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Born to Pirkkala

Installations of old photographs and objects,
Pirkkala municipality's Galleria 2, Pirkkala, Finland 2021


My exhibition Born to Pirkkala was shown in Pirkkala municipality's Galleria 2 in June 2021 when the corona situation eased up and the public was again allowed to visit the gallery. The exhibition was the first part of a retrospective exhibition series to the places where I have lived during my mobile life: Pirkkala, Imatra, Helsinki, Kuopio, Cape Town.

Pirkkala municipality produced a video document of the exhibition, compiled by Rami Marjamäki. On the video I tell about my birth and early childhood ashore Pirkkala's waters. I introduce enlarged photos of my family as well as my childhood toys and utensils together with textiles made by women of the family.

The Pirkkalainen newspaper's issue no. 2.6.2021 (pp. 20-21) includes an article by the journalist Maija-Riitta Merikanto about my exhibition.

1. Vehicle

My father Toivo Kekki was born in 1921 in Antrea on the Carelian Isthmus. He was wounded in 1944 in Povenets when grenade shard in the temple, but survived narrowly. He lost his ability to speak, but later learnt to speak again. The legend goes that my father carried my mother on bicycle rack to Tampere to give birth to me.

2. Born to Pirkkala

I was born on 24 August 1949 as the second child in the family, my big brother was born a year earlier. The photo is the first one about me, taken in a photographer's studio. The temperament can be seen already in the picture: curiously getting under way.

3. Water plays

As adults hustled in the washing beach, we children played on shore. I am wearing the flower dress of the previous photo, until the clothes were taken off. In the pictures my friend Riitta, her elder sister as the baby-sitter and my brother Kari, in the last photo also my little sister Maija who was born in 1951.

4. The bathtub and its buddies

A bathtub was used to wash both children and laundry. Buckets acted as water, sauna, washing and sewage buckets. Washbowls and potties were also important gadgets.

5. Big brother, daddy and me

My big brother Kari was already playing with daddy when I was a baby. As a peaceful character my brother later took care of me since since I was quit a whirlwind. Mommy dressed us prettily at least for photographs. A bow tie was every girl's mandatory decoration in those times.

6. Barring water

Jam, juice and water receptacles were needed in abundance in the 50s -luvulla as well as many sorts of caps.

7. Soup and coffee

Everyday enamel vessels and tin cans as well as a cute creamer.

8. The family grows

The stylish family with two children grew up to a three-child one when my little sister Maija was born. In a winterly photo Maija in prams, myself in the middle and my godmother Paula on the right. My mother took the picture. The third photo looks like spring, I am wiggling in bangs on daddy's lap.

9. Heirlooms

My parents were given as wedding gifts a blue-patterned Arabia dinnerware, goblets and some more everyday kitchenware. I ”excelled” by breaking especially coffee cups.

10. Young families

Our whole family in sunshine: Kari, Maija, me, mommy and daddy. In the second photo we pose together with an acquaintance family, their baby in the prams. I am on the left in a ”potty hairdo”, Maija, Kari, mommy and daddy on the right. Place unknown.

11. Mother's teddy bear

Until the end as mommy's buddy.

12. Children's plays

My grandmothers sewed, knitted and weaved mats. Grandma Alma's button box was my best toy, she digged it up from the wooden settee when I was in her custody. Grandma Beata knitted mittens with a model of her own and diligently cut carpet wefts. All my grandparents were artisans, granda Uuno a bricklayer and grandpa Heikki a tile oven maker among other things. Heikki was also a "Gyro Gearloose" who conceived fanciful widgets.

13. Threads

I could not avoid sewing but made my cloth by myself from a teenager onwards, getting the likes I wanted. Woollen cloths too were getting shape in my own hands, I was also making gifts to others. Doing by hands seems to go in genes.

14. Red yarns and flax

Even lace crocheting is not unfamiliar, it had to be learned in grammar school. As well as to make a needlework excercise book, I got the highest mark on it. Crocheting I have not practiced since, but rougher materials still interest me.

15. A seamster's treasures

Grandma Alma hid her sewing props in a stool that interested me a lot already as a child. Beautiful patches of cloth, laces and ribbons were found therein.

16. Flowery trousseau

Grandma Alma sewed and embroidered trousseau to my mother as was the custom then.

17. Grandma's dressing gown

Grandma made cloths for herself too. I greatly admired this satiny, flowery dressing gown. Resembles the future Marimekkos, said the photograper.

18. White laundry (trousseaux)

The bedsheets' laces were carefully crocheted and the monograms embroidered by my grandma when Eila Heinonen became Eila Kekki. My mother's family roots are in Asikkala, but she was living in Helsinki's Vallila for part of her childhood and all her adolescence.

19. Memory carpet

I have woven a memory carpet of wefts cut from memorable cloths of my grandparents, parents and family. A scrubbing brush and pine soap have been used for carpet washing ever since childhood.


Old photographs from Eila and Toivo Kekki's family album

Photo magnification by Dialab, Helsinki

Objects from the stocks of the Kekki and Korpela families