Helene Grey á la Schjerfbeck

The colour ‘Helene’ of Pelago draws inspiration from, and is named after, the paintings of Helene Schjerfbeck. The ever-green—or ever-grey—tones of this Finnish painter are currently on display at Villa Gyllenberg in Helsinki’s Kuusisaari. The exhibition features both paintings and the history of costumes from the era when the corset’s laces came undone.

Helene was a modernist painter, known for her realist works and self-portraits, as well as her landscapes and still lifes. Throughout her life, her evolving style moved from French-influenced realism to more rudimentary self-portraits, with subdued greens consistently present. 

Born in 1862, Helene fell down stairs at the age of 4, sustaining a hip injury that affected her for the rest of her life. At the young age of 11, she enrolled at the Finnish Art Society School of Drawing, and in 1880, she set off for Paris, where she would stay intermittently over the next decade. Later, she returned to Finland to teach and continued to develop her unique personal style. She built a reputation and had many exhibitions in the Nordics. Helene never stopped painting, mastering her iconic last self-portraits, which still reflected her ongoing artistic exploration, before passing away in 1946.

Pelago in Helene Grey color is available as 3-speed and 7-speed versions. Choose your model here.

Helene Schjerfbeck at Villa Gyllenberg (until June 9th 2024)

Villa Gyllenberg is a delightful place as a setting. It is a comfortable bike ride away from different parts of the metropolitan area. The art museum’s collection and the originally decorated home museum, along with the surrounding nature, together create an authentic experience.

The artworks of the exhibition and the outfits related to the history of fashion are spaciously placed among other pieces. If you have seen the movie about Helene, you might recognize some of the characters and stories behind the works. The exhibition and the movie together strongly immerse the viewer into the mindset of the artist.

When the exhibition trip is combined with cycling in Helsinki awakening to spring, the experience is even stronger. You can ride from the center of Helsinki to Lauttasaari, through Kaskisaari and Lehtisaari to Kuusisaari. Or cycle via shores of Hietalahti, Mäntyniemi and Munkkiniemi. 

Riding through the blossoming trees and leaves — is there a greater wonder than nature, from dormant to bursting greenery? Where can freedom take us and move us? Nature and art have spoken. And the people, whose encounters, lasting just a nanosecond, also make the cyclist feel that something wonderful is in store: a whole cycling summer and the world of possibilities. What all can our senses capture when we let the pedals roll.

The Schjerfbeck & Fashion – Art and Costume History 1880–1950 exhibition is open until June 9, 2024, at Villa Gyllenberg.