Marja-Leena Rathje
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a moth and Nordic art



found on the floor of my studio
like another on the windowsill
and in my office window

Not really related but sometimes rather winglike, mythical and mysterious:

Eyes as Big as Plates, an ongoing collaborative venture between Riitta Ikonen (Finland) and Karoline Hjorth (Norway). I love how their photographs are set in the natural environment and seem to reference ancient Nordic folk stories. The link above goes to a blog about their photo projects and exhibitions in each of their birth countries and now developing in New York City. Their models are volunteer seniors. Here's the first post. Enjoy!

(Many thanks to Leslee of Third House Party for sending this to me - she knows me well!)

Added March 15th: I keep going back to look at this amazing photo of a moth at Jude Hill's Spirit Cloth. Be sure to click to view larger. The wing edges look like frayed edges of cloth, just like the pieces of worn cloth she stitches. Her work is just lovely and meditative as is her site - a place of peace and calm.

Added March 26th: Writer and poet Marly Youmans has written a marvellous post about 'Eyes as Big as Plates', referencing her own book The Foliate Head and Andy Goldsworthy. I was stunned to open her blog this morning and see the image of one of the "Eyes", this time on the cover of Kiasma magazine. Kiasma is the modern art museum in Helsinki. Go look!

Marja-Leena | 11/03/2013 | 16 comments
themes: Nature, Other artists, Photography, Photoworks


The moth scans are fabulous - the detail and texture, the sense of complexity and age and fragility...

Eerily beautiful, and how perfectly intact it is, even the antennae are whole.

Jean and Lucy, glad you like these. I enjoyed playing with the scanner, finding the need to scan quite large and at high resolution in order to see these amazing details. It was barely more than a centimeter long and rather insignificant looking, so these came as a wonderful surprise.

Yes, I agree your moth scans are wonderful - soft and silky enough that I felt like reaching out to touch.

Thank you too for posting The Eyes As Big As Plates pictures. Oh my! I was staggered by the beauty and serenity of those images.

Susan, I'm pleased you like both the moth scans and Eyes as Big as Plates. I keep going back to look at those beautiful images, even wishing I could also be wrapped in those tall grasses or lie on moss and have my photo taken (and I'm camera shy).

Moths like butterflies seem to be disappearing in parts of this country. In the old days you took them for granted. Now to see one round here is almost an event in itself. Thank you for the reminder of how beautiful they can be.

Joe, this was very mousy-looking but I was curious to see how it would look enlarged. The colour certainly improved via the scanner's own preferences.

Yes, it is indeed sad that they have lessened, likely due to chemicals in the soils and air. As gardeners we are encouraged to plant butterfly (and bee) attracting plants, and I'm now reminded that I should be making more of an effort on that.

Love your moth! What an interesting character! Also love the link to Eyes as Big as Plates. So inspiring! Thanks so much, Marja-Leena!

Katja, glad you like the moth. And the link - it really is inspiring, isn't it? I have it in my feed and am keenly following their almost daily reports. I wish we could go to NY to see the exhbition and meet the artists.

Oh, Marja-Leena, you really should have your photo taken covered in moss! Anyway, glad you enjoyed the link. I love the moth, too. It looks like jewelry.

Leslee, yeah, there's lots of moss around here, though soggy wet with days and days of a Pineapple Express! Do you remember the photo of the woman covered in giant rhubarb leaves? I've never seen them that big - makes my pitiful ones look like runts - and wouldn't work for this kind of photo shoot. Glad you like the moth, like jewelry you say? Wow.

The tiger lily plant I have had for years in shooting up amazing green sprouts this year. When I think of life sprouting up and this moth, so beautiful lying on your scanner, I am moved. The extremes of beauty ... new and old. Green and grey. The senior volunteers out in nature are beautiful, too.

rouchswalwe, the "extremes of beauty" - I like that, thank you!

Now I am thinking that your pieces that look like gold would make a wonderful group--and they all somehow have that ancient quality, don't they? This definitely has a sort of unfamiliar, mythic feel.

I love the calligraphic flourish of the antennae...

And because it's not a thing that we have looked at closely but something that strikes us as rather insignificant when we see it in "real life," it looks very new and fresh and wondrous when seen in such detail.

I just love those moth-scans! So delicate and mysterious, like paper but closer to life. And those photos! What a different sensibility from what we're used to, both on the part of the Nordic artists and their subjects. I am in love with Agnes II and her helmet of twigs.

Marly, that is an interesting observation - another series-like body of images. Looking closer at the seemingly ordinary does seem to be a continuing thread in my work. That is what is so wonderful about scanning. Thanks always for your wonderful words.

Beth, I'm so pleased that you like the the scans. And yes, there is a different sensibility in the Nordic artists' photos. I love them all. The seniors have such rich luminous faces which seem transformed by taking part in this project.