Smoking Hot Finnskogen – Part 3!

In between chit chatting about lake monsters and cultural heritage, we have been busy gathering a slightly unusual autumn harvest of mushrooms, lichens, leaves and discarded cyclone fences. The car and occasionally even May’s house have been stuffed with all of the above and our activities have seemed so peculiar that they’ve even peaked the interest of the local customs officer (from the Norwegian-Swedish border), who pulled over to check what exactly we were doing in the bushes by the road.

We have been huge fans of Sinikka Langeland since an exclusive kantele concert earlier this year in the chimneyless open hearth dwelling just over the Swedish border in Mattila. Sinikka took time to meet up again this week to talk about all things Finnskogen, Karelia, rune songs, Forest Finns and nature, all elements with a strong presence in Sinikka’s music. For her portrait, we wanted to convey the artist as a unifying force between these expressions and the woods around Svullrya presented us with a motherload of puffball mushrooms. Fungi are crucial connectors of life and death, past and present, and by eating death, they manage to create life. In fact, without fungi, the forest floor with Sinikka and Eyes as Big as Plates on it, would soon drown in dead plant matter. Røyksopp in Norwegian also translates as ’smoke mushroom’ and these puffballs were smoking like the grand act on the stage.

Our fourth collaborator this week is a keen fisherman, a third generation taxi driver, carpenter and a proud Forest Finn. Kyrre told us about some of the more mystical experiences connected to living in these forests and how the encounters have been part of his family for generations, without anybody making a big fuss about for example: Changing weather by slashing through the air with a knife, relieving pain with warm hands, seeing people from another time or world. Kyrre wished to be portrayed in an old rowan tree at his cabin with a nice view of the lake Helgen, just down the road from the Finnetunet Museum. We had also spotted an excellent heath a bit further up the same road, and concluded the morning shoot as the sun rose above the overstory.

So many new friends, impressions and adventures in one week, we can’t wait to be back in March! In the meanwhile, if you would like to give us a tip of a fabulous shoot location in Finnskogen, someone we should absolutely talk with, an especially beautiful rock/ tree/ beach/ snow drift, we would love to hear from you, please get in touch! And of course, feel free to share with us your favourite local myth or story by emailing a sound recording to

Thank you all! Until next time!

This catch took us half a day to collect, a perfectly excellent use of time and two pairs of sharp eyes. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
The catch had to be celebrated © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen


There’s nothing like an evening filled with puffballs, Lonkero and Sinikka’s latest musical piece ‘Sauna Cathedral’ on the radio © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
A big thank you to May for providing us with the loveliest HQ we could ask for! © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Nina Nordbø, a culture journalist from NRK, and her two search and rescue dogs Bonus and Jeppe joined us for Sinikka’s shoot. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
The puffballs and Sinikka took to the woods. We would like to bow twice in gratitude for the Kulblick Family, thank you for letting us cruise through your lands many times over, we were well smitten with those mossy Kælneset woods and bogs! © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Preparing for a snug puffy eyeball fit. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
The search for sunlight was intense in the dark forest, this darkness means tense times when focusing the good old Mamiya camera. © Nina Nordbø/NRK
Thank you to Nina for this rare documentation of the entire team in action © Nina Nordbø/NRK


A spot of stretching and old man’s beard-picking for Kyrre’s shoot © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Kyrre is an avid storyteller and a regular at the local co-op, so it was only right that we first bumped into each other while he was serving up anecdotes to the Joker staff. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Climbing towards the perfect view of lake Helgen © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Working position 1495 © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Moving onwards to the second shoot location with a trusted Toyota Corolla. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Final touches. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen
Kyrre was promptly hidden. The cardboard boxes in the background carried many Puffballs (Røyksopp), old man’s beard lichens, Cladonia stellaris (kvitkrull), Iceland moss (kruslav), Bryoria (brunskjegg)… many are now safely stored in a cosy Svullrya basement. © Karoline Hjorth & Riitta Ikonen


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