Sari Majander is a print-based artist living and working in Helsinki, Finland. The craft of printmaking allows for the combination of two processes used in making multiples: the photographic digital image with the analogue woodcut. The photographic is used without the representational aspects, creating an abstract tension in each image. Automated tools like laser-cutters blend with the unreliable marks caused by the human hand burnishing the woodcut layers. The prints insist on aesthetic pleasure and tactility in a time when our many interactions are transmitted through the touch of a screen.
I graduated from Brighton in the summer of 2018. I had been in art schools before this, but I had spent most of my time flitting from painting to installation to socially engaged practice without a bedrock on which to build a practice. At the print department in Brighton I found a boundary and a technical tradition to push against, which propelled my art practice forwards.
After graduating in June 2018 I soon moved back to my hometown Helsinki in Finland because I wanted to apply to the print MFA at the Academy of Fine Arts here, and to be closer to my family. On the BA at Brighton we had been tasked with writing a practicable plan for the first six months out of university. This turned out to be incredibly helpful in keeping my practice going once I had settled in. I wrote a short list of what I hoped to do: find a workspace in Helsinki, apply for a printbased artist residency somewhere in Europe and to submit my MFA application.
Within the first months I was able to sort out a small studio where I could store and organize my works and equipment. I used to work from my kitchen back when I started in 2014 which wasn’t great for a work-life balance, so it makes a big difference to me now to have a designated space for work. There’s a couple of shared printmaking workshops in Helsinki where I can rent a press when I need to.
I wanted to do a print-based artist residency in the fall of 2018, and after applying to a couple of places I was offered 4 weeks at Grafisk Værksted Vejle in Denmark. I felt very lucky to be invited and meet the vibrant creative community that works there. As an artist the residency also gave me time for my own open-ended work in the print room and I was able to consider where I wanted to go next in my practice.
While on residency I had my interview for the MFA program at the Academy of Fine Arts and just before Christmas I was offered a place on the course. I started in January 2019. The BA at Brighton laid the groundworks for the deepening focus in my art practice that I now have on the MFA course.
The university schedule is a little different in Finland: We’re doing our degree show in April 2020, even though my studies will continue into 2021. In addition I have a show coming up next year at Grafoteekki, the Association of Finnish Printmakers space in Helsinki. Since graduating I have exhibited my works in group shows in Finland through the Association and in the UK with fellow Brighton alumni, printmaker and curator Rowan Siddons. One of the prints I made during my BA in Brighton was acquired by the Finnish State Art Commission earlier this year, and I currently have a couple of prints on view at Clarion Helsinki. I enjoy putting the works in group shows, because you get to discuss how the curator interprets it and what kinds of works they hang it with.
I have also set up a trade name for publishing the works – Pastel Editions. At my core I’m still an artist and a craftsperson who feels most at home in the studio and the workshop, but I enjoy managing the distribution. There’s an empowerment in being in charge of different aspects of your own work instead of outsourcing, or leaving it up to whoever is already in that space, and I hope that’s something I can hold on to going forwards. I like the mobility and community aspects of printmaking, and I might pick up and move again after graduating from the MFA. For now, I’m glad to be based in Helsinki and building my practice outwards from here.