The Prince of Spain found his way to the Särestöniemi estate. He must have been an admirer of Mr. Reidar Särestöniemi’s art. The Finnish president was also a fan. He also visited. They both had the opportunity of taking a sauna and a swim in possibly the most exclusive sauna and swimming pool in the Arctic.
We had just toured the whole estate, and the director Ms. Anne Koskamo had presented Reidar Särestöniemi from A to Y. We were in the gallery that was built so Särestöniemi could work in peace in the studio. The exhibition in the gallery Särestöniemi built in 1972 is changing every year. The museum doesn’t want the works to be replicated too much, and after filming on the ground floor; I felt that we had reached our level. Anne invited us upstairs. She insisted.
Upstairs was a swimming pool. It is 2.5 meters deep and rests on the ground. It is rarely used, but it is always filled with water. It keeps a perfect level of humidity for the paintings, Anne says. Särestöniemi loved to swim and next to the swimming pool is the mandatory sauna. Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and President Urho Kekkonen are just of the celebrities that had the honor of swimming and exchanging sauna stories with Särestöniemi in the gallery.
Särestöniemi was successful from the very beginning. His art touch a universal nerve and the success made it possible for Särestöniemi to build the gallery and studios.
In the gallery in 2014 one of the paintings was “Flooding of the manor during the spring thaw”. It was painted in 1972. The spring was a very important time of the year for Särestöniemi. He was born in spring .He called himself the child of the spring. In the spring the water floods, the river Ounas floods, the snow and ice melts, and the yard, the manor, is filled with water. The painting is telling the story of that time of the year.
Another work is one of the last paintings he made: “The first light of a winter day behind frosted birches”. Winter was the time of the year that Särestöniemi feared. It was cold and dark. The lack of light made it difficult for him to paint in the flickering light from the fireplace in the early days. He tried to conquer the winter by painting it.
The first studio he built next to the gallery by the river was lost to fire on New Year’s Eve 1977. It was a great loss to Särestöniemi, he had a lot of things of great personal value when the flames took it; poems, paintings and equipment.
He had another and bigger studio built on the hill top. Here he felt like an Eagle. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to work in it for long, as he died in 1981 of a heart attack.
When he died, his brother Anton inherited the Särestöniemi legacy. A foundation was set up when Anton passed away in 1997. The Särestöniemi treasure is securely staged at the far end of the supermarket.
I have been there twice, and a third visit is forthcoming.