New ZealandView Artist
by Aaron Glasson
Estonia – June 2017
This mural was painted as part of Mextonia Festival, an extraordinary project in Estonia curated by our good friends at Nueve Arte Urbano that utilizes public art to reinvigorate the country’s indigenous heritage.
My painting on the Estonian Marine Authority facing Kumu Kunsti Museum is about Kihnu, an Island to the south of Estonia that has a long and delicate relationship with the sea and outside world.
Kihnu is regarded as one of the world’s last remaining matriarchal societies. Its economy is reliant on the island’s men, who spend most of their time fishing in the Baltic Sea. Kihnu women work in the fields, raise the children, and essentially run the island. They’re also responsible for passing down centuries-old traditions to the island’s younger generations such as song, dance, and their colorful symbolic weaving. While many of Estonia's indigenous cultures were lost during the centuries of occupations and invasions, Kihnu persevered. The mural depicts three Kihnu women during summer the solstice which happened this past week. The central figure is Kihnu Virve a well-known folk singer from the Island; another looks on at the summer solstice tradition of burning a boat while one levitates within a double helix of herring.
The concept is that like countless other island societies Kihnu is intertwined with the sea and dependent on a healthy marine eco-system for its survival. There are many external factors such as industrial fishing, pollution and climate change that threaten Kihnu's endurance into the future. Ocean conservation not only concerns the sea. It's also about the preservation of cultures, livelihoods, and ultimately the preservation of (wo)mankind.