Alla kan vara
konstnär - jordnära konst med den holländska konstnären och läraren Jan
Naturum Getterön, Varberg, Sweden
Vi ta lera - den fuktiga, degiga substans som ligger under våra fötter
- i våra händer. Få din naturliga kreativitet till ljus och ge form till
organiska former som uttrycker dynamiska naturliga processer av groning,
tillväxt och förfall. Du behöver inte vara en konstnär eller har affinitet
till de traditionella sätten att skapa konst för att njuta av denna dag.
På förmiddagen riktar sig workshopen till barn och deras föräldrar, under
eftermiddagen är workshopen bara för vuxna.
Transformations of organic forms in Nature workshop
Workshop at Naturum Getterön along the coast of West Sweden - in the
morning with children, and in the afternoon with adults. Three stages of
growth or decay and the fourth form connecting to the second sequence
further down the circular chain. Participants move from time to time some
steps along the circle, and mould a ball of clay adjacent to the organic
form someone else made just a moment ago, taking the growth or decay
process a step further. I learned this, in slightly different form, at
Schumacher College, from Antony Gormley. The images in the centre are from
the 19th century: photographs by Karl Blossfeldt and drawings by Ernst
8 June, 2013
Earth Art, Earth
National Park Kennemerduinen, Netherlands
Boeckel (with Li An Phoa and Sarah Denie of Spring College)
‘The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to
grow sharper’ – Eden Phillpotts (English playwright), 1919
What happens when we seek to connect with the living world – not through
pre-established scientific knowledge, but through an open-ended artful
process? During this experiential course artist and teacher Jan van
Boeckel joined Spring College. Together with Li An Phoa and Sarah Denie, he
invited participants to explore the relationship of Art with Earth,
through an open processes of creation. Jan invited the participants to
engage with the living world and the moist, pasty substance that was below
their feet and now in their hands: clay. Working the clay, they used their
imagination to give shape to organic forms, expressing dynamic natural
processes of germination, growth and decay.
beginning of the session, participants lay down in a circle and study the
coverage of foliage above them. Silence and bird song, shade and light...
The idea is that each participant starts at a certain clay ball, with
three clay balls in-between her/him and the next participant. The
participant starts to make an organic form there, expressive of a stage in
growth or decay. The other participants do the same. After completing the
form, the participants move along the circle, clockwise, and each moves to
where someone else made a clay form, picks it up and attends to it
carefully, and makes a new organic form, which takes the form that was
left as starting point but develops it further. A new metamorphosed form
comes into being. This rotating continues until all the clay balls have
been moulded to sequential organic forms. When this is completed. From
this we have a common dialogue about what people experienced and what they
witness, observe, in the results.
One of us chose to make as a first form an object that expresses the open
sky in between the tall trees above - the blue air between the dark
silhouettes of the trees...
form that was expressive of the open space above, between the trees - the
one on the far right - metamorphoses into a form in which the clay bits
are the contours of an open space in-between, as each following
participant continues the sequence. (The whole session is done in
nature centre, we look at the incredible photos of Karl Blossfeldt (made
in the 1920's!) and look at seeds through magnifiers.
During the Earth walk
after a long hike (Earth Walk) with Li An Phoa as our guide, we gather in
an open field and work with found natural forms. Using color pencils and
crayons, we combine the seeds or leaves we picked up and try to depict
them enormously magnified, and combined with motives of the
black-and-white images of Blossfeldt.
"Out from the classroom" course on Seili Island, and
exhibition Seven Shores at Aalto Arts Gallery
Mari von Boehm, teacher in Aalto arts, art teacher education program
The Out from the classroom course was organized for the fourth
time. The subject of the course is to study different approaches to art
teaching outside the school environment by setting up a camp school
together with the students. Every time it has led us to beautiful islands,
in Finland and in Estonia.
In the Out from the classroom course, the efforts of the students have a
great impact on the progress of the course and the teacher must try to
keep herself in a minor role. This year's course started in March 2012
with planning the preparing period; the participants suggested or agreed
on my suggestions for visits and visitors, presented their favourite
subject in the field of art outside the classroom by gathering information
from the Internet, and finally chose the place for art camp together.
visitor was Anu Kuivalainen, film director. She presented and showed her
new, artistically impressive documentary film about the marine research
vessel Aranda. We discussed the borders of art and documenting. Then Erich
Berger from the Finnish Bioart-society enlightened us about biological
art. We also visited Harakka Island outside Helsinki and met with Kaisa
Pajanen from the nature house. She introduced holistic environmental
education with fairy tale adventures for children, and experimental
exhibitions, where artists and art educators together with experts from
other fields have worked together in realizing them. Some meetings were
focused on the planning of the intensive camp.
Ella Eiranto: from the series "Island nightmares"
The selected place for the camp was Seili - called the "Island of the
doomed", in the Finnish archipelago. Starting from the 17th century there
had been a leprosy and mental hospital. No doctor worked on the island.
Living circumstances were harsh and the only "cure" was the spiritual one
in the church. Patients came to the island knowing there was no return
home. They had to have a sum of money for the living and planks for the
coffin. During the 18th the leprosy patients became fewer and finally
Seili hospital accommodated mainly mentally ill persons. The church from
1733 is still standing, and the impressive plain classical hospital stone
buildings are from the beginning of 19th century. The main building is
from 1851. The last decades before closing the hospital in 1962, the
patients were mentally disturbed women.
We sailed to Seili from Turku by a beautiful traditional boat, Storbåt
Aura. In the harbour before leaving we had a chance to meet artist and art
teacher Pive Toivonen, who inspired us by telling about her island studies
through art. On Seili we had good time to concentrate on the working and
discussions. We lodged in the old hospital buildings, nowadays run by
Turku University research centre and ate many times a day the delicacies
in their canteen. This was different of many of the previous Out from the
classroom courses, where we have prepared the food ourselves and lived in
Left on the wall Anni Toivonen's photographs about dark mindscapes, in
the middle Maria Lindfors' stranded ceramic boats and on the window
Mari von Boehm's installation Lost at sea.
Left Ilmari Arnkil's one of the two video works, with quickened
landscapes and extremely slowed down sound in the earphones. On the
floor Saara Kähönen's photo installation about characteristic details
of the island. On the wall syanotypia works of an installation on the
island by Mari von Boehm.
In our exhibition we present "Seven shores", approaches, which were
important to us on the five days camp on Seili Island. Our themes were
BORDERS, UTOPIA, FEARS AND WISHES, COMPREHENSION, SCALE AND COGNITION,
MEMORY. On Seili Island the students presented introductions to the themes
of each day, worked with their own artistic project and discussed about
existential issues from the art pedagogical point of view. Pedagogical
aspects were present in everything; the introductions contained guided
working schemes for the rest of the group.
The exhibition seems to have a common, dark but not depressive tone. The
works support each other in a deep accepting way. The characteristics of
the history of Seili are visible in almost everything; experiencing time,
stranded boats, sailors lost at sea, profound views to nature, island
nightmares... It is great to see how skilful the students are, and how
wonderfully the discussions have became alive again in their independent
March 8-26, 2012
Course An Ecology of Mind - Bateson and the Arts
Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
For the major part of March, Jan van Boeckel taught the course An
Ecology of Mind, Bateson and the Arts to a group of students at Aalto
University in the fields of architecture, art education and fine arts.
At the first session, Nora Bateson, the youngest daughter of Gregory
Bateson, was present too. The same evening she showed her film An
Ecology of Mind in the Media Factory of Aalto University.
Nora Bateson in discussion with Finnish students.
Nora Bateson and Jan van
Comments from students:
"The ecologic approach to art attracted me to attend the course. I also
wanted to deepen my knowledge of ecology and the relations between art and
science. The course met my expectations; it really focused on Bateson’s
thinking and at the same time put it into larger context.
The films were great! It was amazing to have Nora there with us in the
first session. The course works well and I really hope there is
possibility to arrange it again. Maybe it would be nice to have examples
of some art pieces and to discuss them in the context of Bateson’s
thinking. It could be offered to bioart students from department of
art.Thank you for the course! It really gave me new perspectives to think
"What attracted you to attending
this course was its interesting name: Ecology of Mind. I was also
attracted by Bateson’s philosophy that deals with questions that are
fundamental for the artmaking and art education, such as meta-patterns,
beauty, ethics and aesthetics, the relationships between the science and
art, human and environment, culture and nature, systems theory,
transdiciplinary learning, etc. I expected much and got out more than I
expected in a such a short period of time.
The teaching was very appropriate, holistic and high standard. The
discussions were interesting and the atmosphere in the class was open for
a dialogue and discussions. There could have been more contributions from
us, the students. Perhaps the group could have been bigger and more
diverse: ecologists, antropologists, environmental scientists...
Once the key concepts were opened the reading was not that difficult.
It was unforgettable to have Nora Bateson opening the first course
session. The film was great opening to the topic as well. Nora and the
film brought Bateson as a person closer to us and clarified some of the
very complex ideas and concepts. The learning process became more intimate
and personal since we had ”met” Gregory through Nora and the film. Really
an amazing and unique oportunity.
A huge thank you for the moving and inspiring course. Hope there will be
many more to come."
Image from a workshop, entitled The
Pattern That Connects. Heli Mäkinen co-organized this small symposium
in June 2012, inspired by Bateson's work. Scientists, artists, poets and
others engaged with the issue of Truth in the landscapes of mind
Art Education as if the
Environment Matters Rubin Museum of Art, New York
February 2012, Pirkko Pohjakallio and Jan van Boeckel of the research
group on arts-based environmental education presented at the speak out
session at the event "Earth Education: Art Education as if the Environment
Matters," in New York City. The venue was the Education Center at the
Rubin Museum of Art.
2, 2012, Pirkko Pohjakallio and Jan van Boeckel both gave a lecture a the so-called SPEAK OUT
SESSION of the National Art Education Assocation, on "Environmentally
Aware and Ecologically Activist Art Education."
The event, in the Sheraton Metropolitan Ballroom, was hosted by Tom
Anderson and Peter London. An international panel of researchers and
teachers from the United States, Canada, and Finland spoke about how they
connect teaching, learning, and research centered on environmentally aware
and ecologically activist art education. The panelists are engaged in
global initiatives that aim to promote environmental education at all
levels through the arts. Website NAEA
15 November 2011
Lecture at Shorelines symposium
15th of November, Jan van Boeckel presented a lecture as part of the
Shorelines Symposium on Place, Creativity and Wellbeing
Organisers were University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, and South Ayrshire
Council Museums and Galleries, with the University of the West of
Scotland. This one day international academic symposium was held at the
Maclaurin Galleries, Ayr, Scotland, Keynote Speakers were Dr. Ian
McGilchrist BM, MA, FRCPsych author of The Master and his Emissary: The
Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, and Chris Drury,
The Symposium explored interconnections between creative spaces or
locations and physical and emotional wellbeing. It brought together a
multidisciplinary audience of researchers, academics and arts
practitioners to present cutting edge research in their fields, fostering
discussion and further understanding about the significance of place in
the creative process and its potential to enhance the quality of human
Friday 18 November, Jan van Boeckel facilitated a morning-long
workshop with some of the staff and students of ASN, the Art, Space
+ Nature Program in Edinburgh, at the Edinburgh College of Art in
Publication and defence of
Aalto University, Helsinki
11 November 2011, Leena Valkeapää defended her PhD thesis entitled
Luonnossa, vuoropuhelua Nils-Aslak Valkeapään tuotannon kanssa
("In nature - conducting a dialogue with the works of Nils-Aslak
this is my home / these fjords rivers lakes / this cold this
sunshine these storms” (Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, 1979)
Wind, reindeer, time, fire, people – the people living with reindeer
in nature still have a straightforward relationship with the basic
elements of life. Leena Valkeapää’s dissertation is a study aiming
to develop artistic thinking in which the focus is on the way of
life and the way of being in north-western Lapland which are both
intertwined with nature.
In her dissertation, Leena Valkeapää goes beyond the traditional
anthropological approach by engaging in a dialogue with Nils-Aslak
Valkeapää's poetic, academic and literary portrayals of the Sami way
of life and her own feelings. Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, Àillohaš
(1943-2001) was a Sami artist working in a broad range of fields and
he is probably best known in Finland as the creator and performer of
the new yoik. He also published eight collections of poems two of
which have been translated into Finnish.
In the dissertation, the dialogue intensifies as text messages of
Oula A. Valkeapää, the husband of Leena Valkeapää, and excerpts from
the work Kertomus saamelaisista (A portrayal of the Sami people) by
Johan Turi, a member of the Swedish Sami community, are shown side
by side with Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s poetry. Turi’s work was first
published in 1910 as Muitalus sámiid birra and it was translated
into Finnish in 1979. The dialogue involving three different
narrators reveals common experiences, which each of the three
describe using their own background as a basis. All three are
members of the Sami people. In her study, Leena Valkeapää calls the
way of life and the cultural traditions common to them reindeer
life. The core of Leena Valkeapää’s dissertation is the dialogue
relationship in which Oula A. Valkeapää’s thinking and her own
thinking create a state of discussion.
Leena Valkeapää is an environmental artist. Her work includes a
large number of exhibitions (both group exhibitions and exhibitions
displaying her own works only), environmental projects and
environmental works of art. The best known of her works of art is
“Jäähuntu” (Icy Veil; 1999) at the rock cutting of Helsinginkatu in
Turku. In addition to her artistic activities, Leena Valkeapää has
also worked as a teacher of environmental art in a number of
educational institutions. Between 2005 and 2010, she worked as a
teacher of environmental education at the Department of Art of the
University of Art and Design Helsinki. Leena Valkeapää’s dissertation (in Finnish) is published by Maahenki
in the publication series of the Aalto University School of Art and
Design. Orders: TaiK Publications, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, online
14-15 April 2011
Lecture on Art
and Transition (Konst och omställning)
invitation of Högskolan i Gävle and Konstcentrum Gävle, Jan van Boeckel
presented a lecture at Gävle art centre and workshops with students in
horticultural design of Wij Trädgårdar.
some images of the workshop.
26 February 2011
Change towards a Green Europe
Ceciel Verheij, Jan van Boeckel presented three workshops at this conference:
The making of a group painting to improvised music, clay metamorphosis of
organic forms, and making of a mini version of the self in clay.
one of the participants of the Environmental Art Workshop in Freiburg. I just
would like to tell you that I enjoyed it so much. From the first minute I knew
that this will not be a workshop but something that is considered a
beautiful act (if I may borrow Immanuel
Kant's term). We acted with our inclinations and got in touch with our inner
self. It was so evident in the way we expressed ourselves through art. You have
planted in us the seed to appreciate the world we live in. It is only a matter
of nurturing and propagating this seed to benefit a greater number of people. I
dare say, that through this workshop, we have achieved the essence of 'inspiring
change towards a green economy'."
Rowena Zapanta, a SPRING Participant/DAAD Scholar from the Philippines
Organizers Brindusa Ana-M Birhala and Sophia
Carodenuto, in front of the painting, which is on permanent display now in the
university. Under it is a a plaquette with the text: "The painting is the
product of an environmental art workshop with the Freiburg Forum on
Environmental Governance. ...The participants went thorugh a process of making a
group painting accompanied by improvised life music. Each participant from a
group of 26 contributed to the painting using organic acrylic colors, inspired
by the natural surroundings of the Herderbau."
24-25 February 2011
Kunst og Økologi / Art and
Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo, Fakultetet for
At this seminar on Art and Ecology
that took place at at the National Academy of the Arts in Oslo, Jan van Boeckel gave a
presentation and facilitated a workshop with clay. His theme was the relationship between the self, the used materials and
the environment in arts-based environmental education. During the workshop, the
participants modeled one of their hands in clay with the eyes closed. At the
final moment the clay fingers were taken up so that the fingertips would meet
each other in a circle, still with closed eyes.
From the flyer: "Økologien og dens problemstillinger kan knyttes til personlige, sosiale såvel
som materielle praksiser - seminaret vil ta opp ulike forhold mellom kunst og
økologi som berører disse tre feltene. Forskjellige forelesere/kunstnere vil
bruke sin produksjon og erfaring som
utgangspunkt for videre diskusjoner."
Researching Art and
Doli, Peleponnes, Greece
The aim of this
week was to explore the field of art and science – a field all of the
participants are engaged in, in one way or the other. There are three layers
which, for the sake of overview, might be defined separately; art, research and
teaching and learning. In a phenomenological sense we could start the
reflections on these by doing them, that is by actually practicing art, science
and teaching/learning. Further, for this workshop week we found it useful to
establish "art as practice" as the point of departure for moving into research,
moving into teaching and learning.
One approach we practiced was working with "art as practice" as "a layer of
return," grounding the discussions and reflections in common artistic work and
exercises throughout the week. Topics in this field were:
creativity: Are these “one and the same thing”? Or is artistic creativity
Is the skill
of creativity transferable? Can the practice of creativity in art
classes/exercises lead to creativity in for example science education?
research or research on art: What are the differences, the commonalities?
Has art a
value in itself or a means for research or teachers? Of course art has a value
of its own! But what happens when it is used in research, in teaching and
learning? Or: How to avoid that art is reduced to mere means?
of the art/science concepts: Is there a need to establish new concepts by
deconstructing the old ones? How to research the field where there is no
separation between art and science?
the mind and its relation to art: Can art promote thinking, and/or is art a
form of thinking?
The aim of the
week was to employ our own experiences in this field. The focus was on how and
what we have experienced in this field rather than our (rational) thoughts about
the correct blend of art and science – and the correct definitions.
report has been prepared on the whole seminar, which can be
10 October 2010
Wildpainting the autumn
colors in Nuuksio national park on 10 October
Nuuksio, Espoo, Finland
On Sunday, October 10, 2010, we travelled with eight people to Nuuksio National
Park, we we spent the afternoon making paintings with acrylic paint, using the
colours in surprising new ways, in an effort to "see with fresh eyes."
Blooming Flowers Art and Botany course
Engeløya, 6-12 July, 2010
with biology teacher Linda Jolly and art teacher Solveig Slåttli,Jan van Boeckel presented the 7 day course "Wilderness and Blooming
Flowers" on the island of Engeløya, close to the Lofoten archipelago in
with art education students from Aalto University, doctorate researcher
Mari von Boehm and Professor Pirkko Pohjakallio organized a well-attended
workshop and exhibition on environmental art education on the INSEA
conference in Rovaniemi, Finland.
the InSEA congress had a quite exotic timing together with the
geographical location: Rovaniemi was lit in the midsummer-night’s sun. The
theme of the congress was Sustainable Art Education, which is recognized
internationally to be somewhat characteristic to the Finnish art education
scene. The first InSEA congress with that theme was also in Finland,
already in 1971. Today this field is evermore current, in the time of
common environmental concern.
The Department of Art Education was invited to make an exhibition about
the roots and history of arts-based environmental education. Professor
Pirkko Pohjakallio collected a group of students: Elissa Eriksson, Elias
Saura, and Juho Hellsten are preparing their final master's thesis and Mari von Boehm
has started her doctoral research on the arts-based
New Image of the Earth
The name of the exhibition is referring to a book Image of the Earth
by Meri-Helga Mantere. It contains articles about Finnish arts-based
environmental education. The book was published already more than a decade
ago, so it was time to see where we had come in this field in 2010, when
the InSEA congress again had sustainable art education as its theme.
as a metaphor for Finnish arts-based environmental education
We wanted to make the exhibition visually interesting and to use both
archive material (pictures, photographs, curricula, etc.) and make our own
visual interpretation of the different paradigms on the theme. One of the
interesting materials we had was pictures from a competition for school
pupils on the theme of forest. Forest is an important metaphor in Finnish
language and identity. Forest, "erämaa", means a place where you get your
living from. The proverb "you cannot see the forest for the trees" means
that you cannot see the bigger picture if you concentrate only in details.
Something can go "to the forest" or one can "ram into a pine" – to get
lost, to fail. "The forest answers in the same way you call." "Who reaches
the spruce falls into the juniper" – you have your hopes too high. "Listen
to the spruce, whose roots your home stands on."
stereotype art teachers approaching the environmental themes Roots – that is what we are interested in. From the roots of
Finnish arts-based environmental education, we built four overplayed
stereotypes of art teachers. They represent different
paradigms in art education approaching environmental themes. The paradigms
are not so distinct as they appear, as they often overlap, intertwine, and sometimes use each
other's methods. The different paradigms are emphasized during different
decades but also appear during the same years, and even vary in the same
In the exhibition our art teachers were standing tintamaresques, plates
where you can step behind, see the small archive pictures and read some
keywords about that paradigm, and stick your head through the empty hole. Your
companions can see your face on the painted picture on the front side.
This is how the plates were constructed:
The art teacher is standing in the stencil city with her camera. The
visual messages are everywhere; commercial pictures, photographs, signs,
buildings, objects etc. Coloured everyday pictures flow in the sky.
Ethnographic methods are used – the teacher is inspiring pupils to see
what cultural messages you can read from the environment, especially the urban
environment. How a space becomes a place, what it tells about our history,
about everyday aesthetics? The goal for art education is to train a critical eye
for our habitat, and to learn to design and create a better environment.
Values – CARE for nature
The art teacher is standing in the crowd, participating in a demonstration,
as he is socially and politically active. The visual signs call for
change. Posters point out what we want or don't want. Performance can also
make our will visible. Artistic methods are serving idealistic purposes: a
sustainable way of life; peace education; protecting nature, human or
animal rights. The goal for art education is to teach how to influence our
own environment with our powerful visual tools.
Relationship with nature through SENSES
The teacher can be nature herself. Nature stimulates imagination. The art
teacher puts his or her trust in experiential learning and the teaching can go out
the classroom. The pupils are encouraged to open their senses by artistic
practices, which can be almost anything from drawing and building out of
natural materials to making conceptual art. Through these practices it is
hoped that the pupils
recognize and study their own relationship with the
surrounding environment, especially nature. The artistic result is less
important when the art teacher wants to work for holistic well-being and
embodiment. The goal for art education is to emotionally involve pupils in
nature and to develop the ability to see the traces we leave in it.
Environment in ART – ART in environment
The art teacher is carrying a golden frame in the forest. In his or her view the
environment is material for art – interpreted by traditional techniques or
conceptual art. He or she wishes the students to see the aesthetic values in
nature and also art as part of our environment. The teacher affirms that art is
something sublime that we can highlight from our environment and culture
with artist's eye. The goal for art education is to train the pupils'
artistic view to see and express aesthetic or conceptual qualities in the
The "new Image of the earth" workshop
In the workshop we invited participants to see the paradigms we suggested
in the exhibition. First we introduced each art teacher stereotype, giving
a short speech by playing the character with our heads in the
tintamaresque holes. We also pointed out that this was a rough
generalization, and told that we were interested in their own view: was
there some view missing in our suggestion for paradigms, was there
something too unclear or some cultural differences as our participants
presented different nationalities?
We had asked the participants to bring pictures from their own work in the
field of art education. The participants were divided in groups and asked
to discuss about the four art teachers' views by getting familiar with the
keywords and visual material on the backside of the plates. They also
compared, with our help, their own thoughts and pictures to the presented ones. After giving attention to each of the characters we asked them to
choose their place in the space according to which character's view to art
education was closest to their own.
After that, we gave each group one tree stalk and asked them to
present the results of their discussions by using the tree and given art
materials for their statement. We got four different conceptual statements
about our theme, and they were presented shortly in the end of the
workshop. We thought that most important were the discussions while they
were making their works. These statements did not really question our
division, but evoked discussion about personal experiences of the
participants and the feelings they had towards the given material, especially the
leafless tree stalks we had provided. Many of our participants felt
sympathy for the dead tree in the sterile classroom, and some of them
wanted to take the tree stalk back to its own environment.
Thoughts about the project
For my own research, this exhibition project was very inspiring. We found
much interesting material in the archives of the department of art
education that will be of great importance later in my research. In many
instances we found it quite problematic to classify materials
appropriately in our self-constructed division of paradigms. It still
needs further work and clarification, but this is a good start. I hope we can now
present the tintamaresques again at the University of Art and Design
Helsinki. Mari von Boehm
'The point of no return'
United Kingdom, 8 June 2010
One of the
characteristics of arts-based environmental education is that it
encourages participants to be receptive to nature in new and uncommon
ways. To approach the world afresh through art, to look at a plant, an
animal or even a landscape as if we see it for the first time in our life.
In this, the participant is encouraged to immerse him or herself in
nature, to seek a 'deep identification' (Arne Naess).
In this presentation, Jan van Boeckel explored if there could be cases
where such immersion may reach – or even go beyond – a point of return. A
point, where the 'intertwining' with nature causes the subject to sever
the 'life lines' to the world which would enable him or her to maintain
the psychological, cultural and spiritual integrity of the ego. The
dissolving of the ego’s boundaries through artistic practice can be seen
as having certain shamanistic qualities, specifically in case when this
transgression involves efforts to connect with other animal species such
as Joseph Beuys famous studio encounter with a coyote in his performance
I Like America and America Likes Me (1974). Such undertakings may
constitute – at least in the perception of the shaman-artist – a form of
'going native', becoming 'one' with the non-human Others.
As a case history, Van Boeckel discussed the 'trespassing' from the world
of culture to the world of nature by Timothy Treadwell, entering the
ecosphere and live world of the grizzly bears in Alaska, for which he
ultimately paid the price of the death (the tragic story was documented by
Werner Herzog in his film Grizzly Man, 2005). Jan van Boeckel
analyzed the phenomenon along the distinction between Apollonian versus
Dionysian sensibility in cultural activity as articulated by, among
others, Nietzsche and Robert J. Pirsig, and see it as an 'unchecked'
Dionysian immersion in the ecstatic.
Finally he tried to formulate some pedagogical implications for teachers
and facilitators encouraging an attitude of radical amazement and
vulnerability in arts-based environmental education.
Children and Nature: Rediscovering a sense of
Schumacher College, United Kingdom,
31 May – 4 June 2010
During this one week course with teachers Richard Louv, Kathy Louv and Jan
van Boeckel, the participants looked at why nature is important for
children’s development and creativity, and how the “nature gap” can
be bridged. It included outdoor arts-based workshops and experiential
exercises which can be used in environmental education contexts.
The course is intended for: teachers at all levels, environmental
educators, childcare and family services professionals, and parents.
Other teachers: Richard Louv is a journalist and international recognised expert on
the connection between family, nature and community. His book “Last Child
in the Woods” has stimulated a global debate about the relationship
between children and nature. He is the chairman and co-founder of the
Children & Nature Network. Kathy Louv is a nurse practitioner whose current
interest focuses on the relationship between physical exercise,
health and brain development.
Nuuksio national park
Espoo, 18 April, 2010
A full day
workshop organized through The Public School Helsinki, in the early spring
landscape of a lakeshore in a northern forest. The workshop was
facilitated by Jan van Boeckel.
Together with Mikael Malmaeus and Gunilla Kindstrand, Jan van Boeckel
one of the keynote speakers at this seminarium about different
perspectives on ecological sustainability and the role of art in
environmental engagement. The day ended with a discussion about ideas for
establishing an ecological art centre at Ockelbo.
Smiling birches, weeping firs: Making contact with a tree through art
Oslo, 20 September, 2009, in the
forest outside Soria Moria conference centre
September 2009 the conference "Ecology and Forests for Public Health" of
Nature-Culture-Health International took place. Its aim was to focus on
environmental, climatic and cultural changes that threaten the public’s
health today, and to analyze the importance of forests for people on
our planet. One of the presentations was by Jan van Boeckel. His theme was
"Connecting through art with trees." He discussed arts-based ways to
connect to nature, and he took as point of departure a eco-phenomenologically inspired
orientation. Part of this was the notion that a tree may " reveal" its being more fully to
one who tries to increase his or her receptivity to its expressions. His presentation had as its
motto, a line of painter Paul Cézanne: "The landscape thinks itself in
me, and I am its consciousness."
Jan tried to compare this sensibility and state of mindfulness to the way
people in traditional indigenous cultures seem to relate to the land, and,
more specifically, to the forest, and discuss the challenges of
reconnecting to the tree when we try to do this whilst living in and being
part of a "disenchanted" (post)modern world.
The talk included the making of a painting of a fir tree – or, if one
wills, allowing the tree to express herself through the painting.
The title of the session ("Smiling birches, weeping firs") was inspired on
the chapter "From the opaque to the concrete: The poetic side of Arne
Naess," by David Rothenberg, in his book Always the mountains.
Wildpainting summer art
courses in the Norwegian fjords
At Jølster, 6-10 July, 2009 and at Skarstein gård, Kandal, 27-31 July,
At these painting courses,
which were taught by Jan van Boeckel, participants drew and painted the
rough and breathtaking landscape along the steep slopes of Fjord-Norway.
WILDPAINTING means two things: to paint wilderness and wild
landscapes, and to paint in a different, surprising way. The aim was to
open up to the aesthetics and the energies of the landscape through trying
to see (and smell, know etc.) as if one perceives it for the first time.
It meant basically to dare to draw and paint in quite a different way than
we are accustomed to: leaves don't always have to be green and the sky not
eternally blue. Instead the participants tried to observe afresh, deeper
and deeper, letting the motive come to them as they experienced it there
and then. In that way, the artistic process became something between
meditation and perceiving the world in the way a child does. We used
acrylic paints and heavy paper, charcoal and pencils.
The courses lasted five hours each day, for five days with regular breaks
for tea and coffee, for lunch, or for taking some time to talk about what
had happened to that point. Every participant got also personal comments
and advice from the course facilitator.
There was no demand of having prior artistic skills. What was needed was
the enthusiasm to participate and a desire to learn something new, and to
dare to participate in this process. The inspiration to the Wildpainting
courses comes from painter Paul Cézanne, who wrote: "The landscape thinks
itself in me, and I am its consciousness."
From 19 until 29 April 2009,
the Wind and Water expedition took place on the schooner Helena, from Kiel
- via Gotland - to Uusikaupunki
Norden intensive course entailed a distant learning period (17-31 March
2009); a sailing and working period (19-29 April 2009); and a period for
preparation of a temporary exhibition and evaluation (30 April - 3 May
2009). Participation on the course required taking part in all three parts
of the course.
The participants were students from Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden,
at EDDA Norden institutions that offer teacher training in art, media and
design. Teachers were Mari von Boehm and Jan van Boeckel of
the TaiK Research group on arts-based environmental education.
The core of the course was the voyage on the sailing vessel through the
seas that are connecting us, the Nordic and Baltic people. The schooner
Helena sailed from Kiel – via Gotland – to Uusikaupunki (Finland).
the course the participants investigated the ways in which art can be of
added value in the context of environmental education on marine ecosystems
and climate change. The participants travelled the natural slow way by
wind-power, and concentrated on the basic experience and appreciation of
the small size of humans in the whole, on engagement with the environment,
and on what the preconditions are for creating art in extraordinary
It was the first time that it is carried out on this basis and with this
structure as a pan-Nordic project. It built further upon the established
tradition within EDDA Norden of using nature as a resource in art
education (Snow and Ice Sculpting at Laino Snow Village, Finland, in 2007;
and the Light and Fire workshop in Notodden, Norway, in 2008).
course: Arts in environmental education (4 ECTS)
This class was practice-based and self-directed. It intended to introduce
participants to the potential role and existing field of using art in
increasing ecological awareness. There was only guidance by the tutor (Jan
van Boeckel, PhD candidate, Dept of Art Education) and supervisor.
Students had to take responsibility for their own desired learning. The
course was further monitored by Professor Pirkko Pohjakallio.
Central to this course was the triangle of art education, nature education
and pedagogical science. In the context of the education, we asked what
the benefits are of looking with an artist’s gaze at environmental or
outdoor education, and of looking with an environmental educators’ gaze at
the possible benefits of engaging art in the context of environmental
Participants were expected to read a reader and selected works from the
reading list. Every participant was required to write an essay of 6 to 8
pages on a subject relevant to the theme of the course.
* The work further consisted of practice exercises, resulting in an open
* The course startedwith putting together a personal statement of one
* Participants developed their ownteaching module based on previous
examples. (Example: Chosing of 1 place and 3 tasks with different
* Participants performed planned activities, including methods of
reflection (feedback from everyone involved), and conducted research on
the field, resulting in one written essay on a related issue based on
articles, lectures, books, films, interviews, etc.
"Opening the senses to the more-than-human-world: the role of art"
Arts Seminar at Media Lab, Thursday, April 2, 2009, 17:00-19:00, 4th floor
In his lecture, doctorate student Jan van Boeckel talked about the
research theme that he has taken up at TaiK's School of Art Education. In
short, Jan is interested in how education about nature would look like if
it starts from an artistic process-oriented perspective. Usually
environmental education is founded on the premise that pre-established
scientific knowledge is handed down from teacher to student.
Jan will present his lecture in such his way that it resonates as fully as
possible with the open ended quality and rhizome-like character of his
research project. The aim is that its form will not be too different from
the content, and the medium in accord with the message.. Therefore the
listeners to the lecture will be encouraged to be active participants in a
co-creating dialogue on the interface of art and nature education.
A short film, accompanying Jan van Boeckel's lecture will be shown on
Friday April, 3, at 15:00, in the 3d floor meeting room at Media Lab:
The Betrayal by Technology: A Portrait of Jacques Ellul
"Technology forces us to go faster and faster. One does not know where one
goes. The only thing that matters is the speed." French philosopher
Jacques Ellul has analyzed modern Western society on basis of the premise
that technology has become an autonomous, all-determining factor.
In 1950, Ellul finished his manuscript La Technique ou l'enjeu du siecle
(The Technological Society), his seminal analysis of the way technology
shapes every aspect of society. As contemporary thinker, he was strongly
influenced by Kierkegaard, Marx and Barth. After a life, in which he wrote
close to fifty books, Ellul died in the summer of 1994, at the age of 82.
The team of ReRun Producties visited Ellul in 1990. During five subsequent
days, long interview sessions were held with him in his old mansion in
Pessac. The Betrayal by Technology is one of the very few existing filmed
recordings of Jacques Ellul speaking.
ReRun Producties: Karin van der Molen, Pat van Boeckel, Jan van Boeckel,
Dr. Lily Diaz, Professor, Systems of Representation
& Digital Cultural Heritage, University of Art and Design Helsinki
135C Hämeentie SF 00560. Helsinki, Finland
'Art Outside of
Weeklong workshop with art education students on the
island of Nötö in the Finnish archipelago (May 2008), followed by an
exhibiton at the Art Pedagogy Department of the University of Art and
Design Helsinki in September 2008.
2008, Mari von Boehm did a workshop with Master students in art
education on the Finnish island of Nötö. This workshop could be regarded
as the establishment of a temporary environmental research station,
based on art. The idea was that the participants would be doing
their own arts-based research on the island,
choosing one point of view and one method on forehand, with which they
would work during a week. This could of course change when they would
actually see what the place was like. It was in a way similar to other
field research, which takes place within a pre-established framework, with
the idea to work further with the results.
Painting improvisation rotating circle at river Simoa in Norway
Kunstnerdalen. Sigdal, Norway, 14 October 2008
As part of
the conference "How to Cope in a Changing World? - Environment, Culture
and Health in Transition", Jan van Boeckel organized a
improvisation painting workshop. Moving from one conference venue to the
next, the participants joined in a one hour surprise event on a Sunday
late afternoon at the river Simoa.
They gathered in a circle on the river bank, amidst the beautiful autumn
colors and the setting sun. Every conference participant was divided in a
group: "air", "water", "earth" and "fire".
As part of
the three day conference "New energy in old landscapes" at Wij Trädgårdar
in Ockelbo, Sweden, Jan van Boeckel presented a workshop "När vi
formar landskapet: Färgar i landskapet". 40 participants painted an
agricultural landscape in different colours than usual. The worked in
groups of ten, one group following up after the other had left. The
painting easels remained and the newcomers had to continue on the painting
as it was left by the previous participant. At the start, each group of
ten was devided in a "wrong colours" and a "right colours" group. The
"wrong colours group started painting the fields as wrong as possible,
using the complementary colours (e.g. instead of painting the sky blue, it
would be orange). The "right colours" group started with an "accurate"
impressionistic depiction of the colours they saw in the same landscape in
front of then. Each subsequent group continued on the same paintings for
half an hour. But slowly the paintings would change: The paintings in
which wrong colours were used would slowly move a bit to the right
colours, and the ones in which the "appropriate" colours had been used,
would slowly move to include unexpected colours.
Workshop with the Reggio Emilia Network in
Kuusiluoto Island, Helsinki, 6 September 2008
On a nice
Saturday, 14 participants of the Reggio Emilia Network in Finland gathered
at the University of Art and Design for a presentation on arts-based
environmental education. In the afternoon, they walked to the Kuusiluoto
island. Together with Jan van Boeckel they did different exercises
there, connecting the imagination, nature, the human body and its senses.
Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy focused on preschool and
primary education. It was started by the parents of the villages around
Reggio Emilia in Italy after World War II. The destruction from the war,
parents believed, necessitated a new, quick approach to teaching their
children. The Reggio Emilia philosophy is based upon the following set of
must have some control over the direction of their learning;
must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving,
listening, seeing, and hearing;
have a relationship with other children and with material items in the
world that children must be allowed to explore;
children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
Emilia approach to teaching young children puts the natural development of
children as well as the close relationships that they share with their
environment at the center of its philosophy. A child must have control
over his or her day-to-day activity and learning must make sense from the
child's point of view.
Between 25 and 29 of August 2008, Pirkko
Pohjakallio, Mari von Boehm and Jan van Boeckel of the research group led a
introductory week for the new students in art education at the
of Art and Design Helsinki (TaiK).
The theme of the week was environmental pedagogy. Below an overview of the week's programme.
Monday 25 August
Sharing of preconcepts of "art", "pedagogy", "environment". How do we
construct our ideas? Lecture by professor Pirkko Pohjakallio.
Tuesday 26 August
Arts-based environmental education (AEE) and art of the environment:
lectures by Mari von Boehm and Jan van Boeckel. Afternoon: AEE exercise on
Kuusiluoto Island. See images and read about the
Wednesday 27 August
Integration in environmental education
Lecture: Pedagogical ideas in design education by Leena Svinhufvud. Visit
to the Fennofolk exhibition at the Design Museum. In the afternoon: Visit
to the Ämmässuo dump yard, guided by Riikka Hietala. See images
Thursday 28 August
Visit to ARKKI, the School of Architecture for Children and Youth. Lecture
by director Pihla Meskanen. Exercise in making constructions with
toothpickers and candy as building elements. Afternoon: Building willow
huts on a kindergarten play ground. See images
Friday 29 August
Visit to the Environmental Education Centre at Harakka Island. Exercise in
using the senses: Splitting up in small groups and individually
focussing on "only" hearing, "only" seeing, "only" tasting, "only"
touching, or "only" smelling the island environment.
Joint lunch with each subgroup preparing a special colour. Everybody
brought a special drinking cup of their own and told what it meant to
them, at the same time each gave their individual evaluations of the week. See images
As part of Environmental Pedagogics course Autumn semester, art education
students Ilmari Arnkil, Tiina Humaloja and Tuuka Seppälä. at the
University of Art and Design (TaiK) in Helsinki, Finland. The film is
about the sense of hearing and plays with the combination of different,
unexpected sounds and visual experience.
Click below to see (and hear!) the film on YouTube:
Painting' summer art course in the Norwegian mountains
Sandane, Norway, 28 July - 1 Aug. 2008
At this 4 day painting
course, participants painted the rough and breathtaking landscape
along the steep slopes of Fjord-Norway. Teacher was Jan van Boeckel. "Wild painting"
aimed at connecting with nature in new and exciting ways, in an effort to see
the colors in the world around us with fresh eyes. See images
Creating Nature. Art in the Landscape
Schumacher College, Dartington, UK May 26 – June 6, 2008
At the course 'Creating Nature: Art
in the landscape' at Schumacher College in the United Kingdom, Jan van
Boeckel was facilitator and one of the teachers. Other teachers were Susan
Derges and Lynne Hull.
The participants discussed the
relationship between art and the natural world. The course involved
exploration, discovery and creative practice in landscape. Nature in all
its beauty and complexity has been an integral part of art from the first
images and artefacts ever created by humans. Recent years have seen a
resurgence of its importance for artists, not just as inspiration but as
the actual medium within which they work.
Susan Derges introduced participants to the unique way she works within
the landscape to create works of art, and help them make their own art
inspired by the woods and gardens around the College and the wilds of
Dartmoor. Susan Derges is a photographer who uses the natural world as her
darkroom to create images of water flows and the night sky around her
In the second week, Lynne Hull worked with the group to create, within the
College grounds, a piece of "trans-species" art which restores habitat
damaged by human impact while encouraging humans to understand wildlife
needs and to shift attitudes toward other species. Lynne Hull has
pioneered "trans-species" art, creating sculpture installations as
wildlife habitat enhancement and eco-atonement for human impact. She has
worked in the American West and eight other countries with a variety of
wildlife agencies. Currently she is working on Migration Mileposts,
linking communities in the Americas who share migratory birds.
Lynne’s sculpture and installations provide shelter, food, water or space
for wildlife, as eco-atonement for their loss of habitat to human
encroachment. Her current projects link communities from Canada to South
America through their shared wildlife. Some raise human awareness of our
trans-species relationship and harmonious ways to live that relationship
in the landscape. While assisting wildlife, when possible projects are
also designed with components of sustainable economic development for
humans. Lynne will work with the group to create a piece of trans-species
art within or near the grounds of Schumacher College. She comments on her
work: "I believe that the creativity of artists can be applied to real
world problems and can have an effect on urgent social and environmental
issues. I am increasingly aware that the greatest challenge faced by other
species is the need for change in human values and attitudes toward
conflicting rights, wants, and needs. I hope my work offers models for
Twenty artists from Finland, Poland, Netherlands, United Kingdom and
Sweden, plus crew of four, sailing with the schooner Helena from Oslo, Norway, to
harbor Uusikaupunki in Finland, during April 2008. Mari von Boehm co-ordinated this project.
Jan van Boeckel participated in and
teached at the Fire and Light workshop of the EDDA Norden network at the
department of art education at the University of Telemark in Notodden,
Snow and Ice Art Workshop
Lainio, Finland, January 2007
von Boehm and Jan van Boeckel participated in the Snow and Ice workshop at Lainio Snow Village, north of
Rovaniemi, Finland. The workshop was organized by the Art Education
department of the University of Lapland. Goal: The course aims to enhance students’ understanding in snow
and ice as artistic material, the dialogue between sculpture and its
environment and winter art as an architectural element. Students learn to
apply the acquired skills in art education with various materials in their
local environment. Content: To provide students with basic theory of winter art, snow
and ice architecture and practice in snow and ice sculpting. Methods: Orientation studies based on web material and given
literature (see below) prior to start of the course. Lectures in
Rovaniemi, visits to local instances involved in northern environment and
culture. Collaborative snow and ice sculpting in Lainio Snow Village in
Ylläs. Students will work in small groups to design and realize interiors
to snow hotel. The themes of the designs are related to the northern
environment and nature. Written and illustrated documentation of the