Why Tormis?

In discussing the spirit of the Estonian we can speak of five thousand years of being on the face of this earth, of a harsh history of domination by different oppressors, of ninety years of existence as a nation and of a peaceful diligence of dignity. We speak of the scars on the soul of the people, we can point to the majesty of having managed to survive, the beauty of collective creation and the desire to maintain this knowledge and transmit it to future generations. There is something static in the Estonian soul, which does not let its inner metronome be perturbed by random gusts of wind; rather it ticks away to the beat of the land, the sea, and the forests. An eternal meditative spirit and an ancient simplicity are to found in these rhythmic repetitions, which were passed on to our day by the anonymous memory of our ancestors. That, which expresses the being of this people, their character, their convictions and beliefs, that, which is unique to just this spot and this people, this is the only thing that is of any interest and possessed of any value to the world. There is sense in conveying just this, so that what will end up being cooked in the kettle of global culture during this epoch of homogenisation won’t be some uniform grey swill.

And can there be a more inspired conveyer of culture then a composer, whose creative production is based on the archaic songs of his own people; than an author, whose works and thoughts are worthy of being disseminated in printed form over the globe, which would be of interest to peoples of other manners of thought

and ways of life; than an individual, who possesses ample significance not only for Estonian culture but for that of the whole world.

It is quite a proper and beautiful thing to work with what is one’s own; to develop just that. The legacy of our national heritage is our ageless wealth: ornamental rhythms, folk poetry, folk song, folk dance; preserved in time, rediscovered by the following generations.

The mythic patterns of Estonian thought, which got their beginnings far back in times distant, and which never separated what is ideal from reality, continues in art. Ancient strength in even contemporary interpretations has its own spot, which braces the one drinking at its fountainheads.  Only those, who are well versed with the legacy of their people, are able to transmit this abundance. Culture develops in the act of exchange with partners who encode the world in different ways – but in order to ensure that the ‘other’ will understand us, we must find an appropriate language. Art, which is merely one form of communication, makes use of a conditional language that needs no translation. In the space hidden behind this language, the face of a people can be found.

Illu Erma
Estonian Leatherwork Artists' Union
member of the Board