Hommage à Ester Helenius Hommage à Ester Helenius, a book of photographs, is an artwork consisting of pictures, poems and print work. The flower and plant motifs of the book form a garden with both sacral and sensual ambiences. The mysterious light and dark tones illustrate the eternal cycle of life – birth, growth and death. The name of the book refers to Ester Helenius (1875–1955), a Finnish painter, whose art has been one of the sources of inspiration for this photo collection.
Marjukka Vainio has used many film and paper materials and various printing techniques just in one picture but often the first version has been a fotogram, a paper slide. The final originals of the book she has prepared with Ilfochrome (previously Cibachrome) silver dye bleach. It is a colour process whereby the material is impregnated with bright colour dyes during manufacturing. These dyes are then selectively bleached out during the development process.
The colour separation of the images was performed by Peter Ragnarsson, a Swedish printing trade expert, with an offset akvatinta raster, which he developed particularly for this printing job. It was a combination of an old handicraft method and a new digital stochastic one. Offest akvatinta made the differences in the original colours and hues of the photos possible to visualise. This technique could also be used to search for new depth of the light and colour world of the photographs, which emphasises the identity of the book as an independent work of art.
Bo Carpelan has written a set of poems, Årets kretslopp, for the book inspired by Marjukka Vainios pictures, which portrays the cycle of a year with subtly sentimental tones. The layout of the book has been carried out by Ritva Kovalainen and Marjukka Vainio. The book is published in a Finnish, Swedish, English and French issue all bound by hand, 300 pieces in each language. Each book also includes a separately numbered and signed impression of art printing.
The National Council for Photographic Art granted quality support for the book, which made it possible to use the demanding and experimental separation, rastering and printing process. The jury of Svensk Bokkonst selected the book as one of the most significant books published in 1998 in Sweden in both technical and artistic terms, and the book was presented in the Svensk Bokkonst 1998 exhibition at the Kungliga bibliotek in Stockholm and Grafiska Museet in Helsingborg.