Doozo yoroshiku, watakushi wa Kyösti Kakkonen to mooshimasu.
Yours Excellency (Mr. Ambassador), (Ladies and Gentlemen), Dear friends of modern art, design and ceramics,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this exhibition and to say a few words of my collection.
I have been collecting Finnish design glass and ceramics for over three decades. Today my design collection is one of the largest in Scandinavian and it’s said to be unique in both scope and quality. We have already taking part in about thirty exhibitions in Europe and today I am very happy to have this opportunity to come to Japan and share some highlights of my collection with the Japanese audience.
I realize that Japan is the leading ceramic culture in the world, with hundreds of years of tradition in this field. The sensitivity with which Japanese people approach everyday objects is very moving to me.
I truly believe that ceramics can be one meeting point for the Japanese and us Finns.
We do not have the rich pottery traditions of Japan, our ceramics history is somewhat shorter: about 120 years only. In the first half of the 20th Century Finland was a relatively poor country crippled by independence struggles and the world wars. This makes the success of Finnish design and crafts all the more astonishing. The life of my parents’ generation was simple, yet Finland was eager to become part of the international community. They certainly did in the field of design! The ceramic artists like Toini Muona and Kyllikki Salmenhaara presented in this exhibition were highly respected by the international design community. It was in design like ceramics that was seen as an expression of “Finnish style” at its best. And the same period in Finnish design history in the 20th century is also known as Golden Age. The artists present in this exhibition, with their works, can be counted as part of the Finnish national and cultural heritage.
Seven years ago I had a glass exhibition tour of three museums here in Japan. During my visits I have been struck by the deep respect you have for craft and design. I feel like I still have a lot to learn from you in this sense. But I also think we have many things in common. In Japan you have sabi, in Finland we have sisu. They are not exactly the same thing, but they are similar enough to make analog. I hope you will find both sisu and sabi in this exhibition of Finnish ceramics.
Another aspect that brings us together is the close affinity we feel for nature. Rugged Finnish nature – water, ice, rocks and moss – were abstracted in this ceramics works into stunning forms. Having grown up in Eastern Finland, far from urban life, I am particularly inspired by the combination of natural and abstract elements in these works that are now heralded as design classics. On the other hands, we have the romantic story tellers, the pictorialists Rut Bryk and Birger Kaipiainen. I am happy to hear that the Japanese audience has found these artists’ work particularly inspiring.
I would like to thank all the organizers, curators and especially Mrs. Hiroko Sakomura, the primus motor of this project, for all their hard work and professionalism. And finally my special thanks to Hagi Uragami museum.
I hope that you will find beauty and inspiration in this exhibition.
My Heartfelt Thanks for your interest. Doomo arigatoo gozaimasu. Thank you.