Saastamoinen Foundation granted a one-million-euro funding for a residency programme for visual artists

Launched in 2015, the residency programme offers a unique opportunity for international residencies to artists who have graduated from Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts. The one-million-euro funding ensures the implementation of six residency programmes for a four-year period.

Meri Linna: Sticky floors, photo Jan van Eyck Academie

The Academy of Fine Arts has received a grant of one million euros from the Saastamoinen Foundation for an alumni residency programme aimed at visual artists, marking a continuation of the International Networks in Fine Arts partnership programme launched in 2015. The fully funded grants are awarded to six Academy of Fine Arts alumni annually. The duration of a residency ranges from three months to two years.

“Thanks to our exchange and degree students and faculty members, the Academy of Fine Arts is a lively international community. The Saastamoinen Foundation’s long-term funding ensures a key manner of facilitating the internationalisation and networking of Finnish visual artists already during their studies. Smooth cooperation and the continuous assessment and development of our operations together with the Foundation and the artist residencies, as well as the feedback from our students and alumni, guarantee that the residencies are relevant and well-functioning. Well-executed residency periods provide work experience, visibility, and relevant connections to the global art world for artists finishing their studies,” says Leevi Haapala, Dean of the Academy of Fine Arts.

The cooperation between the Saastamoinen Foundation and the Academy of Fine Arts aims to strengthen the internationalisation of fine arts in various ways.

“For visual artists, artist residencies offer important opportunities for professional development and networking. The Saastamoinen Foundation wants to support international residency grants that provide high-quality support from organisations and an excellent international community of artists,” describes Marja Karttunen, member of the Saastamoinen Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Alumni residency jury members, curators Sona Stepanyan and Rosa Lleo will visit the Josefina Nelimarkka exhibition with Marja Karttunen in spring 2024. Photo by Sade Kahra.

With this funding, the residency programme continues with four alumni residencies: the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York, the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) and the sculpture residency in Scotland. In addition, a funding option for the Rijksakademie van beeldene kunsten residency organisation is guaranteed. A sixth residency option will be announced later in autumn 2024.

The residencies offer Finnish visual artists an opportunity to work abroad and network with other residency artists and fine arts professionals. The residency selection committees bring international experts to Finland every year to familiarise themselves with the Academy of Fine Arts, the work of its alumni, and the visual arts scene in Finland.

The Dutch Jan van Eyck Academie has been one of the alumni residencies since the establishment of the partnership programme. Located in Maastricht, the JvE Academie boasts a multidisciplinary and diversified approach, and annually over 40 artists and researchers work under its residency for a period of eleven months.

Director Hicham Khalidi describes the collaboration that has soon spanned a decade:

“A sticky floor, beautiful pencil drawings of branches, multisensory sculptures made of materials that disintegrate over time, a sci-fi video featuring a bog body: the Finnish participants selected for a JvE residency supported by the Saastamoinen Foundation since 2015 have always surprised us.”

“Grateful for the long-term collaboration with the Saastamoinen Foundation and Uniarts Helsinki, the Jan van Eyck Academie looks back on and forward to a fruitful partnership in which we jointly hold artistic research in high regard, giving it the time and space it needs to develop, unfold and thrive,” Khalidi summarises.

The Canadian Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) was added as an alumni residency partner in 2019. The three-month alumni residency offers unique equipment and support for experimental filmmaking as well as a chance to explore Toronto’s urban culture, which is one of the global hubs of filmmaking. LIFT’s residency director Chris Kennedy comments on the programme as follows:

“On the first day, a resident usually walks into the space and realises that there is a lot more possibilities than they initially thought and begin to develop their projects accordingly. Their day-to-day engagement with our staff and local filmmakers further transforms their projects. By the end of their stay, they have developed a project that has surpassed their initial expectations.”

“Artists who have joined us for this residency have left a strong mark on LIFT and our community. Their eagerness to engage with local filmmakers and their ability to see (and film) the city with the excited eyes of an outsider create a special energy that boosts our own work,” states Kennedy.