top of page

Henna Asikainen - thoughts

Open Door residency

I really enjoyed what was an inspirational and wonderful weekend in a beautiful setting and supported by a great group of artists.   As I’m sure happened to all of us I have been almost overwhelmed by ideas and the possibilities the place and the opportunity have opened up.

Out of all of these potential projects one in particular has surfaced in a way that I would be interested in developing with ACA. 

It occurred to me during the weekend that ACA with its tangible and metaphorical connection to what’s above and what’s below (through the observatory and the history of lead mining in Allenheads) would offer a particularly poignant context in which to develop a concept that I have considered for some time.  Tentatively called ‘Omen’ the project is shaped around molybdomancy - a traditional divining practice from the ancient world that is still regularly used in Finland.  A piece of ‘tin’ (some kind of white metal alloy) in the shape of a horseshoe is melted in a pan over an open fire or flame and the liquid metal poured into a bucket of cold water. The violent interaction of the two materials generates extraordinary contorted shapes which are seen to embody an omen for the future.  The molybdomancer rotates the metal casting to create shadows by the light of a candle which are then interpreted. 


Over the years I have been saving my New Year tins. These individual, fragile, intricate, miniature sculptures are enchanting. It is hard not to be charmed by the hope, certain mystery and prophecy these miniature sculptures embody -  personal to each of their makers. 


Miners work underground in a world of darkness and shadows and the industry was always known for its superstitions and beliefs – glimpses of other worlds caught in wavering shadows, the remnants of creatures found carbonised, fossilised, held in time.  These beliefs and encounters gave birth to omens and prophesies (as well as traditions of reading the signs of the skies for weather that might halt work) all resonate poignantly with the project and provide rich material to research and weave into the work.

The interpretive, molybdomantic, element of the project in my mind connects with the lives of the miners, with alchemists, soothsayers, wise women and astronomers in fact with everyone who dares to dream, to hope.

bottom of page