Something wild

Fowl play? Ambassador Huhtaniemi and a work of art by his grandson,
Amos. below: Wild at heart – Amos and the photograph which impressed judges at a national competition

More often than not, embassy art is rather grand and imposing – but Finnish Ambassador Pekka Huhtaniemi…

Above the fireplace in the private quarters of the Finnish Residence is a drawing of a pheasant that has intrigued many a visitor. Complete with real feathers, a bright orange beak and legs, and an alert look in its eyes, it’s as if the bird is poised to fly from its perch before becoming someone’s dinner.

The artist behind this work is none other than the Ambassador’s six-year-old grandson, Amos, who gave the picture to his grandfather to remind him of home.

According to his proud grandparents, Amos has always had a keen eye for nature. “Amos is very enthusiastic about animals, plants, stones, mushrooms he’s very keen on gardening too,” says Ambassador Huhtaniemi. “Although he lives in Helsinki, nature is always close by. He loves to take trips to the zoo and to the family country cottage which is just a couple of hours out of the city.”

His grandson is also something of a child prodigy when it comes to nature photography. One of Amos’s seascapes, titled “The Sea of Amos”, was entered into a nation-wide photography competition in Finland celebrating the theme of “The Metropolis and the Sea”. His photo got an honourable mention and the judges – from top photography magazines in Finland – were astonished to discover that a five-year-old had taken such an evocative photo.

But in some ways, Amos is continuing a fine Finnish tradition in London. Ambassador Huhtaniemi’s predecessor, Pertti Salolainen was a renowned nature photographer. He caused a stir in London when he “gave asylum” to a vixen and her cubs in Kensington Palace Gardens in the days before the foxhunting ban.

And were it not for good neighbourly relations between the Russian and Finnish Embassies, the Finnish foxes’ incursions into the neighbouring Russian Residence to steal the Russian Ambassador’s tennis balls could have caused a diplomatic incident…

Perhaps every now and again the tame world of diplomacy could do with a dose of unpredictability from the natural world!