David Wilkensson (56) is British and has lived in Estonia for 16 years. He is a junior studio assistant at küün.ee.
Welcome to this week’s cultural guide. Everyone knows what is on at the opera and at KUMU, but I hope that there is at least one thing here you did not know about. I wish you a busy week of cultural life in Estonia and—read down—if you live in the city maybe your first proper sauna. I have selected things good for us foreigners and good if you want to go alone.
1) For your own pleasure or for Christmas presents you might want to buy some proper art. The Kunstilinnak Art Factory, ARS in Tallinn, is, as the name suggests, a place packed with artists producing some truly beautiful art that you will treasure for a lifetime and in many cases for no more money than you would spent on yet another unimaginative present for your poor mum or disapproving in-laws. My own favourite up there on Pärnu Road is Kersti Karu. Many even middle-aged Estonians will tell you they had a Kersti Karu piece in the house when they were little. She is still producing ceramic pieces of breath-taking sensitivity—and you will think a “0” has been missed off the price label. A young artist I like is Ingrid Pajo who creates textile art. But everyone argues for their own favourites so why not go to the Kunstilinnak this weekend and make your own discovery. There are two exhibitions this week (for example Liisi Eelmaa’s “Abracadabra”) and a shop with a very friendly lady, who can introduce you to the artists if you really like their work.
2) A favourite Estonian contemporary artist is Toomas Kuusing. He exhibits all over Estonia and his exhibition in Võru Linnagalerii comes to a grand finale on the 29th. You have maybe seen his linocuts and been struck by the meticulous skill. If you value your art according to the units of thought spent in looking at them and the hours of discussion provoked by their presence in your home, Kuusing is your man. If you cannot go all the way to Võru, ask in galleries in the Old Town or the upstairs gallery in the T1 shopping arcade.
3) If you liked Melik’s recommendation of Sip and Paint last week, you will love Drink ‘n’ Draw, an excellent cultural place to be sociable in English. Drink ‘n’ Draw has two events this week: 28.10 is an instructed drawing session at Von Krahl. Artist Aleksei Shatunov will give a presentation in the beginning, after which there will be a male nude model to draw. People can draw and follow the artist at work on a screen next to the model. After the session, people can show their works to Aleksei for feedback.
29.10 has a regular ‘free range’ drawing session at Von Krahl. There will be a female nude in various long and short poses to draw. No instructions, just 2,5 hours of blissful drawing with good music and company and decent beer.
4) Drum and Bass. Bass is a beer from Burton and with drums it is a music genre. If you are old enough, you may remember the first time round but it is thriving in Tallinn, the latest thing. So dust off your faux fur bikini and head down to Helitehas on Madara this Friday evening. You can sing along to your favourite numbers and take your partners for a little dance.
5) Maybe my favourite gallery in Tallinn and certainly the best reason to venture into the Hipster Quarter is Dokfoto. It is a gallery run by people with a passion and the art is photography which is the highest of all art forms after all. Specifically, it is documentary and street photography. It has had some great exhibitions that have given an insight into Estonian life. Many exhibitions are international and all materials are in English. We have missed the opening talks for this exhibition of works by Vincent Tremeau, but see this exhibition and do not leave Estonia without visiting this real gem.
If you like photography, Museum of Photography has a programme of events this month that make you wish you had bothered to learn Estonian — but the signs, notes, etc are in English. A great little museum where you can understand a lot about the Estonian cultural situation.
6) What if you like your art fine and have a bob or two to spend? Haus gallery in Tallinn old town has an auction on 30th. What can I say? Have a look at this catalogue and get that urgent email off to Father Christmas.
7) What if you just need a good laugh — and a sauna?
Heldeke! has a comedy night on Thursday, 29th. This evening is all in English. Dan, the chap who brings us the Heldeke bar-theatre, is an Aussie who has been here a few years. A lot of his youth was spent in theatre and circus and the intimate layout of this venue brings the big top to mind. Heldeke! is famous also for burlesque evenings having largely pioneered that art form in Estonia. There is also a sauna, billed as being Finnish style. Dan calls it “homestyle” which means you do as you would at home. So if you are in a mixed party, everyone goes in together. Wear nothing or wear something if you are shy. English people can sit on the floor. Do what is comfortable. Remember: the first rule of sauna club is that there are no rules in sauna club.
8) For something serious, the Museum of Occupations and Freedom is clearly one of the most important places to visit. It is serious but the exhibition there has a theme of recovery with different personal stories. The ground floor of the museum is dominated by a wonderfully playful sculpture, colourful and light — about balance. No special event this week for foreigners but, as always, there are electronic gadgets that guide you around in a whole variety of languages such as German, Spanish and French.
There are also two temporary exhibitions on at the moment: Valerio Vincenzo’s “BORDERLINE Frontiers of Peace” and Johanna Rannula’s “Siberian White: In Search of Bright Memories”.
9) Margus Bamberg’s exhibition at Pärnu Artists’ House on Nikolai street will open on the evening of 28th. It is not especially for foreigners because you do not get so many foreigners in Pärnu in winter, but Margus is said to be an anglophile, at least in terms of humour, and the Artists’ House is known to be very welcoming of foreigners. Art here is an adventure.