Katja Hagelstam has been surrounded by art and design her entire life, growing up with a father who’s run an art gallery and auction house.
— When I was very young, I found photography fascinating. Very soon, I learned the basics of product photography by shooting for the auction catalogues — paintings, sculptures, furniture, jewellery, silver, glass design, and a wide variety of art objects. This later became my profession, and I have been very lucky to get to document the beauty in many different forms for books and magazines.
Ten years ago, she got the idea to show pieces from selected and talented makers in a physical form, instead of just in pictures, and opened the combined retail space and gallery Lokal in the heart of Helsinki.
— The desire to combine artworks with functional objects made by hand in a homey setting was like shooting the pictures but in a different way. We can have an art piece worth €5.000 next to a handmade coffee cup for 50 euros. The same as you would do in your home. The concept was new and got a lot of interest in town but also internationally. Throughout the years, we have also presented exhibitions with a mix of different techniques, materials, and makers. The new 10-year-anniversary exhibition is number #80.
The mentioned anniversary exhibition is named Current and sees water — as a current moving eternally forward — as the central theme. Water as an element is in itself without form, and for that reason, it always takes the form of an existing vessel, object, or place. Likewise, an art object gives a form to different materials, thoughts, and feelings. The word, ”current”, is also a reference to something happening or existing in present time, capturing both movement and being in the present moment.
For the exhibition, Lokal has invited 10 artists and creators who has been important to its very existence: Renata Jakowleff, Antrei Hartikainen, Sasha Huber, Aimo Katajamäki, Matias Karsikas, Nathalie Lautenbacher, Outi Martikainen, Naoto Niidome, Rasmus Palmgren, and Kristina Riska.
How has Finnish design changed over these 10 years?
— You can see a growing interest in handmade things and local production is valued more. People are also more conscious consumers in the way that they wish to have less things in their homes but objects that matter. Due to the pandemic, online shopping has become more popular, even with art pieces. And this is not a bad thing, it just requires more and better photos of the pieces. This is my challenge, to still develop myself as a photographer and not get lazy, Hagelstam concludes.