Brian Cheung
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Northbound

Thoughts, photos and anecdotes from my travels through Norway, Scotland and Finland.

Tervetuloa

So here we are! Finally at residency #4 here on the quiet island of Korpo. It ended up being a 2 day transit from Shetland to Finland as I had to spend a night in Aberdeen and another night in Helsinki for all the various planes and buses. There aren't any direct flights between Aberdeen and Helsinki so I had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it stop in Paris. According to my boarding pass there was about an hour between flights, but I had completely forgotten how gargantuan Charles de Gaulle was. To get from my arriving terminal to my boarding gate I was made to go through two security checks, a twenty minute shuttle bus and a brief venture out into the arrivals hall. By then I was starting to panic that I'd miss the connecting flight, or that my luggage would be left behind in some dusty forgotten corner of CDG. Fortunately the flight was inexplicably delayed by about an hour (maybe to track down my bags?), so my mad dash through various terminals was in vain.

I was picked up by Outi at Helsinki. We were neighbours and travel buddies for 3 months back at Nes so it was lovely and surreal to be reunited again after all this time. She drove us into the city, which is unsurprisingly just as beautiful in winter as it is in summer (when I last visited on a family trip in 2010). I dumped my bags at a cheap hostel and was excited to go out and pay someone for dinner for the first time in over two months. After pizza and beer Outi took me to her stunning apartment for a few more drinks and to show off said-stunning-apartment. I was reminded of how much I hated hostels that night when I was woken up at about 4am by some drunk guy stumbling in and snoring at the top of his lungs. 

Korpo sits about 4 hours from Helsinki in the Turku archipelago at the south west corner of the country. Heading further west gets you to the autonomous Ă…land Islands and Sweden on the other side of the Baltic Sea. Looking at a map it looks like this part of the sea has been sprayed with an overly eager confetti cannon. There are literally thousands of tiny islands sprinkled all along the coastline, and I can definitely see why this place would be so popular during the summer months. 

Renja and Benkku are the lovely couple who run AARK residency. They met me at the nearby bus stop and took me to my new home for the next three months. My studio space and living quarters are all on the second floor of a larger building that overlooks the ferry connecting Korpo to neighbouring Storlandet. There's space for another artist or two, but for this month at least I will be on my own (barring last night and today, when Renja had over two visiting students - Lydia and Sanna-Liisa - from her class at the Turku Arts Academy). Renja and Benkku divide their time in the apartment downstairs as well as their other home about 9km away in the main town on the island.

Although I'm once again alone in my work space, it's refreshing that there are at least some people around who 1) know that I exist and 2) are nominally interested in what I'm doing here. It turns out that Renja has also been reading this blog, so if you're reading right now, hello Renja! After dumping my bags, Renja drove me into town to give me a quick tour as well as to buy groceries. It's always fun to go grocery shopping in foreign countries - for me it's the first step in figuring out a place. I had a great night's sleep after a sit in the basement sauna. It felt right to spend my first day of the residency sitting in a sauna!

The space is really lovely and cosy. It was snowing in Helsinki when I arrived but everything seems to have melted here now. Still, it feels like I have a great few months ahead of me hidden away on this beautiful island. 

finlandBrian Cheung