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Saara Vallineva - AIR on the Edge residency in Ireland

Updated: Mar 29

Finland based artist Saara Vallineva is artist in residence with Aras Eanna in Galway, Ireland in March 2024.


AIR on the Edge is a one-month international artist residency exchange between Denmark, Finland, Ireland, The Netherlands and Serbia. It focuses on artists professional development, creating opportunities for artists to engage with rural communities and is rooted in rural places and cities on the edges of Europe.


Saara shared some first impressions of the residency so far:


On my arrival to Inisheer I saw the sunset from a ferry and when I reached the shore it was already dark. I felt the seabreeze and admired the stars above me.


Being in a new place can make me feel out of place. It often takes me a while to really understand where I am. This little island has a simplicity I've been longing for. The sea, the wind and stone walls are defining elements of the landscape.


On my first day I walked to a lighthouse and found stones that had holes in them. Looking through them I could see into new worlds. I read that a piddock clam slowly drills a hole into a stone and burrows in it the rest of their life. I thought about a creature so small, strong and patient that is willing to go through all that trouble to create a safe place. It creates a home, finds its own place and through that leaves a legacy that is a gateway to another world. They are like little pioneers breaking through a stone.


Quiet time and space here slows me down. I become more receptive. I take in the waves and the wind, textures of little seashells, shapes of seaweed on the sand that look like writings from an illuminated manuscript. 


I started slowly working. I was reminded that painting outside can place me into the landscape much quicker than walking or exploring can do. Observing my surroundings through a paintbrush is an effective way to get myself immersed in the place. 


I'll see what comes next. Do I stay hidden like a piddock clam or do I dare to break through?




During Saara's residency at Aras Eanna, she started some new work,


start of some new work and my picturebook being published and getting it translated into Irish.

Saara shared some final thoughts at the conclusion of her residency:


I went to paint by the lighthouse the other night. I often walk there in the sunset and try to catch the first flash of the beacon. My painting didn't really work. I walked back in the moonlight. I was surprised how well I could see in the dark. The night was warm. Someone was burning a fire. Sparkles in the dark. I stopped every once in a while. To listen. To breath. To look at the stars and the lighted windows of the houses on a hill.


I love these warm nights. Being in the center of the island, connected, hearing little rustling sounds all around me. And the waves breathing constantly, I feel safe.


I want to remember this simplicity. How is it that in Ireland I feel like I am inside myself? My inner processing extends around me. The stone walls define, and the roads carry my thoughts.


I can't even tell how deep and meaningful this month was for me. There was healing in the waves. Light pierced me. It happened so suddenly. Love went through all the walls I had so carefully built around my heart. My view started to shift from digging down to wanting to expand and grow outside more and become a shelter myself.


"It is in the shelter of each other that the people live." (Irish proverb)


One fantastic outcome from Saara's residency is that her picture book 'Vanha Torni', written and illustrated by her, will be translated into Irish. She also started some new work during her residency.



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