decades. The Chinese Rainbow Chamber Singers -choir fittingly put to words the social pressures that are on young people around the world. Communication and border breaking are even more important in our multicultural world. Art has great potential in getting us to understand each other.

People of Helka