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Art born from the past with substance use

First there was a poem and the poem was inside Riikka-Lea Putkuri (48). Via the hand that moved the paintbrush colours and forms were born from the poem. The creating of the paintings was also a journey of the mind, which travelogue is now presented on the walls of café Runda Munken in Loviisa. The exhibition is a story of a life change progressing from a painting to a painting.

I first met Putkuri about four years ago, when she was on the verge of life transformation. Now we are talking at her exhibition that was opened two days ago. During the passed time Putkuri has made a long journey to become a person she was meant to be from the start. An isolated childhood and also life with substance use that started at a very early age and continued for long had left many things out from life.

– I started to drink at an early age and used substances heavily for 33 years. In addition to that I had a very traumatic childhood. Only now after getting sober I have been able to address things that happened then. The result of all this was something that should have not existed. I have been an extremely broken person.

Putkuri wanted to step forward, leave everything behind and have a courage to become whole and seize the opportunities. She didn´t want to live all her life as a person dealing with substance use because life offers so much more. An all-encompassing work for recovering started.

Writing has been an important tool on the journey to change. Putkuri tells that she writes almost every day. About twenty thick notebooks have been filled in four years. In addition to that she is writing a blog, and a book about her life is being worked on. During the past year she has published stories also here in Webarena (VerkkoAreena).

The poetry becomes colours and froms

Putkuri tells that she has had no previous painting studies. The pictures are born when feelings get locked out. The work has been peculiar: the poems were painted into pictures.

– I walked to the shop and bought a set of colours. I had no intention to paint something for an exhibition. Those pictures were related to the process of growth and becoming whole. I just started to paint pictures out of me.

Next to each painting at the exhibition, there is the poem that has become a painting.

At the opening of the exhibition she found her roots

Riikka-Lea Putkuri tells that thanks to this exhibition she has become whole and visible. Both distant relatives and unknown people have shown up at the opening.

– I found my roots this summer. It was extremely important for me that my relatives, and especially my son, were there at the day of the opening.

– The atmosphere of the opening was open-minded, caring, deeply loving and moving. 34 people created a dizzy emotional vibe and the day got its depth. They brought to me a huge gift of love and caring. They made the opening memorable and precious. A thousand thanks to them for this.

The most touching for the mother was a message from the son, young man.

– I got the biggest gift. My son sent me a message: “I tell you the secret, everybody stumbles, but then life continues. I have the responsibility to stay next to my mother, to help her stay on the surface. Now I have to take that step, to dance against the shadows. Though it might seem difficult to understand, there are people here who care about you. You are important, mother. I am proud of you.”

Putkuri says that after that message the exhibition shrank and only the words of the son had meaning.

Riikka-Lea Putkuri emphasizes also that by being open she wants to help others who are living in similar situations. The change is possible. There is hope.

The exhibition is open until the 30th September 2017, in café Runda Munken in Loviisa.

The stories written by her in VerkkoAreena:  Kuinka menee Elli Aaltonen?  Kurjan kirjan päivä

Text and video on VerkkoAreena: Vesa Vattulainen

Translation: Vivika Maar

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