Storybook Helsinki and Beyond Storybook Helsinki and Beyond is a genre-bending book that delights the eye and tells a tale. Hundreds of gorgeous, darkly colorful photos by young Romanian artist, Octavian Bâlea, are woven with the light and tender voice of Cody Douglas Oreck, wife of the American Ambassador to Finland, to bring an outside/inside view into a particularly rich aspect of Finnish culture, its brave history and its astonishing design.
Cody Douglas Oreck is a designer specializing in blending the historic preservation of the best of our built environment with the best of our technology for a lighter footprint on the earth. With degrees from the Sorbonne in Paris and from Louisiana State University, she has been all over the world, seeing and learning with the most open heart and mind that she can muster. Melding design with caring for nature is her passion. The knowledge that sometimes the greenest house is the house that is already built has been woven with her love of architecture and antiques.
Octavian Bâlea was born in 1984 in Bucharest and educated in fine arts from an early age in Romania during its chaotic transition from communism to a sort of democracy. In 2005 he moved to Germany to continue his education and earned a degree in the Gestaltung department of the Bauhaus University in Weimar in 2007.
Bâlea had one-man shows of his paintings at the inauguration of the Barbu Stirbey Cultural Center in 2010 and of his photography at the Fine Arts Museum of Szczecin, Poland in 2010, at the City Hall of Reykjavik in 2011 and at the Finnish Museum of Photographic Art in 2012, during the "Helsinki Photography Biennale".
For this project, Bâlea employed German, American, Japanese and Soviet cameras ranging in age from 1908 to the present. Ica, Moskva, Graflex, Canon and Bronica with Anastigmat, Zeiss, Schneider & Kreuznach, Zenzanon and Mamiya lenses are but a few of the tools he deployed. Many film formats were used, from 35mm and middle format to 4"X 5" large sheets from Kodak, Fuji, Ilford, Efke and Fomapan.
But Bâlea developed his own special photographic emulsion recipes to recreate the mood and feel of George Eastman's brilliant experiments from the end of the 19th century for Storybook Helsinki and Beyond.