Ted Wallin is a local entrepreneur, philanthropist, art collector and general community figure in the archipelago town of Pargas (or Parainen in Finnish). It all sounds pretty unspectacular until you realise his unique passion – his deep and consuming relationship with the artist and icon of surrealism, Salvador Dali.
Dali is a rule-breaker and an enigmatic figure. We discuss the value this has toward unlocking our imagination, particularly in Finnish culture, where, as Ted explains, “you don’t use your imagination – you just go by facts.” Ted elaborates on his personal philosophy, stating that “when you use your imagination you have so much more fun, and life is a whole lot easier.”
Moving onto his current venture, Art Bank, he recalls it being a difficult time to start in the art business with fewer people willing to indulge their artistic tastes with costly purchases. “I want to sell good art which has a value in the future. We like to keep a high profile. We are selling Stefan Lindfors, Hans-Christian Berg, Anna-Liisa Kankaanmäki, Picasso, Chagal. I want to sell art which is well known out in the world, but sell it in Pargas.” It turns out that Stefan Lindfors is actually a relative of Ted’s, and his impressive ‘Ant’ sculpture guards the entrance to Art Bank.
Unsurprisingly Ted’s own taste in art is definitely not understated. “I like big art pieces with the ‘wow’ effect,” he explains, going on to point out the jewellery that adorns his fingers. These unique creations aren’t works by Dali but have been created by Matti Hyvärinen, a well-known goldsmith and jeweller. “Would you like to meet him?” Ted asks, and we head down the street to the gallery. Matti Hyvärinen, himself a jewel of the local Kaarina community, has been a jewellery artist for over 50 years. When we meet he proudly shows me a book documenting his life’s work. He points out a page showing jewellery he created for the Apollo 11 space mission which now stands in the NASA Museum.
When I explore Ted’s motivations for being located in Pargas, his passion for the region is matched only by his love for Dali. “To offer something like the Salvador Dali private exhibition in Pargas, it makes the town feel more surreal, and hopefully people will find their way into our beautiful city, and experience the romance of a small town.” Ted understands the commercial value of being located in a big city like Helsinki, but sees the enormous potential within his home town. “It’s only waiting for a new blossoming. We have sort’ve forgotten to renew ourselves,” Wallin remarks.
Art in the Archipelago is something of a phenomenon and will be a feature of this blog series. Ted agrees and points out that Pargas is “far ahead of many other cities,” with a lively theatre and musical culture; an archipelago music academy and many other unique events and functions.
He believes the region needs to better show off it’s attributes. His mission is to break down the barriers with something extraordinary, paving the way for others.
Ted is really doing all he can to create the best experience possible in Pargas. He has ready to show me designs for a new building development called ‘artHOUSE‘ (click the link to see the architects drawings) on the city’s high street. The designs are both dramatic and tasteful, delivering smooth contours and archways inspired by the villas and facades of rural Spanish towns. Ted has needed to be bold and determined in his mission to get his dream in motion but has received backing from the powers that be. I think the whole area will be pleased and benefit from the outcome.
In addition to Art Bank, Ted is bringing a completely different way to engage with Dali and his creations. In the Salvador Dali Private Dinner, groups can book a dining experience that pays homage to those given by the man himself. Elaborate and ornate places settings, seven and half kilos of silverware, Dali furniture, food and wine from recipes and books compiled by Dali, a Chaine de Rotisseur chef as well as the personality and story-telling of the host Ted Wallin, offer a mouth-watering opportunity for all the senses. As Ted explains, “with the best smelling salts in the city I shall awaken all of my guests and take them on a mystical and surreal experiential Dali tour!”
So whether you are interested in art or fine dining, small town romance or hidden corners of cultural expression, Ted, Art Bank and the city of Pargas are stirring the possibilities of imagination and breaking the boundaries of cultural norms in the most refreshing ways. The last word I will leave for Ted and Salvador:
“In every person’s life there shall be a day when they will want to be like Salvador Dali.”