Leena Nio, aka neanio, has lived in Paris now for over 20 years. Whilst on holiday at her parent’s house in Finland 4 years ago she came across an article about French artist, Virginie Loy, teaching mosaic workshops in Finland. “Hmm, I thought, that’s something I could try- so as soon as I got back to Paris I bought a book on how to do mosaics.”
Ever since winning an art competition (with a picture very similar to her flower fields of today)and a trip to Canada at the tender age of 13, Leena has always loved the arts. She had a long period of making jewellery but felt she had gone as far as she could with her jewellery making. As it happens she lives a 10 minute walk away from one of the best mosaic supply stores in France… “They were very helpful in telling me how to use tools and about the materials. And of course every church and many houses or even streets in Paris have exemples of mosaics.”
After experimenting by herself for a couple of years with flower pots and trays etc, Leena felt she needed to learn new techniques, so again, right next door, she found a wonderful teacher called Claire Guerin, who won the biggest mosaic competition in France back in 2006. “From then on, I feel like I have been able to progress heaps. I can’t seem to stop making mosaics almost every day – that’s what I was warned about in my mosaics store – they said “ careful, once you start doing mosaics it becomes a passion”.”
Lately there has been a growing interest in her work both in France and in Finland. Her next exhibition will be in August and hopefully another in Paris either in October or in November. “I just finished an outside terrace which was a first for me, artistically it’s a success, as Claire would say, but evening up the surface is still difficult for me (all pieces were of different thicknesses).”
For the future, Leena hopes for an agent who could take care of selling her work and interfacing with clients so she could leave her day job and keep creating the images that invade her mind. Meanwhile, “I guess I just muddle along hoping my work gets somehow noticed for its quality and imagination.” Artists that inspire her include Sonia King, Irina Charny and Claire Guerin, but she admires any piece of work that comes from anybody as long as it’s got a play of colour and style that she relates to.
Finally meet Leena: