Some Kind of Heavenly Fire by Maria Lax is an investigation and artistic depiction of stories discovered in her grandfather’s book. As a journalist he had been investigating claims of strange and unexplained sightings in the forests around where she grew up in a remote region of Northern Finland. Marias cinematic approach to storytelling creates a compelling and enigmatic world filled with mystery.
“I’m from a small town in Northern Finland surrounded by a vast, sparsely populated wilderness. Most pass through the town on their way someplace else without ever knowing it was a hotspot for UFO sightings in the 1960’s.
Unaware of this history myself, it wasn’t until I read my grandfather’s book that I learnt of the incredible stories of supernatural events, bravery and struggle against hardship in what is largely a barren land. Already suffering from dementia, he was unable to answer any of the questions I had so I went looking for the answers. I turned to the people who saw the mysterious lights, to newspaper archives and my family’s photo albums from the era.
The UFO sightings coincided with a time of great struggle for Northern Finland. People flooded from the countryside to the cities in search of jobs leaving abandoned houses scattered across this beautiful but harsh landscape. It’s no wonder that the UFO sightings embodied a fear of the future, the unknown and the inexorable shift in lifestyles and livelihoods going on around them. Some reacted to the mysterious lights with fear, some took them as a sign they were not alone.”
– Maria Lax
In this series we find the essence of the bewildering stories that had been relayed to her throughout her youth. Using newspaper cuttings, her late grandfather’s book, family archive as well as her own images, we find an immersive and enigmatic world filled with mystery.
To see prints from the series follow the link above
The book is now available via Setanta Books
Maria Lax is a London based photographer originally from a small town in Northern Finland. She is known for her use of colour and seamlessly blending reality and fantasy in her work and Maria’s background in cinematography shines through in her strong use of lighting and experimental camera techniques.
Maria Lax’s work has been exhibited at fairs and festivals worldwide and published in WIRED, Irish Times, Lamono Magazine, Vogue Interior, Musee Magazine and Pacific Dissent among others. Maria Lax was one of the winners of British Journal of Photography’s Female in Focus awards, 2019 and a finalist in the BJP Portrait of Humanity, 2020, PHMuseum Photography Grant Finalist, 2020, Winner of the In Cadaques festival Open Call, 2020.
2021 Some Kind of Heavenly Fire solo exhibition – PHmuseum Photolab, Bologna, Italy
2020 Jakarta International Photography Festival – Jakarta, Indonesia (postponed to 2021)
2020 Singapore International Photo Festival – Singapore
2020 Photo London – London, UK
2020 InCadaques Festival – Cadaques, Spain
2020 Lagos Photo Festival – PH Museum Photography Grant Finalists – Lagos, Nigeria
2020 Imago Lisboa Photo Festival – Lisbon, Portugal
2020 Encontros da Imagem Discovery Awards – Praga, Portugal
2020 Verzasca Foto Festival – PH Museum Photography Grant Finalists – Valle Verzasca, Switzerland
2020 Helsinki Photo Festival – Helsinki, Finland
2020 The Affordable Art Fair – Battersea, London
2020 Open Doors Gallery Landscape Exhibition & Book Launch – London
2020 British Journal of Photography Female in Focus 2019 – London & New York
2019 Open Doors Gallery Group Exhibition – London
2019 The Auction Collective “The Summer Auction” – Candid Arts
British Journal of Photography
American Suburb X
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