Vanha Särestö is Reidar Särestöniemi's childhood home. The artist's grandparents, Heikki (1859–1941) and Kaisa Kaukonen, b. Tammela (1851–1927), bought the Särestöniemi farm in 1889. The oldest part of the main building dates from 1873. The family's surname became Särestöniemi in the 1930s, after the name of the farm. Of Heikki and Kaisa's four sons, Matti (1890–1974) continued as the owner of the farm.
Särestöniemi farm was largely self-sufficient. Livelihood came from many sources; livestock farming was complemented by small-scale barley and potato cultivation, reindeer husbandry, hunting, fishing and berry growing. The main waterway Ounasjoki was a significant salmon river, where even man-sized salmon were caught. Forestry work, swimming and cargo driving brought cash income. Life was regulated by nature's annual cycle.
Reidar Särestöniemi's mother Alma Särestöniemi, nee Andersen (1894–1973) was born in Vesisaari, Northern Norway. Alma's mother Sofia Andersen, nee Tammela (1853–1913) came from Hanhimaa in Kittilä, and her father Erik Andersen, formerly Hirmu, (1847–1913) came from Keminmaa. Alma and Matti Särestöniemi got married in 1913 and settled in Särestö after initially living in Vesisaari. Alma and Matti had seven children, of whom Reidar was born in 1925. After the death of his parents, Reidar's brother Anton stayed to live in Vanhaa Särestö. After his brother's death, Anton served as Särestö's host until his death in 1997.
The buildings of the old Särestö were restored in the early 2000s. Old Särestö reflects the way of life of the past and tells the story of the Särestöniemi family and the early stages of the artist Reidar Särestöniemi. The artist's first studio space was located in the cheerful Vanha Särestö
a jumble of stories and omens
View from the porch of Old Särestö window
Särestöniemi's family has always had "living in two countries". Omens, omens, possessors and inexplicable experiences have permeated everyday life and Särestö has lived strongly in the world of stories and old beliefs. Särestön's Alma saw prophecies and omens, just like her mother Sofia once did. Dreams were often about major turning points in human life or death. Alma was also sensitive to the forebodings of those who came to the house, especially Mat had strong forebodings running ahead of her like a thought. Old traditional methods were used for everyday work and survival until new ones became available.
The sick were treated with natural products, healing spells were read, or hemostatic agents were used. Nocturnal insomnia or haunted by nightmares moved its place away from the path of the earthlings. There was also a tradition of scientists in the family. The son of the first settler of Kaukonen village, Klaus Mikonpoika Kaukonen, was famous for notching.
Särestö's house, which was located along the old freight road that led from Sodankylä via Kelontekämä to Kaukosi, also housed numerous travelers who spent the evenings telling the stories and events they had experienced and heard.
Exhibition in the old
LIFE IN A SELF-SUFFICIENT FRAMEWORK
Vanha Särestö 15.11.2022 fromI drive
Photo: Matti Saanio
Life on the Särestö farm was largely self-sufficient and livelihood was obtained from many sources. We lived on traditional livelihoods, cultivated hay, barley and potatoes, had cows, sheep and a horse. Grandfather, or Heikki-äiji, also practiced reindeer husbandry. The main waterway Ounasjoki was a significant salmon river, where even man-sized salmon were caught. Game and berries contributed to the food economy. Forestry work, swimming and cargo driving were important sources of money. Nature's annual cycle regulated life.
There was plenty of work and things to do in the farmhouses. It seems like a lot of work is being done here, but there is still no rush for anything, described Reidar's Ateneum classmate Särestö's life in the 1960s.