Jane Broberg
Senior Vice President, Human Resources

Having studied this for quite some time now I find myself intrigued and wanted to understand what really sat behind the inspiration for this amazing creation.

The painting “Alma Mater” is the winning entry of The Art of Basware, an annual international competition for young artists. I was excited to have the opportunity to meet Jyri, the artist himself, and ask about his work and this fine piece of art.


Jyri Ala-Ruona, the winner of The Art of Basware 2015 competition, is a young contemporary artist who lives and works in Helsinki, Finland. He has studied at the Lahti University of Applied Sciences –  Institute of Design and Fine Arts and established the art community Hydra with five other artists.


How are you Jyri? What have you been working on lately?

I’m very well thank you. I have been busy moving and have now set up a new studio in Helsinki. I have been assisting other artists while I haven’t got a bigger exhibition coming up myself and I have also done some construction work on building sites.

I’m part of a group of artists, called Hydra and we are getting our installation ready for an exhibition in early December. The exhibition is organized by the Union of Finnish Art Associations in Gallery SEINÄ in Helsinki.

You were selected as the winner of The Art of Basware competition in April this year. How did you feel when you found out you are the winner?

First I was very confused. The phone call caught me as a total surprise and it took a little bit of time to understand what had happened. On the next day it felt brilliant when I traveled from Lahti to Musiikkitalo - Helsinki Music Centre to be awarded at the exhibition opening ceremony.

My university application had just been rejected and I hadn’t been able to get exhibitions so it was great to receive positive news for the spring that encouraged me to continue working as an artist – the universe answered at just the right moment.

This is the second time you succeed in this competition. Can you tell me about your achievements?

I attended The Art of Basware competition for the first time in 2013. There were over 400 entries and my painting was one of the 42 finalists selected to the exhibition in the Helsinki Music Centre. The Helia Foundation bought the painting “Rituaali” and it’s located in the Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki.

Shortly after winning The Art of Basware 2015, Anna Ruth, one of the judges, contacted the Hydra group and invited us to participate in the ti-la2016 exhibition in Jyväskylä. Our work will be visible for one week in the summer 2016.

This competition offers a unique opportunity for young artists to get visibility. 

I’m very curious about the winning art piece. How was Alma Mater born?


Jyri Ala-Ruona, Alma Mater, 100 x 70, Oil on canvas, Basware art collection

I was involved with a program which directs artists to do their art work in different communities that provide social and health services. I was working for four months in Takatasku, a recreation center mainly for elderly, unemployed and others who need support in life. I painted portraits of employees and customers.

Work with Alma Mater started with long discussions about how the model sees herself and how I see her. It was a long process and the work evolved still after I left  from Takatasku. I finished the painting just before the Art of Basware competition. It  was a very positive experience.

The theme for this year’s competition was “Achievement”. How the theme shows in Alma Mater?

Alma Mater shows the achievement of life – long, rewarding but hard life. It’s about how the model shows to me and to the world. Alma Mater is not just a simple portrait, it illustrates different layers of life. It could just as well be a portrait of myself and the world.

I recently received a surprising call from an unknown number. I had lost the model’s contact details and she called me after seeing a picture of the painting in the premises of the Lahti Artists' Association. I was happy to hear that she was very pleased with the painting.

When I get back to the London office tomorrow morning, I will see the painting differently.  I now realise that every art piece has a story to tell and there is so much more to them than just paint and canvas.

Basware has been supporting young artists already for 16 years and I’m proud to be involved with this global initiative. Baswareans and guests who visit the Basware offices can be inspired by the Basware art collection which today consists of 96 individual stories of life – showing the passion of the young artists.

Stay tuned for The Art of Basware 2016:

#ArtOfBasware on Twitter