Arja Välimäki
Arja Välimäki

Upcoming Exhibition at Art2Muse Gallery 2 – 15 April 2019


Ocean Forest

Ocean Forest investigates intersections between the forests of Finland and the oceans of Australia. These two countries in which I reside, at the far ends of the world, are at once opposite and alike in their landscape and culture. From forests to oceans, lakes to arid land, snow to heat, I deeply love both countries, their people, and their nature.

I grew up in Finland with forests and have had the ocean as part of my daily life for a long time now, forming my great appreciation for both. I used to swim in the ocean almost every day until I had an accident in 1995, only two years after I migrated to Australia. I had stepped on a stingray, a very painful encounter that left me limping for eight years and crippled me with a fear of the ocean. Fear is a real, beautiful and a normal human experience, however I one day hope to overcome my phobia to again enjoy the ocean’s water beyond standing in the shallows. The majestic forests of Finland scare me somewhat too. I have often felt the presence of a large animal, a bear or a moose perhaps. I used to go deep into the forest to collect berries with my family and we would always make lots of noise to scare away possible predators.

Through expressive application of thick acrylic paint, this body of abstract paintings explores my personal experiences as a Finnish migrant in Australia, especially my encounters with the underwater world and landscape, and my appreciation for the beauty of nature.” – Arja Välimäki

Finnish born, Arja Välimäki is an Australian based artist, who starts her daily practice with a coastal walk where she finds an exultant connection to nature. She draws her inspiration from the microscopic details, the natural world and bird’s eye views of the landscape. Arja’s daily practice is reflected in her abstract interpretation of the way she feels when in nature. She absorbs the details and patterns that the water and sea life leave behind on the sand and rocks. The vivacious arrangements that emerge in Arja’s paintings can be interpreted as microscopic images, flora and fauna or photos taken from space.

Practicing since the mid-1990s, Arja has completed her BFA and MFA at the University of NSW, Sydney. She has exhibited widely in both Australia and Finland, including sixteen solo exhibitions. She has been a finalist in the prestigious Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW; Sculpture by the Sea, Sydney; Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, Campbelltown Arts Centre and the Sydney Living Museums Meroogal Women’s Art Prize. Arja has won numerous awards and grants, including a scholarship to study her MFA. Arja was also named 2004 Young Kalevala Artist of the Year, Finland.

Arja Välimäki’s works are held in public and private collections in Australia, Finland, Hong Kong and UK.



2003  Masters of Fine Arts, The University of NSW, College of Fine Arts
1999 Bachelor of Fine Arts, The University of NSW, College of Fine Arts

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2018   Ocean Forest, Art2Muse Gallery, Sydney
2017   Nordic Taiga, Art2Muse Gallery, Sydney
2016   Asia Contemporary Art Show, Hong Kong
2015   Natural Vibrations, Embassy of Finland, ACT
2014   Natural Rhythms, Wollongong Regional Art Gallery
2005   Planting Feet, Wollongong Regional Art Gallery
2004   Sampo – matka – Kalevala – installaatio, Juminkeko, Finland
2003   Sampo: Kalevala and my journey, Kudos Gallery, Sydney
2002   Paljastus, Wollongong Regional Art Gallery
2000   Arja Välimäki: 1999 Resident Artist, Wollongong Regional Art Gallery
1996   Out of a Suitcase, Long Gallery, University of Wollongong

Selected Group Exhibitions

2017   OOTI, NSW Parliament House
2017   Feast, Belconnen Arts Centre, ACT
2015   Affordable Art Fair, Hong Kong
2015   OOTI, NSW Parliament House
1999-2018   Various Group Exhibitions at Wollongong Regional Art Gallery
2011   Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, Campbelltown Arts Centre
2014-08 Meroogal Women’s Arts Prize, Sydney Living Museums, The Mint
2004   Masters of COFA 2004, Ivan Dougherty Gallery
2004   Sculpture by the Sea
2003   17th Liverpool City Arts Prize 2003, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre
2002   The Wynne Prize Finalist, AGNSW
2000-02   frisson, 14th Tamworth Fiber Textile Biennial, Tamworth City Gallery

Selected Grants and Prizes

2017   Handlers Prize: Thirroul Art Prize
2014   Highly Commended: Meroogal Women’s Arts Prize, Sydney Living Museums
2011 and 2009 Second Prize: Meroogal Women’s Arts Prize, Sydney Living Museums
2010   First Prize: Lingua Loca: Stories from Sea and Land
2007   The Bundanon Trust Regional Artist in Residence Scholarship (Arthur Boyd)
2004   Juminkeko’s Young Kalevala – Artist of the Year, Kuhmo, Finland
2001   Scholarship to study Masters of Fine Arts, UNSW
2000   Research Grant, The University of NSW, College of Fine Arts
1999   One Year: Artist in Residence of Wollongong Art Gallery
1996   NSW Ministry of the Art Multicultural Activities Program

Public Collections

Foreign Minister of Finland, Consulate General, Hong Kong
Embassy of Finland, Canberra
Juminkeko, (Kalevala and Karealisim Exhibition Centre), Finland
Wollongong Art Gallery – 3 works
From 1997   Private collections in Australia and worldwide

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