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Art-Arboretum´s "Towards the Granit" science & art exhibition

Eira Ainalinpää tells us about Finland's first International Geodiversity Day event, that took place in early August 2022, including a special artwork for Geodiversity Day.

Towards the Granit was celebrated 5–10 August 2022 at Art- Arboretum in northern Finland, with the event being held before the official International Geodiversity Day as the weather is often bad in October in northern Finland! Part of the event was out in the floral art garden, where the main artwork "Ordeal by Fire" was unveiled. The Ordeal by Fire artwork is dedicated to Geodiversity Day.

Art-Arboretum is a private place for natural science research, art working and species conservation. The vegetation of the place supports the well-being of the insects. When the event is outdoors, nature is more involved. The site owner and designer, Dr. Eira Ainalinpää, does research on butterflies’ soil contacts, the interactions of the bumblebees with plants, and sustainability research.

Art-Arboretum. Photo E. Ainalinpää, 2022

Despite the rainy summer, the opening day was sunny. Surveys showed we were joined by 239 bumblebees and 91 butterflies (1 Vanessa cardui, 5 Argynnis paphia, 1 Limenitis populi, 6 Polygonia c-album, 5 Aglais urticae, 68 Pieris napi, 1 Inachis io, 2 Heodes virgaureae, 2 Thymelicus lineola). You can imagine that there was quite a buzz and flapping of wings!

In the opening speech Eira Ainalinpää (Doctor of Arts and Master of Science) summed up her own experiences and observations of GEBart-project with a poem Granite Hearts. The poem tells how people view geodiversity. The rest of the exhibition took place in our very old rural building. There were 17 artworks by Eira Ainalinpää, including sculptures, photos, and a large installation. The artworks included four main themes: swamp; interactions between biodiversity and geodiversity; water (groundwater, precipitation fluctuations); and sustainability thinking.

Opening poem Granite Hearts in Finnish. Poem writer Eira Ainalinpää, 2022.

The event was opened by announcing the summer version of Ordeal by Fire. The artwork has been made in different weather conditions: sometimes it rained and hailed, and other times it was hot. When the artist made the winter version of the artwork last winter, it was -25 °C outside and there was only a little snow at first. Soon, however, it snowed a lot, 83 cm, so that the work almost disappeared in the winter. The creation of the work is linked to different seasons and in the end, these different views will be preserved as a 5-part photo series. The appearance of the seasons in the work emphasizes the temporal extent of nature loss and climate change. The artworks have the aspect of northern nature.

Dr. Eira Ainalinpää opening the event. Ordeal by Fire artwork -part summer is a large environmental artwork (about 5x3x2 meters), formed using stones, living and burned trees, and northern berries. Both winter and summer parts include “gates”. Gates describe options which people have to choose in order to survive the loss of nature and climate change. The use of both living and non-living material reflects the interaction of geo- and biodiversity. The work is dedicated to the world's first International Geodiversity Day. Photo E. Ainalinpää, 2022.

Scientific texts by researchers were also integrated into the art exhibition, with the public getting to know them in connection with the rest of the exhibition. The researchers included doctoral level writers from the fields of geography, education, art, and history. The subjects of the research included the protection of Finland's geodiversity; the use of natural resources and the risk of colonization in renewable energy; the environmental effects of mines on water quality and fish; and the interaction of geo- and biodiversity.

There is still wonderful nature in Finland, but part of it is disappearing at a high speed and many researchers are worried about this. Compared to many European countries, Finland is less sustainable - per person - it how it uses it's soil. It has already been estimated in 2015 that our good rock reserves will be finish up in 10-15 years. In some places this has already happened. With the taking of soil, the northern barren forest habitat also disappears. Almost already 80% of the barren forest has been lost in the last 50 years.

The Finnish barren forest habitat is disappearing by increasing land use. Photo E. Ainalinpää, 2022.

Art-Arboretums researches has shown that sandy areas are important for many butterflies in the cool northern regions of Finland. Some of the butterflies can spend long periods of time on the sand, which indicates that they are important for their well-being. At the local level, every person must take more care of both the non-living environment - geodiversity - and the living species - biodiversity.

The recent Art-Arboretums butterflies’ researches has shown that many butterflies stay on the sand for long periods of time. For example, this Polygonia c-album spent its time on the continuously and repeatedly almost three hours. Photo E. Ainalinpää 2022.

The event showed that geodiversity is a difficult and strange topic of discussion for the media, the public, and for some researchers. We have a difficult road ahead of us to change our perceptions of non-living nature. Too often geo- and biodiversity has been overshadowed in climate debates. Is it too late to hope for change? There is probably hope for humanity if it cherishes and listens to the needs of nature, including geodiversity.

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