"The sky is higher here close to the sea"

Jonas Wilén

The artist Jonas Wilén goes against the flow. While many inhabitants of Eckerö go to work in the city in the morning he leaves his children in the kindergarten in Mariehamn and drives to his studio in Överby in Eckerö. In this village he was brought up, surrounded by a creative and energetic family.

-It was a good environment with a lot of tools and materials, and we could run free, says Jonas.

- Like the time we needed a driving wheel because we were about to put a chainsaw engine on a snow racer, and sawed a piece of oak to pieces that our grandfather meant to use for a reading desk for the church. I don’t even think we were punished.

What becomes of you with such an up-bringing? An artist, perhaps. -Thanks to my uncle Tage, who is an artist, I quickly got an insight into the profession. I spent a lot of time in his studio and loved the feeling, the smells, and the impressions. Since 1992 Jonas makes a living of his art: everything from book and advertisement illustrations to official decorations. One of his latest commission works is the new children’s room on Eckerö Linjen’s m/s Eckerö. - It was a fun task where I was allowed to work freely on the concept of pirates. Now the floor and the walls are covered with a Southern Ocean environment, and the pirate ship lies in the middle. The purpose is to discover new details every time you look.

Now he wants to work grandly after the years with his small children which has meant nice and small illustration works. - To paint is a completely different thing. It gives you something physical back, a kick which is therapeutic. Luckily two Alandian schools have ordered paintings from me. In one of them, Ytternäs School in Mariehamn, the oldest child will start in the fall.

- At the risk of sounding corny; Åland is a fantastic place to live and grow up in, a safe society, unbelievably good kindergartens and everything is served for you.

Jonas Wilén has just opened a small gallery in the city. But the studio in Eckerö is still his favourite place to paint: it is a rebuilt workshop hall with stains of paint on the floor boards, brushes and pens in different places and hundreds of paintings made with various techniques along the floor and the walls. He looks around. -This place is mentally important to me. When I come here I feel safe, I feel like I’m in a bubble, and I know everything comes to me, he says.
- Sure, I can long for different views, But Eckerö has its own appeal. When I drive over the bridge of Marsund the sky shifts in colour and the light becomes brighter, it opens upwards. I think it’s because of the sea. Jonas Wilén has made the illustrations to ”Discover Eckerö”.
He gladly shows his studio for visitors: Ph. +358 (0)457 34 25 969.