Saari Residence


Saari Residence’s Open House Day highlighted non-human species

Photos: Jussi Virkkumaa

The Saari Residence opened its doors to the public on the 25th of May. Despite the hot weather, the event attracted almost 350 visitors who had the opportunity to explore the many aspects of non-human species’ lives in the Saari area.

Homes for birds and new perspectives on birdwatching

The workshop organised by the Mynämäki Region Nature Conservation Association was buzzing, with a total of almost 50 new birdhouses built during the day. Every birdhouse builder got to take their creation home for new feathered residents to build a home in.

Artist and writer Camille Auer led members of the audience on queer bird walks, introducing them to a completely new perspective on these winged animals. The tours took place in the surroundings of the manor house and the participants used binoculars to observe birds, while Auer shared facts about her norm-critical research on them. She explained her observations about the way the norms humans attach to gender and sexuality affect the way we look at birds and the world in general. During the walk, Auer and the participants discussed the diversity of gender and sexuality among birds and from the perspective of birds.

Workshop on rare insects

The Saari Residence’s community artist Pia Bartsch ran a workshop inspired by biologist Roni Seppä’s master’s thesis. In the art studio of the barn, people drew rare insects found in the Saari area, using photographs as models. The end result was 60 stunning drawings. The original drawings will be used to create an art book that will become part of the residence’s ecological library. 

Bearers of the traditional landscape

The open house day gave visitors the opportunity to meet the sheep and cows that take care of the protected cultural landscape of Saari. The Saari Residence’s neighbour, grower and sheep farmer Säde Aarlahti, talked to the visitors about her sheep that maintain the landscape in the pasture near the residence’s stone barn. Farmer Katariina Vapola talked about the Aberdeen Angus mother cows and calves that graze the seaside meadows and their importance to the area’s landscape management.

Kone Foundation is committed to protecting the nationally valuable environment of the Saari Manor. One key way to preserve landscape biodiversity is to manage traditional habitats, as without management, traditional biotopes may become overgrown. Grazing is one way of conserving and restoring valuable traditional biotopes as part of agricultural production. Grazing animals use the nutrients they eat for growth and milk production, which depletes the soil and enriches the vegetation. Sheep, cows or horses are the most commonly used grazing animals, and the landscape of the Saari Manor is currently managed by sheep and cows.

Saari Residence’s Alumni, visual artist Vesa-Pekka Rannikko’s video animation Rat and Border Dog was shown in the medieval basement of the main building.  It is a poetic story of a human-made zone, but without humans. Vocalist Sarah Albu, a Saari Alumni, is in charge of the soundscape of this poetic and beautiful work.   

Lectures on the Saari area’s insects and biocultural heritage

Biologist Roni Seppä presented the results of a species survey conducted in cooperation with the University of Turku. In the lecture, Seppä explained the potential impact of the woodland grazing of livestock on insect species and biodiversity. Rare, very rare and endangered insect species have been found in the area, and only one percent of the sample are invasive species. Insect species that are critically endangered include Nabis punctatus A. Costa, Hylochares cruentatus, Squamapion vicinum and Ocypus aeneocephalus.  The aim of the species survey was to get an overview of the biodiversity of the area and to monitor the impact of new grazing on biodiversity in specific test areas. 

Landscape architect Eveliina Kunnaton talked about her master’s thesis for the Aalto University on the biocultural heritage of the Saari Residence area.  Biocultural heritage refers to biodiversity that has evolved through the interaction and interdependence between humans and nature over a long period of time. Biocultural heritage provides a holistic framework for examining the value of historic parks and gardens, revealing their interdependencies and inconsistencies. It recognises historic parks and gardens as a living, changing and diverse heritage.

Bee Company and the Culture Trail outdoor exhibition

The Open House Day also saw the opening of the Bee Company’s Culture Trail exhibition set in the coastal landscape of the Mietoistenlahti bay, which the Bee Company will add to over the summer. The Culture Trail was designed collaboratively within the project Mietoistenlahti – Experiences in Nature for Everyone by Kone Foundation’s Saari Residence for artists and the Nature Conservation Association of the Mynämäki Region. This recreational route is almost half a kilometre long and displays contemporary art.

On the Open House Day, the Bee Company organised a Grassroots Market, similar to the one at Tullisaari in Helsinki. It featured their previous works as well as the themes related to the Culture Trail. The audience could, among other things, lie in bed under the apple trees while listening to the audio Working women’s rest home (Työssäkäyvien naisten lepokoti) and plant summer flowers for the Culture Trail together with the artists.