Everything smells of cigarettes

                       Everything smells of cigarettes

Solo exhibition in Sinne Gallery, Helsinki, 4.3 - 10.4 2022

And then, all of a sudden, you died.

At home, so you didn't have to go to another hospital. When I came to clean up afterwards, everything was like it had always been. Your stuff everywhere. I knew which were the more expensive objects and which were of Finnish design. Things you taught me. And now all of your stuff belonged to me and my siblings.

Oil colour and wall paint on jute, 116 x 110 cm, 2021

In the eighties there was money to be made buying and selling antiques. Somehow you and dad got mixed up in it and started working as buyers for rich Finnish antiques dealers. We had money, bought a terrace house and spent our summer vacations driving through Europe. Those were the good years. In the beginning of the nineties there was an economic crisis and that was the end of the antiques business for you. You worked part time in elderly care and dad full time as a mechanic. We didn't have as much money anymore but we had a lot of nice stuff at home that you had bought at the auctions. We were constantly reminded about the stuff, you never stopped talking about it. You thought that we should be happy that we got to grow up in such a beautiful home. But us kids weren´t beautiful and you didn't feel happy about us.

Oil colour and graphite pencil on jute, 150 x 156 cm, 2021

I have always liked touching stuff. Feeling how it feels. Coarse fabrics or cold metal. I wanted to touch you but wasn't allowed to. There was no tenderness in our family, no hugs or kisses. I wanted you to look at me the same way you looked at your stuff but you never did. It made me feel like there was something wrong with me. Like I was ugly and stupid, a nuisance. I still feel that way and I have done so many stupid things because I feel like I'm not worth anything.

Oil colour, wall colour and graphite pencil on jute, 169 x 179 cm, 2022

I didn't have any friends, I didn't know how to make any. And if I ever made any, what was I supposed to do for them to like me? Someone as bad as me? I started writing songs in the hope that someone might hear them and think that I wasn't so bad after all. Later I started buying really expensive clothes, thinking that maybe someone would take notice of me. But a terrible hunger took hold of me, one that would take me years to get rid of. It was a hunger for beautiful things, for owning them. That hunger could never be stilled and I had to steal to be able to afford it.

Oil colour and graphite pencil on jute, 115 x 86 cm, 2022

You had taken care of three kids while dad worked. Then you met someone new and said that now it was time for dad to take care of us. But dad got sad and drank himself senseless every day so we had to take care of ourselves. He used to get so drunk he couldn't open the front door and he'd often fall into the bushes, so I stayed up every night, waiting for him to get home. After I helped him get in bed I could go to sleep. Sure it was weird that you left us kids, but even weirder was the fact that you didn't take your stuff with you. Didn't you miss it? Were you so happy that you didn't need your stuff anymore?

Oil colour and graphite pencil on jute, 178 x 144 cm, 2022

You and your new boyfriend broke up and you moved back home. I was almost a grown up and had started making friends. They liked me the way I was but I didn't believe them. You drank every day. I think it was because you were so afraid. Of all the people in the world. There was something about them that you had to beware of. I learned that from you. I avoided people the best I could and I spent years at home hiding from them. Since you were always at home, your stuff got more important and you told us how expensive it was and I guess we heard you but we just didn't want to listen.

Oil colour and graphite pencil on jute, 188 x 189 cm, 2021

You loved telling us stories about your youth, the places you'd been and all the exciting people you'd met. But it was so hard to listen to all that. My brain kind of switched off and I got mad at you. Maybe it was because we were never in your stories of happier times. I never felt important and you made me feel like it was my fault that you weren't young and beautiful anymore. You accused me of being ashamed of my background when I started going into the city to hang out with my new friends. And sure I was ashamed, I mean, your life was so fucking boring. All you ever did was hang out in bars all day long with the other drunks. Until you got banned everywhere and your friends started avoiding you because you were such a mean drunk. So you drank at home and was mean to us instead.

Oil colour and graphite pencil on jute, 150 x 155 cm, 2021

There were so many things you and dad didn't teach us, some things I still haven't learned. There was a period when we didn't have any toilet paper at home because you two argued about who should buy it. When social services got me my own apartment I was assigned a social worker who, for years, visited me at home and taught me the stuff you hadn't. She taught me that I needed toilet paper and food and other stuff, like paying bills. She didn't teach me how to cry, I wouldn't do that until the day you died. For years I was in very bad shape, but then I started feeling better. I went to therapy, started eating meds, stopped being self-destructive and grew stronger, encouraged by the love of my friends. I finally understood that I was worth loving just the way I am. Although it was no thanks to you, I'm glad you got to witness me turning into the person I am today. I think you were proud of me, even though you never said.

Oil colour and graphite pencil on jute, 168 x 179 cm, 2022

In your final years you were in so much pain. You rarely left home because of that, but really it was mostly due to you feeling so ugly and not wanting anyone to see you. If there was anything you needed, we were often the ones who got it for you. You stopped drinking since there was no-one around to hide from anymore. We had such a good time together and that is how I want I to remember you. For me, that was when you were at your most beautiful.

It's a shame you didn't get to meet my daughter. Sometimes when I look at her, I think she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I wonder why you didn't think that I was beautiful.

I miss you.

Oil colour and graphite pencil on jute, 180 x 175 cm, 2021