Liisa Kanerva

I had my first whale experience in late 1950’s, at the age of three or four. I remember that together with my father we went to see a giant whale which was shown in the marketplace of Turku (or maybe Tampere) in Finland. To see such a huge animal was an amazing and odd incident. Later I have learned that it probably was a fin whale caught nearby Trondheim in 1952 and conserved in Germany.

In the Baltic Sea there is only one whale species, harbour porpoise. The Baltic harbour porpoise population is my new subject matter. I am sorry to say that this tiny and sympathetic little whale is critically endangered.

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Baltic Harbour Porpoises, 2020.

Some years ago I was in northern Norway. It was a cold and light Nordic summer evening, and I was walking along the fjord shore. Then, suddenly, I noticed how many white backs and heads rose from the waves and sank again. A massive pod of beluga whales slowly passed by, there were hundreds of them. It was an impressive view, like a strange ceremonial procession.

Arctic Ocean is a portrait of a beluga whale. The painting belongs to a series of portraits of sea animals, all from different seas. I call it Ocean Rug because I painted all of them on old plush carpets. Among whales, the beluga is a viable species, one of several in the Arctic Sea.

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Arctic Ocean, 2016, acrylic and ink on the recycled plush carpet.

For an artist, birds are enchanting motifs. All possible colors, so many different forms: long thinlegs of and short, strong legs, webbed feet and sharp and curved claws, elliptical wings and long and narrow wings; long straight and curved beaks. And voices: melodious songs, screams, cawing and rattling. Migratory and sedentary birds. Flocks.


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Seagulls and puffins, 2018, ink drawings on moiré patches.

Already as a schoolgirl, I was an eager birdwatcher. In springtime, I impatiently waited for the migratory birds to return to my northern hometown Kemi, on the shore of the Gulf of Bothnia. Ever since the screaming of seagulls has meant to me: spring is here, winter has gone. Now alarmingly many bird species have become endangered in Finland as well as the other Nordic countries. Climate change threatens in particular northern bird species. It is not the only problem but also modern agricultural practices, eutrophication and construction in wetlands constrain living conditions of birds.


More information: https://liisakanerva.blogspot.com/

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