“You can never have too many family members”

Who are you?

Pia Bartsch, community artist at the Saari Residence.

How did you end up working for Kone Foundation?

In early 2012, I was writing the final report on the Turku European Capital of Culture 2011 from our Regional Committee Turku at theFinnish Threshold Association, a cross-disability organization, which focuses on the basic and human rights of persons with disabilities, when I received messages from friends, telling me that the Saari Residence was seeking applications for the post of community artist. They said that the post could more or less have been made for me. Of course, I decided to apply, but only just applied in time, borrowing a friend’s car to to bring the application all the way to the Residence’s post box myself. As I recall, only a few days had gone by when I was invited for an interview and I began work in just three weeks.

What do you do at the Foundation?

I work as a community artist at the Residence, creating works of art for installation in public places, together with locals and people from slightly further away. The artworks could be performances or celebrations, sculptures, videos or whatever else we come up with. We design and develop the work together with the participants. During the creation process, we can either agree or disagree, negotiate, inspire each other, and laugh or cry, but in most cases we are rather happy and proud at the end.

What is the best part of your work?

I get to meet people of all kinds and, due to the artistic process, such encounters are a thousand times more intensive than the usual how-are-you-I’m-fine types of encounter. As the work is created, we discuss much more than artistic issues – growing together and making the world a better place is easily the best part of the process.

And what is the most challenging thing?

The most challenging aspect lies in converting the experiences created during the process – while respecting them – at least partly into an artistic context, thereby reinforcing a deeper understanding of community art within the modern art setting.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

If I could choose a super power, I’d like to be able to perform magic, but I don’t know why.


Pia Bartsch, 57, is a community artist, construction drawer, silk printer and Master of Culture and Arts/photographer. She works as a community artist at the Saari Residence.

Pia has four adult children and five grandchildren. In her spare time, Pia reads, watches what she calls ‘stupid TV series’ and regularly ponders the meaning of life with her friends.

Motto: You can never have too many family members (from the Danish crime drama series, Dicte).