16.09.2014

Hannu Kähönen and the Baltic Sea

Designer, professor Hannu Kähönen donated the design of the Horizon work-of-art for the John Nurminen Foundation.
Designer, professor Hannu Kähönen donated the design of the Horizon work-of-art for the John Nurminen Foundation.

For me, the Baltic Sea is an important source of relaxation, wellbeing, and spiritual balance. When you see and feel the waves, the wind, the salty seawater and the horizon gleaming in front of you, your nerves will rest and your mind become cleansed. The sea is unlimited. It has taught me things about my own relationship with nature, and about the humility and care you need when you encounter changes at sea. The sea cannot be controlled: we must adjust to its movements.
The sea is a powerful aesthetic experience for me, and one I want to re-experience every summer, sailing in the Archipelago Sea or the Åland archipelago. The clear blue reflection of the sky on the surface of the water and the clean fragrance of the sea are inbuilt allegories of beauty. I believe that in a human mind, a white crest on top of a wave can never become an ugly experience. This symbol of purity is an important part of our collective consciousness, and I believe that regardless of any cultural issues, it is always and all over the world understood in the same way.
During the years, I have become increasingly worried about the dramatic loss of clarity in the water. Now, here and there, visibility is less than one metre, whereas only 20 years ago it was possible to see schools of fish glistening 10 metres deep. Anyone who visits the archipelago will by now be only too familiar with the continuous increase in the volumes of harmful blue-green algae. Around the world, I have seen places that have been irrevocably ruined, leaving me with a desolate impression of the greed and negligence of man. Water pollution changes our attitudes not only towards the sea, but also towards ourselves. We must hope the Baltic Sea will not become such a memorial.
The Baltic Sea is a small basin of brackish water with an average depth – 54 metres – that is considerably lower than that of many other seas. The average depth of the Mediterranean, for example, is 1,500 metres, and its salinity is of a completely different scale. Because of the low salinity levels and water volumes of our own Baltic Sea, its flora and fauna cannot withstand the increasing strain caused by the phosphorus discharged to the water from agriculture and with wastewaters. The good status of the Baltic Sea and its nature is vitally important to all the inhabitants of the nine countries along its shores.
Reducing the volumes of phosphorus in wastewaters is an important task. With my creative input, I want to promote such protection of the Baltic Sea where raised funds are used to resolve a clearly observable problem. With the clean, gleaming plate surfaces of the work of art placed in Jätkäsaari, in the immediate vicinity of the sea, and its length that corresponds to the average depth of the Baltic Sea, I wished to create a reminder of the fragility of marine nature, and of the importance of protecting the Baltic Sea. I hope the Horizon will gleam on as a symbol for a cleaner Baltic Sea. If we wish to leave something beautiful to our children, reminding them of ourselves and our culture, that something should be a clean Baltic Sea. Every one of us can now take part in the fundraising of the John Nurminen Foundation by purchasing a ‘gleam’ of the Horizon.

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