It is a pretty intensive programme and I haven't decided all of the sessions I will go to yet. But I will see how the day pans out. First I will set the scene
I arrived at the conference hotel yesterday afternoon. It is called Hanaholmen/Hanasaari (Swedish and Finnish names for the same place) which is a cultural and conference centre and hotel which has been recently refurbished. It is not actually Helsinki as I though but in a town called Espoo, and when I say in a town, it is in a wooded small peninsula just off a motorway with nothing around for miles. But I am not complaining as the setting is beautiful - although the frozen sea could be a field, a park or anything else covered by a layer of snow and ice - well there are some reeds poking out which is a giveaway to its lakeside nature.
The building itself looks a bit grim from the outside, modernist and blocky I guess but inside it is warm and inviting. It is a bit like a Nordic Premier Inn but with lovely fabrics, little corners to sit, artworks both paintings and small sculptures and fireplace corners. I guess it is hygge as we have come to know it in the UK as well, cosy, homely, welcoming. There is also a sauna and swimming pool which I have seen but not really investigated as yet - it looks lovely too. And the food so far has been great - lots of salads, cold meats and pickles
I was travelling with my friend and colleague Lia Ghilardi and went for a walk around the hotel. It is cold and snowy but strangely, not as cold as it was last week in Norfolk. The hotel is cosy anyway and we had a brief glimpse of a very red sky - I was hopeful that we might get a showing of the Northern Lights but it was so quick I guess it was just a sunset.
The conference is organised by an organisation called Metropolis/Kopenhagens Internationale Theatre who are based in Copenhagen and run an annual festival amongst other activities. They are artists who work in the urban space, with interventions of art and performance, often on a grand scale, always exciting and original ideas. Their director Trevor Davies is English originally but has worked in Denmark since is early twenties. There are several of his team members here and it is really nice to meet them as they are also part of the In SITU network so we have some friends in common via Norfolk & Norwich Festival.
There are around 100 delegates here and actually almost as many speakers. The programme gives a number of keynote speeches to a plenary audience and then a choice of 4 types of workshop on the themes of: Policies, Strategies and Mapping; Participation, engagement and Activism; Artistic practice and Urban Transformation; Temporary and Instant Urbanism. They are about an hour long so that's three in an afternoon - a lot of choice for each theme. You can see the workshop summaries here.
I'll let you know tomorrow how I got on, and load up some more pics too
From a snowy Finland!