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The Fish Who Wanted Wings - Closing the Circle


The Fish Who Wanted Wings - Ateneum's art education project in Benin

In January 2011, the Ateneum Art Museum organised an art workshop for children at Villa Karo, the Finnish-African Cultural Centre in Benin, West Africa. The aim of this project was to encourage the participants to express their own interpretations of African stories. The workshop was held in conjunction with an exhibition of the Finnish national epic entitled Le Kalevala. The exhibition also featured copies of Finnish art inspired by the Kalevala, including art from the collections of Ateneum and the Gallen-Kallela Museum.

Entitled The Fish Who Wanted Wings, the project was coordinated in Benin by Pekka Lehtimäki, Principal of the Hämeenlinna School of Fine Arts for Children and Young People. The workshop was led by Beninese artist Victor Amoussou, who was assisted by textile artist Leea Pienimäki-Amoussou.

A total of eight pupils between the ages of 7 and 16, including five boys and three girls, took part in the three-day workshop. They were selected in advance from among the participants in a drawing competition.

The results of the three-day workshop were presented in Finland as a digital image composition, first at Ateneum Art Museum in spring and afterwards at the ARX Cultural Centre for Children and Youth in Hämeenlinna.

On the initiative of Educational curator Erica Othman, the project was continued at Ateneum. The 4th grade at the Katajanokka Primary School in Helsinki participated in a workshop in which Finnish children painted a greeting to children in Benin. The other coordinator was textile artist Leea Pienimäki-Amoussou, who presented the project "The Fish Who Wanted Wings" and told more about Villa Karo and life in Grand-Popo in words and images.

This year, in the beginning of March, an exhibition of the project was opened at Villa Karo. The exhibition presents paintings by Beninese children together with those of Finnish children. And so the circle closes.

The Fish Who Wanted Wings was organised in partnership with the Friends of Villa Karo Association.
Special thanks go to Kwassi Akpladoukou, Director of Villa Karo, and his staff.

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