On her own path
Portrayal of the Marimekko woman by photojournalist Meeri Koutaniemi and artist Paula Vesala.
Throughout its history, Marimekko has encouraged women to be themselves and walk their own path. Our spring/summer 2017 collection is dedicated to courageous women.
In 2017 we are bringing together two Finnish women known for their courage and strong professional integrity: photojournalist Meeri Koutaniemi and artist Paula Vesala. We can see their joint portrayal of the courageous Marimekko woman through the lens of Koutaniemi and read their personal reflections on courage and following their own path.
In the first Koutaniemi-Vesala photos, Marimekko's bold pattern design is represented by Annika Rimala's Tasaraita (even stripe) from 1968. Rimala created the pattern for Marimekko as a symbol for the era of unisex, a stripe of equality for everyone regardless of age or gender.
Video: Silja Minkkinen
Women on their own path
Meeri Koutaniemi is an internationally award-winning photographer and journalist whose work focuses on social phenomena around the world. She is especially known for her breathtaking photo reportage and views on women's rights.
Paula Vesala is a Finnish cutting-edge artist known in particular as a singer, songwriter and actor. At the moment, she is studying playwriting at the University of California. Vesala is a musical visionary who has always had the courage to cross boundaries and listen to her heart in everything she has done.
Meeri's and Paula's thoughts on courage
Meeri: Enjoy your life. Here in Finland, we have the most equal opportunities in life in the world, and this should be evident in the quality of our lives and in our freedom to act. We can afford to turn our gaze away from ourselves and do things that have a positive echo around the world. I encourage us to challenge our comfort zone and take action to relieve the need and distress that millions of women and children are experiencing at the moment. Peace and freedom, which we hold to be self-evident, are only a dream elsewhere in the world.
Paula: I urge us to stick together and recognise each other's good ideas, unique Finnish characteristics, talent, skill and courage. I believe that it always pays to look a bit further than tomorrow and imagine new worlds. And we shouldn't be afraid of failure. We can learn from innovators, and so change the world.
Meeri: I was about 16 when I decided how to combine art with political activism in my future career. I chose to follow my own passion with no certainty of success. After every failure, I've tried again. Later, stimulating discussion of social issues and sharing inspirational survival stories became the cornerstones of my work. You can always ask for help and you should remember to respect the people who teach you - they can be anyone you encounter. I am grateful to my family for the support and inspiration that has been the most important signpost on my path.
Paula: I've always wanted to look forward and let other people analyse the past. However, there's one thing I can and want to say from the bottom of my heart: I am the product of the Finnish welfare state. Free education and - at least in my childhood - music schooling affordable to a single parent of five, free libraries, and dedicated art teachers have all been important to me. Without these, it would have been difficult to achieve what I've achieved.
My path has been filled with lots of work and byways, many wonderful encounters, and gratitude on my way to a yet unknown destination.