An interesting take on the public/private divide

On P and H's last morning, we visited Regatta once again, and passed by an absolutely thronging Sibelius monument. There were at least 8 coaches in total parked on the two roads that run on either side of Sibelius Park. Many were obviously straight off a cruise ship, given the signs in the windows of the buses and various signboards that were being held up to make sure people didn't get back on the wrong bus. Hideous, I have to say. I took a few pictures of tourists taking pictures (a) of the monument (rather few), (b) of their friends (or themselves) with the monument in the background), (c) of their friends standing next to (and frankly in the personal space of) an excellent violinist/busker (and in some cases taking such pictures without putting any money in his violin case which I think is a shocking liberty), and (d) frankly just taking pictures of their friends, and themselves, randomly in a great throng around the monument without any real appreciation of where they were. I have to say if that were my only experience of the monument, I'd be giving it a massive body swerve. But of course, we have been lucky enough to visit it in so many different weather conditions, busy and quiet, all different times of the day. So that's bound to provoke a jaundiced view.

A few steps beyond the monument, the other side of Mechelinkatu, the usual Sunday morning peace of Helsinki was restored. We headed down by tram to Glass Palace, and visited HAM where we were - all four of us - a bit disappointed by the street art exhibition. However, I did find this one exhibit quite thoughtprovoking, in particular in the light of the human throng I'd witnessed just previously at the Sibelius Monument. People who visit the exhibition are invited to borrow a "private space" kit, comprising a holdall containing four cones, some tape and a stool, and to take it outside for an hour and to set up their own private space in the middle of the public space of the city, and then to occupy it for whatever purpose pleased them (e.g. to read, or just to sit, or to eat a picnic). I wonder if anyone's actually done it in Helsinki, and filmed the results. The three video screens behind were running the results of the installation being applied in other cities. It would, I think, be very interesting to take one of these holdalls up to the Sibelius Monument and to set it up in the early morning before the hoards of cruise ship tourists arrive (and that would mean setting up **really** early) and then film how people react to it when they arrive. I suspect that quite a few of the East Asian tourists would simply incorporate the installation into their frenzy of self-taking. And it wouldn't be a very private space for very long.

P and H are off to the airport now. They've quite a long journey home - changing at Schiphol and then a two hour drive back north into the depths of Argyll. Hope they get home safely. It was lovely to see them again. I do miss Scotland!

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