Introduction:

"This blog is not necessarily for lovers of art, it includes a variety of topics and whatever. I'm a painter who likes to know what's really going on in the world today. So you might find anything from Shamrocks to Salmiakki mentioned here on my blog. There will of course be some boring, factual and informational posts, but I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise!

And I might get a bit nostalgic now and then.

So you have been warned!"


- Alan Hogan



Friday, December 13, 2013

No Snow in Finland!

Karjaa, Finland - 12.12.2013


Okay, so this blogpost was meant to go out a few days ago. It was meant to be a short post with lots of pretty snow photos from Finland. I even took a quick video from where I'm actually sitting right now which was going to be followed by more winter images. There was a drop in temperature to -13 degrees celsius, so everything was looking all nice and glitzy. I could almost hear the Jingle bells ringing!

But then all of a sudden the temperature rose to +8C degrees! And did I get a chance to take my Christmas photos? ...No!
Instead, after seeing awful weather on tv from the recent memorial for the late Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and hearing about the first snow in Jerusalem for over 60 years, I stood at my window taking photos of grass outside my Finnish home. This is truly terrible! It's now less than two weeks to Christmas and there's no snow in Finland! What's up with that?






Here lies possibly the last piece of snow of 2013. 
It is now in my freezer in case of emergency.



I realise the title of my blogpost isn't entirely true, of course there is snow in Finland. It's such a big country, you only need to drive 200 kilometers north and you will be guaranteed snow. But if anyone is travelling to the capital area of Helsinki, beware for you may be disappointed, especially as one of Finland's finest events occurs today.




Today marks the crowning of Lucia, an annual event on December 13th happening in various towns across Finland with the largest and most media-covered crowning being held in Helsinki against the backdrop of the fabulous Helsinki Cathedral.  


 Click to see original painting


I have seen this event without snow before. I remember a group of students from Sweden brought their own Lucia celebration to St.Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland about 10 years ago. It was something special indeed, especially when I first saw the group all dressed in white gowns with red sashes walking up the freezing stone floor in their bare feet. It was a very cold evening and walking barefoot didn't look easy. While I still remember that occasion in Dublin very well, it is still not as spectacular as the proceedings in Helsinki. 
If you missed the Lucia celebrations at the big white church in Helsinki today don't worry, you can watch it all on the Finnish National broadcaster's channel. Just click this Link













Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends. Let's hope the snow arrives here and wherever you are for Christmas!





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- Alan 



                     
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy Independence Day Finland




Happy 
Independence Day 
Finland!









- Alan 



   

Friday, November 29, 2013

Pikkujoulu! Party time!




Pikkujoulu begins this weekend here in Finland. This date on the calendar always confuses me. Correctly translated from Finnish to English, Pikku joulu means Little Christmas. For swedish-speaking Finns it translates as Lilla Jul. But when the word Pikkujoulu is mentioned in Finland it usually refers to Christmas Party-time, and more so by Finnish speakers. It's time for groups, companies, friends and colleagues to hold their Christmas parties! 
The reason I get confused is because back in my old country Ireland, we also have Little Christmas or 'Nollaig Bheag' as it's called in Irish. But it is celebrated after Christmas on January 6th. I always remember it occurring just before the end of the Christmas school holidays. My parents used to meet up with friends at the local bar and invite them back to our house afterwards for some food, a few drinks and sometimes a sing-song! 

The fact that there's no term for the Irish equivalent of Pikkujoulu does not mean to say that Irish people don't have their own version of it before Christmas. Indeed, the festivities are very similiar to Finland with non-stop company parties and all other gatherings throughout the whole month of December. Because of their popularity and the difficulty in finding or booking a venue, some Christmas parties can often begin as early as the first week in November!

One of my favourite days while living back in Ireland was the last day of work before breaking up for Christmas holidays. It was a day of very little work and more about drinking coffee and eating as many of the boss' chocolates as possible! And all this while been presented with bottles of whiskey from customer reps and suppliers, and not to mention the Christmas bonus!! 
After all that it was straight to the pub at 12.00 for a free bar and finger-food (I imagine these pleasures have been trimmed back a little since the bank crisis a few years ago)
Having left work-colleagues at the pub in the afternoon during the usual half-drunken rendition of either 'You've lost that lovin' feelin'!' by The Righteous Brothers or 'Fairytale of New York' by The Pogues, I usually headed into Dublin city centre to meet up with my own friends. This is the best time to be in Dublin or any other city in Ireland, as the atmosphere is really warm and friendly. As an Irish person I would go so far to say it's better than St.Patrick's Day (unless it happens on Christmas Eve Dec 24th when most city pubs close at 9pm! ...that's a bummer!!)


Happy 10th Birthday Fake Argos Christmas Tree!!


Anyway I'm all set for Pikkujoulu here in Finland. I've dragged my old fake Christmas tree out from storage and the lights are up. I can't believe that the same lights which came with this tree are still working! I must admit I hate untangling any sort of Christmas lights. I think I'm gonna add it on to my Love/Hate list on facebook (you can follow it on my Facebook page here)

Christmas Lights!!! :)

It's a momentous year as my tree celebrates it's 10th birthday! I bought my tree from the Argos store in Dublin while living in Ireland and it has served me well every year since. I like to look at it as been ten real trees I have kept alive. Although I confess, I have cut one down for someone else as a favour while in Finland.


Guilty!



"Happy Pikkujoulu!!!"


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- Alan 



                     
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Slogans uncovered

I recently found a site featuring famous brandnames with a few interesting slogans. It gave me a few laughs. Here's a few examples... Just click to enlarge!

Source: Honest Slogans

Source: Honest Slogans

Source: Honest Slogans

Source: Honest Slogans

Source: Honest Slogans

Source: Honest Slogans

Source: Honest Slogans

Source: Honest Slogans

There's plenty more slogans to be found on Honest Slogans . It's mostly brandnames better known to those of you living in the U.S.A. 
However there was one I didn't agree with. It was this slogan for Pepsi. Now unless it's Pepsi Zero, I will always choose Pepsi over Coke. The trouble is that it's not always available. 
And since when has there ever been NO COKE?


Source: Honest Slogans



Here's one I added myself. Bring back the greasy spoon where one could get a proper mug of coffee!!!

Source: Hogan's Blog

Finally while I was looking for something similar on airline company brands I stumbled on a funny joke.

A guy was sitting on a barstool drinking a pint at Heathrow airport, when a really beautiful woman sat down next to him. The guy thought to himself, "Wow, she's so gorgeous, she must be a flight attendant, but which airline does she work for?"

Being a bit of a know-all and hoping to pick her up, he leaned towards her and uttered the Delta Airlines slogan, "Love to fly and it shows?"

She gave him a blank, confused stare, and the guy immediately thought to himself, "Damn, she doesn't work for Delta".

A moment later, another slogan popped into his head. He leaned towards her again, "Something special in the air?"

She gave him the same confused look.

He mentally kicked himself and scratched Singapore Airlines off the list. Next he tried the Thai Airways slogan, "Smooth as silk".

This time the woman turned on him, 

"What the f*** do you want?"

Then the guy smiled, and said, 

"Ah, Ryanair!"



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- Alan 



                     
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Art and the Autumn fair.

Autumn in Finland

The autumn market is popular here in Finland and I will be going to my local one here in Karjaa/Karis this coming weekend. The market takes place on Saturday (12.10.2013, 9am-4pm).
I recently went to another autumn market in the nearby town of Ekenäs/Tammisaari, which is a much larger event with more stalls, a beer-tent and a fairground (video below). 






I managed to pick up a few items including some berries and liquorice. I also got the chance to catch up with a few friends for a chat in the beer-tent. I'm always curious to see if there's anything new when the market begins, but I usually end up seeing the same products and features every year. I suppose it's good to know what to expect sometimes!



Autumn market advert in local newspaper (Finnish and swedish text)

This year's autumn market in Karjaa/Karis will I imagine be somewhat the same as last year, with all the old favourites such as long string liquorice/candy, Dutch cheese, makkara (Finnish sausage) and of course a selection of thermal clothing for the coming winter, brrrr!!! As well as taking a look around the stalls at the market this Saturday I will also attend an art exhibition I am currently taking part in at Galleri Fokus which is situated near the market stalls in the centre of Karis/Karjaa. I have five paintings on display alongside work by several other local artists.  

Paintings at Galleri Fokus, Karis/Karjaa, 2013


On Saturday I will have a few more samples of my art in a small book that visitors can look at and also a few postcards and Christmas cards for sale. The gallery is open at 10.00-14.00.



I was very pleased to notice a few newspaper articles on this exhibition which mentioned my name and my paintings in a good light. 
In the Etelä-Uusimaa newspaper the text read "Irlantilaissyntyisen Alan Hoganin pointilistiset maalaukset ovat jännittäviä varsin suurikokoisine pilkkuineen. Ne ovat myös jollain tavalla iloisia maalauksia. Aiheina on perinteistäkin perinteisempiä suomalaisaiheita, kuten maalausten nimistä voi päätellä. Kannattaa käydä katsomassa, miltä näyttävät Raaseporin linna, ”Piilopirtti” ja Ahvenanmaalainen maisema pilkutettuina.", which basically means that my paintings reflect traditional Finnish image subjects in a positive and happy manner. Iso kiitos Etelä-Uusimaa sanomalehdelle!!

clipping from Etelä-Uusimaa newspaper 6.10.2013
(click image to enlarge)



Here in the Länsi-Uusimaa newspaper I also got a few lines!

clipping from Länsi-Uusimaa newspaper
(click image to enlarge)


And lastly in the Västra Nyland newspaper for Swedish speakers here in Finland, I got a special mention for which I am most grateful. The full article can be found on the Västra Nyland newspaper website.

clipping from Västra Nyland newspaper
(click image to enlarge)


So if any of you are planning on going to the Karjaa/Karis autumn market this Saturday, you are welcome to drop in to the exhibition at Galleri Fokus (under the town library). It's open 10.00-14.00, 12.10.2013.

Instrument of reflection I-IV
2013, acrylic on canvas


I am also involved in a group art exhibition in Helsinki at the moment. It's entitled 'Reflections' and it ends this coming Sunday, 13.10.2013. I have four paintings on show here called 'Instrument of reflection I-IV', which I made especially for this exhibition. More on these paintings can be read on my last post called 'Eyes without a face'. Myself and the other artists all had a great opening night at the Stoa cultural centre, with many visitors enjoying and commenting on the artworks. Here's a short video featuring my own work and the venue. 






Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends. Have a nice Autumn! ....(or Spring if you're in the southern hemisphere!!)






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- Alan 



                     
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Eyes without a face

Okay, so this blogpost has nothing to do with Billy Idol's hit song of the 1980's 'Eyes without a face', but hey it's a catchy title, so it might attract a few new readers to my blog via taglines!

What my blog is about is this....

Last June I posted a request for photos featuring peoples' eyes on my own Facebook page and a few other pages. I didn't get a lot of offers, but received enough for what I required. Firstly I want to thank those who helped me out, especially those of you from the IESAF Facebook group (International English Speakers Association of Finland). 
The photos I received where used to complete a series of four paintings which are to be exhibited by myself at the Stoa Culture centre in Helsinki this September and October 2013. It is part of a themed art exhibition called Reflections/Heijastuksia being held by the HIAA (Helsinki International Artists Association). There are 14 other visual artists participating alongside me at this exhibition which holds it's opening night this Tuesday, 24th September at 18.00-20.00. All of you are welcome to come and join myself and the other artists as we celebrate the association's 5th anniversary! The exhibition will run until 13th October 2013. For anyone using Facebook, an event page has been created here.

Here's a short video I put together showing the four paintings I will be including as part of the exhibition. 
The eye being an instrument of reflection can determine opinion and an individuals judgement of what it sees. One person's reflection of a vision is a separate account and will usually differ through analysis to that of another person. Such is my interpretation and approach to this exhibition theme of Reflections.




I hoped you liked my little video and hopefully you can make it to the exhibition. 
My apologies to any Billy Idol fans who may have stumbled on to my blog, here's that song you wanted to hear!






Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.



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You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 



                     
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Living next door to Alice


ALICE by Mick Minogue


Kieran Street, Kilkenny

This is an extension to an earlier post I wrote about a short visit I made to Kilkenny in July 2013. While I was walking around the city's streets I discovered an impressive piece of street-art. Situated at an empty building plot on Kieran street, this large art project entitled 'Alice' by Kilkenny artist Mick Minogue depicted images of a woman called Dame Alice Kyteler




Mick Minogue and Alice

My first thoughts when I saw the artwork was 'I like that, nice work...and something to do with witchcraft!!!'  I also wondered to myself how long will this artwork be here? I realised it was presented in an empty building space with a main part painted on the area's hoarding. I assumed it was perhaps a temporary addition to the city's art scene and would in time be replaced by a new property or business. With that thought in mind I had to enjoy the painting all the more in that moment, as it will most likely be out of sight before I get back to Ireland again. 

ALICE by Mick Minogue

Detail from the hoarding


I've never been much of a historical buff, but I sometimes like an interesting story or character. So after seeing the 'Alice' painting I read up a little more about this Kyteler woman. I discovered that "she was the first woman in all of Europe to be tried by the Church for crimes of witch craft". Now witches as part of Irish history or folklore never really seemed to register in my head as being interesting or popular until now. It was always Tír na nÓg, Queen Maeve, Setanta and banshees for me, and leprechauns for the tourists! 

Detail from Mick Minogue's ALICE


So leaving legends, myths and the little people aside, this old witch story seems to be somewhat documented with names, dates and occurances in time from 13th century Ireland and thus worth a little attention. A mild browse over Alice Kytelar's history and activities kindled up an image to me of a beautiful woman who apparently had a wicked way with men but in time befell to certain forces of evil and witchcraft (or maybe not?). There's some relevant reading about this woman on Mick Minogue's Blog and also Scandalous Women: Dame Alice Kyteler (1280 - 1324?)

Mick Minogue Made This!

The 'Alice' project was a special commission by The Keep Kilkenny Beautiful Committee as part of Tidy Towns 2013 and the artist has integrated this theme cleverly into his designs. Close evidence of this can be seen here in this short video. I particularly liked the witch themed anti-litter signs.






Seeing Mick Minogue's 'Alice' project made me check out more of his work, which I found to be both interesting and a little quirky. I don't get to travel back to Ireland as often as I would like, so I feel lucky to have had the chance to see this example of Mick Minogue's work and the Kilkenny art scene. More of Mick's work can be found at his website here or on his Facebook page.



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Check out these six 'Ireland' travel posts here on my blog. Click on the destinations below to read the rest!





















Thanks for reading my blog and please feel free to share it with any of your friends.

You can receive my blogposts direct to your email or facebook profile by pressing the follow button at NetworkedBlogs  and you are welcome to visit my art page on Facebook by clicking the 'Like' button under my signature below.


- Alan 



                     




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The Art Garage, Finland

The Art Garage, Finland
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