Bildmuseet, Umeå University, Sweden

The Unhappy Artist

Self-Portrait based methods as promoters of an artist's well-being at work

Workshop led by Vesa Aaltonen, Mervi Herranen and Ilona Tanskanen in cooperation with Arts Promotion Centre Finland/Branch office of South-Western Finland and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health
January - April 2013
In the work group: Kaisa Adair, Taina Erävaara, Pia Houni
Participants: 22 local artists and lecturers (personnel of the Arts Academy)

The goal of ‘The Unhappy Artist’ project was to:

  • generate well-being at work among the artists, artists’ instructors and arts teachers working in Turku and the region of South-Western Finland;
  • provide the personnel and students of Turku University of Applied Sciences with tools and skills with which to improve well-being at work and to plan and implement workshop activities;
  • improve the readiness of the personnel and students of Turku University of Applied Sciences for multi-professional work concerning well-being at work in the fields of art and culture;
  • develop self-portrait based methods and advance their use in work communities;
  • pilot and create a work model for the target group-specific customisation of workshops.

The workshop participants had home assignments on self-portraits and autobiographical writing. They took part in two seminars on well-being at work and three different workshops:

  • Ilona Tanskanen: Autobiographical writing in the context of work
  • Vesa Aaltonen: Photography workshop: Me as me and me at work
  • Mervi Herranen: Work counselling based on pictures and photographs

All the participants also produced a small book combining photographed self-portraits and autobiographical texts in the format of Haiku or Tanka. In collaboration with the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health Arts Academy, a questionnaire was made for participants on their well-being at work and collected feedback from the workshops for further development.