The seaside town of Haapsalu is an ideal location for tourists and visitors to enjoy art, music and the beach. The beautiful Episcopal Castle of Haapsalu is a hub of activity and entertainment. Overlooking the inlet in Haapsalu, the Fra Mare Hotel and Spa is framed by a forest and the water of the Baltic Sea. Fra Mare is a full facility with a state of the art spa and modern Finnish saunas, indoor and outdoor pools, a family friendly beach, and is located beside an international student hostel. A paved, lit bicycle and walking trail helps hotel guests to take daily walking or biking excursions into the charming town of Haapsalu.
A ten day summer art school pilot project in July, 2010 was held for people of Estonian heritage living outside of Estonia. The project was the culmination of an idea that was part of a follow-up discussion at the Välis Eesti Kongress held during the beginning of the Estonian song Festival in the summer of 2009. The Society of Estonian Artists in Toronto (EKKT) Vice President Elva Palo suggested that the increase in the Toronto artists’ association membership was in part due to the acceptance of artists of Estonian heritage who were outside of mainstream Estonian social life and perhaps who spoke little or no Estonian. She felt that because art served as a universal language, people with this special Baltic background have been able to connect with each other on the art scene at shows and meetings. EKKT has also been able to give scholarships to first year post secondary students thanks to generous donations and memorial funds left by Estonian art patrons.
Dr. Leili Utno, President of the Välis Eesti Ühing in Estonia helped orchestrate the Estonian realization of this idea and the first Summer Art School for International Estonians was completed July 7-17th in Haapsalu, Estonia. A set curriculum of painting and drawing classes were conducted by well known art teachers Anne Parmasto, Kaisa Puustak, and Tiiu Kuill during mornings and afternoons. Also included was glass engraving with Helena Orgla, an art history lecture with Dr. Jaak Kangilaski, and evening visits to the studios and homes of local Estonian artists such as Hillar Tatar and Erki Meister. Välis Eesti Ühing member Artur Laast provided a wealth of historical information about “castle culture” on our walking tours in downtown Haapsalu. Several art galleries were also visited including the Epp-Maria Kokkamägi and Evald Okas galleries right in downtown Haapsalu. Mrs. Aita Mölder was instrumental in organizing special get togethers and introducing our group to various aspects of the active Haapsalu art scene. Seeing glass blowing by Kai Koppel days before the Glass Festival was amazing.
The vigorous daily work days concluded with an art show at the Panorama Hall and second floor foyer of Fra Mare which was attended by Deputy Mayor Andreas Rahuvarm. The daily meals in the hotel dining room, the fabulous rejuvenation options available at the hotel’s holistic spa, and the warmth and hospitality of the local artists and guides made this trip a very worthwhile experience. Participants Hugo Valter-Silberberg, Anne Lepp, Richard Rieger, Christine Bulionis, Lea Vaher, Mare Rahkema, and Elva Palo all agreed that the summer art school should continue in the future to bridge contacts with Estonians world-wide with a home base in Estonia.
Haapsalu Ideal for Summer Art School