Oulu Courthouse, Oulu, Finland
Photos: Heikki Salmi / Kaari Photography
The artwork consists of shapes implemented on the walls of the courtrooms and waiting area, depicting flowing water and the reflections of light on its surface. The scale of the shapes varies from satellite views to enlarged close-ups.
The rear walls of the courtrooms are occupied by aerial views meandering rivers, tributaries and streams. On the walls of the waiting area, stylized close-ups of swirls and waves are portrayed, with the sun shimmering on their surfaces. All the shapes are photographed from the rivers of the area.
The shapes are executed with white gold leaf directly on the walls. Gilding is done by hand, including the application of priming and adhesive materials freely with a brush, resulting in a lively and variably reflective finish.
The artwork is visually subtle, almost ethereal in its presence. Different light sources create constantly changing reflections as the viewer moves through the space. Depending on the viewing angle, the shapes can appear either dark or brilliantly bright, or nearly blend into the background.
The idea of the artwork originated from Martin Luther King’s famous speech “I have a dream” from 1963. King, who was a tireless campaigner for equal civil rights, used the following metaphor in his speech, also found in the Bible: “…we are not satisfied and will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.” In a properly functioning legal state, equal rights extend everywhere and are within everyone’s reach. Like water flowing in streams and rivers, through seas and up into the clouds, returning as rain to the earth to continue its endless cycle. Historically, rivers have been significant pathways, giving rise to numerous cities along their banks. They have also been used as metaphors for spiritual transitions, the passage of time, change, and hope.