While driving towards northern Karelia, still within the Finnish border, I stop the car in Rautjärvi on the bridge that crosses the Hiitola river. Only eight kilometres away from the border, Hiitola river flows into the heart of Karelia, lake Ladoga, where my ancestors lived.
When 400,000 people were forced to leave their homes in just a few days, a culture was torn from the landscape in which it had grown. The fleeing Karelians took with them only the most necessary possessions; all that could be carried by hand. After resettling in unfamiliar places throughout Finland, these items were the only heritage of their lamented homeland.
I travelled to Finland over four seasons to look for my heritage and to gather stories that represent the cherished memory of Karelia. My series captures a utopian landscape; Karelia as it is remembered by the evacuees.
Karelia: An area straddling the southern half of the Finnish-Russian border. Long held to be a place which embodied the Finnish national spirit, its outstanding natural beauty, traditions of singing, folk tales and mythologies inspired many great national artistic works of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. It was surrendered to Russia under the Moscow Peace Treaty of 1940.