Throughout 2022 Von Hertzen Brothers partnered with the Finnish Natural heritage Foundation and founded The Blue Forest project. The aim of the partnership was to raise awareness of the loss of biodiversity and to protect ancient woodland in Southern Finland.
A campaign combining music, art and nature conservation saw twelve renowned Finnish artists create paintings inspired by tracks on Von Hertzen Brothers most recent album, Red Alert in the Blue Forest. These music-inspired works were previewed at an exclusive event at Tavastia Club in Helsinki before being sold in an online auction.
The initial auction was so successful that it inspired a second round of fundraising hosted by Ikimetsäpuoti, the Finnish Natural Heritage Foundation’s very own shop, where prominent Finnish musicians joined forces to donate memorabilia.
Among the various items to bid on were Lauri Ylönen’s crow feathers (worn during The Rasmus’ performance at Eurovision 2022), drumsticks donated by Kai Hahto (Nightwish) original handwritten lyrics, stage gear and even Mikko’s very own electric guitar.
At the end of the campaign, enough funds were raised to secure 40 hectares of ancient forest in Southern Finland which will be protected for future generations. Read Mikko’s Blog about it here
To celebrate the achievement, the Von Hertzen Brothers recorded a special live and unplugged video from the Loppi area. Watch it below.
Also, watch a 3-part documentary showing just how much the brothers fell deeply in love with this particular forest, The Blue Forest.
SONG: DAY OF RECKONING
ARTIST: VILLE TIETÄVÄINEN
Mixed technique for tinted board 400 x 574 mm (with frames about 700 x 900 mm)
“It was an honor to have a pictorial interpretation of the opening track of the album. Its creation was inspired by the growing musical and ideological enormity and the purpose of the work in supporting the Natural Heritage Foundation. The visual theme of the work combines what is suggested to humanity in the piece with what man himself does to forest nature.”
SONG: BLUE FOREST
ARTIST: SAMULI HEIMONEN
Acrylic and oil on canvas 80cm x 60cm
“It was a pleasure and an honour to hear new VHB music in advance and participate in the Blue Forest project.
I listened to the song open-mindedly and left for work intuitively. The themes, colors, and moods rose mostly directly from the music. My painting is an image of the experience of listening to music, not so much an illustration of a song or text. I exceptionally wanted to paint to a slightly smaller size. The essence of the work is related to the idea of a carefully cut diamond, which I like the music of VHB.
I also wanted to include my own catalog in the painting, which is familiar from my previous collaboration with the band. It was immediately clear to me that this work would be a continuation of something that already existed and would be part of a broader story. The Blue Forest song itself also settled in a logical continuum with VHB’s previous music. I’m looking forward to hearing from the whole album. “
SONG: THE PROMISE
ARTIST: HEIKKI WILLAMO
Digital photo. 60cm x 90cm
Pigment print, narrow metal frame covered with black wood veneer, 70% non-reflective glass.
“The Promise took me to the past: the memory of the earth and the ancient position of the bear in the human mind.”
SONG: ALL OF A SUDDEN, YOU’RE GONE
ARTIST: MANUELA BOSCO
Work: II, Fantasy, Della Vita, The Ghost of Life – Oil / acrylic 140cm x 130cm
“An empty four poster bed in the pond depicts a soft but also enigmatic life. Water is a symbol of the subconscious, the basis of what we create unconsciously. Many things in life may look and feel soft, but they can still cause “drowning” nonetheless. That is, things always have their sides and everything can change in one direction and another.“
SONG: PEACE PATROL
ARTIST: JARMO KUKKONEN
100cm x 125cm
“Yes. This song, Peace Patrol, became really topical, and I felt it was extremely important to do it.
For two summers, in 2018 and 2019, I was in eastern Ukraine near Kharkiv, painting landscapes. There were about 20 Ukrainian artists in the same project and thus friendships were formed. It has been heartbreaking to follow the events of the last few days there and I have been in contact with many acquaintances who are trying to survive or have had to fight. The painting Peace Patrol has now been the thing to which I have channeled all the power and peace I have wanted to strengthen in my mind .
There are echoes of the river images I painted there in the landscape of the painting, and I have tried to bring into it a set of light from a sphere of peace, descending from somewhere.”
SONG: PIRATES OF THE RASEBORGIAN
TITLE: FAARI AT SEA
ARTIST: MILLA PALONIEMI
Ink and chalk and wood paint on card 24cm x 32cm
“Hi, it’s Milla! Cartoonist, illustrator, graphic artist and pony farmer. I live in the Tampere countryside in Teisko with 6 horses, 2 cats and a tenant. Nature and man as part of it have always been important to me, both as values and as inspiration.
In the Kiroileva siili (The Cursing Hedgehog) series, the newest character is the FAARI-HEDGEHOG character, Hedgehog’s long-lost grandfather”
TITLE: “LOVING HEART”
ARTIST: ROSA LIKSOM
40cm x 50 cm
SONG: NORTHERN LIGHTS
ARTIST: KATARIINA SOURI
Acrylic and oil on canvas 144cm x 100cm
“Of course, the work was inspired by the sounds of the northern lights of the Northern Lights song, and I felt that there must be northern lights in the work, even if a little goes together. The white raven has the unexplained mythical power and wisdom of the north, and it embodies the extreme limit that humanity, in its own short-sighted greed, cannot go without irreparable and fatal consequences. The direction must be reversed by now. ”
ARTIST: MINNA PYYKKÖ
Oil on canvas 80cm x 130 cm
“My father Tapsa instilled in me as a child a love for the visual arts, and the idea that it is true and important. That’s when as a kid, I even imagined it would be great to live in a chamber as a hermit, creating stunning paintings, and then come out at the end of life to poke thanks. Fortunately, life takes you in finer directions than you know how to plan in advance.”
SONG: DISAPPEAR THERE
ARTIST: JAAKKO MATILLA
Bilberry on paper 35cm x 40cm
“”I myself have been a member of the Natural Heritage Foundation for a few years now and when Mikko called I was of course involved. The work has a direct connection to Finnish nature as it is made with natural blueberries. The picture and the song speak for themselves.
OVERALL CONCEPT: RED ALERT IN THE BLUE FOREST
ARTIST: MARKKU HAKURI
Pastel, oil, chalk , ink, marker on paper 70cm x 100cm
“I’ve known the boys – Kie, Mikko and Jonne – since they were born. Kie is my godson, my canoeing buddy. As long as I remember the brothers have spoken and worked for nature and its diversity.
The album, Red Alert in the Blue Forest, tells of their thoughts. It is easy for me to identify with the whole. The influential factors are music, our common background and the common concern for the future of our environment and the planet. ”
Pictorial storyteller – graphic designer, illustrator and cartoonist. Ville’s books have been published in seven languages.
His first comic book ‘Linnut ja meret’ was published in 2003.
His most influential is probably the Invisible Hands (Finnish: Näkymättömät kädet) comic book released in 2011 and winner of Finnish Graphic Novel Finlandia Prize. The comic book deals with themes like social injustice, illegal immigrants and globalization.
Ville’s work is mostly published electronically and / or in print, so making an original work of art was a rare treat.
Samuli Heimonen was Young Artist of the Year in 2008 and has also been awarded the Medal of the Tapper Art Society in 2003. His works can be found in the collections of the Finnish state, Helsinki City Art Museum, Tampere Art Museum, Paulo Foundation, Salo Art Museum, Kouvola Art Museum, Mikkeli Art Museum, Tuusula Art Museum and Herala and Mannila Foundation, as well as private collections such as Capman.
Publicly, Samuli Heimonen’s works include displays at the Porvoo Library, the Ruusupuisto building of the University of Jyväskylä and the Kangasniemi City Hall.
Heikki Willamo is a photographer, nature photographer and author from Karelia. He is particularly interested in the life and atmosphere of the old forest and the ancient rock art and myths behind the images.
Willamo has held numerous photo exhibitions in Finland and abroad and published twenty books. Willamo’s work has long taken people to the edge of northern nature to think about its uniqueness and vulnerability.
Manuela Bosco is a Finnish-Italian painter born in 1982. She has Academic Degrees in Performing Arts and Art Education from the University of Jyväskylä and Academia Europea D’Arte Dramatica, Rome.
She has been a full-time painter since 2014 and believes that Art is something that you cannot find in schools or books – technique is another thing – but only by accepting, daring and surrending to the “call” you may feel inside.
Jarmo Kukkonen was born in 1968 and was primarily inspired by the 1980s. An an era of developing global capitalism, political upheaval, worldwide mass media, wealth discrepancies and distinctive music and fashion, characterised by hip hop and electronic pop music.
During this time prominent art movements included Neo Geo, The Pictures Generation and Neo-Expressionism, which took a strong hold in Germany, France and Italy. Artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Jörg Immendorf, Enzo Cucchi, Francesco Clemente and Julian Schnabel were primary artists working during this period, alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf, who developed the street art and graffiti movements, which quickly gained an influential reputation.
Milla Paloniemi is a Finnish cartoonist and graphic artist, born in Jalasjärvi. She is best-known for her comic strip about a cursing hedgehog, ‘Kiroileva siili’.
The character first appeared in the margins of Milla’s college notebooks and rose to fame through the publications on her website. When she self-published the first book in January 2007 it was an instant hit. The hardcover book in February of that same year became one of Finland’s best-selling books. And English version called ‘The Cursing Hedgehog’ was published in 2011.
Paloniemi is also the creator of ‘Tassutellen’, a far cuter comic strip about a dog and a cat. It was first published in book form in 2007.
During his more than 20-year career as an artist, Sampsa Sarparanta (b.1973) has held dozens of solo exhibitions and participated in several joint exhibitions in Finland and abroad. His works include In the collections of Kiasma, the City of Turku and the Salo Art Museum.
Sarparanta has studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. He lives and works in Perniö.
Sarparanta is known for his social realism. The topics have included the starving workers of Sudan as well as the laid-off workers at the Turku confectionery factory, but also portraits and everyday glimpses of the artist’s close circle. Helsingin Sanomat called Sarparanta a great illustrator of the wonderful horror of everyday life (January 2011).
Sarparanta is also known for his 20-year career as a singer-songwriter for the No Shame punk band, and now for his new band SARPARANTA.
Author-visual artist Rosa Liksom (b. 1958) is a major figure in Finnish literature. She won the Finlandia Award in 2011 and the Pro Finlandia Medal in 2013. Liksom, who made her debut at the One Night Stop in 1985 with her collection of short stories, is also one of Finland’s most successful contemporary writers internationally. In 2020, she was awarded the Academy of Sweden’s Nordic Literature Prize, and in 2021 Liksom was awarded the Veijo Meri Prize.
In the fall of 2017, the fourth novel called “The Mother of Our Short Prose,” was published. It was chosen as the winner of the Lapland Literature Prize.
Based on Liksom’s hit novel Cabin No. 6, the film of the same name won the Grand Prix in 2021 at the Cannes Film Festival.
Väylä, published in the autumn of 2021, is Liksom’s Fifth Novel. Väylä was chosen as the winner of the reader-Finlandia, and the work was nominated for the Finlandia Prize for Fiction. In addition to her work as a writer, the prolific Rosa Liksom has held numerous art exhibitions of her own over the decades.
Minna Inari Pyykkö (b. 1967 in Stockholm) is a Finnish nature editor and painter with a degree in biology and a master’s degree in psychology. She also trained as a visual artist .
Pyykkö has been doing nature programs for YLE since the early 1990s. Pyykö has a weekly program in Finland, ’Minna Pyykö’s World’, which is enjoyed by Finnish nature scientists and enthusiasts, as well as artists interested in nature topics. Since 2013, together with Kimmo Ohtonen and Pirkka-Pekka Petelius, she has hosted the series Out in Nature on TV1.
In 2011, Pyykkö received the Tietonharava Environmental Award from the Association of Environmental Journalists, and in 2014 the Golden Feather award from the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation for her work on insightful and listener-friendly nature programs at YLE . The work written and illustrated by Pyykö ‘I Heard Allie Sing’ was chosen as the nature book of the year 2020.
In May 2019, she was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of the University of Helsinki.
Mattila was born in Oulu, and graduated from The Surrey Institute of Art & Design University College in 2001. Since then his works have been displayed in Finland, the United Kingdom, Italy and France and he has made public works.
Mattila is interested in the fundamental elements that create our sense, or illusion, of the world. Nature is his biggest single inspiration. He is also interested in the constructive principles of the universe such as infinity, smallness, greatness and time. Among his paintings he has made sculptures, installations and art furniture. Mattila currently lives and works in Finland.
He is a member of the Finnish Painters Union, Oulu Artist Organisation and artist group Collect East.
Markku Hakuri has worked as a visual artist since 1976. In addition to his work as a visual artist, he has worked as a teacher both in Finland and abroad (including the Theater Academy / Finnish Academy of Fine Arts / Middlebury College (USA) / ESAG Paris, France Belgium / 2000 – 2012 at Aalto University as Professor of Environmental Art).
In addition to his career as an artist and teacher, Hakuri has worked as an environmental artist and director (eg Savonlinna Opera Festival, Finnish National Opera, Helsinki City Theater, National Theater, Group Theater, Tampere Workers’ Theater, Estonian Drama Theater).
For an applicant, making art is an experiment and a conscious risk-taking. Art means a dictionary of being in the world, the content of which is determined by the fateful connection between imagination and knowledge.