Monday, January 18, 2010

Trip to Tallinn, Estonia

In the first week of January a friend from California came to visit and we made the ferry trip to Tallinn, Estonia. It happened to be the same week that the BBC was declaring "the cold snap of the century" across Europe. We stayed in Tallinn's Old Town, most of which was built in the 13th through 16th centuries. A hotel staff-person mentioned that we were visiting during the week of Russian Orthodox Christmas, and that the Old Town was full of visiting Russians. This indeed seemed to be the case, and in spite of the bitter cold there was a very festive atmosphere in this jewel-like medieval city.

On the second day we left the walled Old Town and ventured into the Kadriorg district, with its 18th century Russian palaces and parks, to go to the Kumu contemporary art museum. One piece at the Kumu that was particularly brilliant was Villu Jaanisoo's regimented assembly of about one hundred and fifty sculpted busts by as many different artists--mostly from the Baltic region, I believe. Unfortunately I saw neither the title of the piece, nor any information about it. I was already familiar with Jaanisoo's work because of a bit of prior web research-- he happens to teach at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, and I've been hoping to meet him at some point during my stay in Finland. Oh, I see the Academy has an available five-year position for a professor in Site and Situation Specific Arts... any of my friends interested in applying?

Anyway, here are some pictures from my trip to Tallinn.

Ice seen from the ferry.

Another Tallink ferry, seen from my ferry.

One of many noteworthy house facades in the Old City of Tallin.

More facades, and icicles.

These windows reminded me of Christopher Alexander's discussions of "pattern language."

As did the carving on this door.

Elegantly patterned wrought-iron gate-- this may have been an ambassador's gated complex, I'm afraid I'm not clear on this!

The Christmas Market, (named the best in all of Europe,) lasted until January 7th. Hot mulled wine (glogi) and hand-knitted sweaters and mittens were in ample supply.

Evening in the Old City. Cold, and the snow was really pelting us.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral at night, busy during Russian Orthodox Christmas week.

Me, freezing, on Toompea Hill, with a view of the towers of the city wall.

Kumu Art Museum

Villu Jaanisoo's installation.

One head made of concrete.

Bust of a child, in plaster.

Waiting at the Tallinn ferry terminal for the ferry back to Helsinki.

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