An Interview with an Expat from Finland

Susanna Hernesniemi

Susanna Hernesniemi

Susanna who is from Finland but married to a Dane has lived and worked as an artist in Penang for the past seven years.

We have stayed in Asia previously – in China, where my husband was posted in a Danish company for four years. We moved back to Sweden in 2007, and after one year there my husband was offered a new position in Malaysia, a chance to experience another interesting Asian culture. We moved to Penang in May 2008, and in 2010 we purchased our own property in Tanjung Bungah.

My work as an artist, moving from one country to another, is like planting a new tree from the seeds you have grown in the previous country. In Sweden ,I succeeded to build up to a solo show, and I still keep contact with the artist with whom I shared a studio space. In Malaysia I became member of Penang Artists Society and more lately a member of Art Malaysia Association and Penang Teacher’s Art Circle. I have been active on the local and international art scene. I have many local friends through my art activity and we have also some expat friends.

Penang has a lots to offer. The friendliness of the local people is the thing that I appreciate most. The weather is nice, sometimes a bit
too warm, but the nature and jungle are gorgeous. I grew up in Finland and since my childhood I learned to appreciate the natural forest which was part of our daily life. The close connection between human beings and nature is also expressed in my abstract works. I try to make people feel the importance of preserving the environment and so the endless building in Penang that seems to happen without taking into account either environment or aesthetics does concern me.

We have just had some of our friends visit us for the first time in Penang and we took them on a tour through Georgetown Heritage trail, Penang Botanical Garden, and jungle trekking through Teluk Bahang State Park. We went to Pantai Kerachut where you also can visit a Turtle Sanctuary. These are the three must see things in Penang we feel. We had lunch in one of my favorite places, in at Jawi House which serves authentic Jawi Pernakan taste of home cooked dishes. A friendly and lovely heritage atmosphere and I am thrilled that I am going to part of a group show there in April. Another restaurant that I can recommend is the Ferringhi Gardens in Batu Ferringhi.

Living far away from our family we miss the daily contact to our children and grandchildren who grow fast. But we have our second home back in Copenhagen which we travel twice a year. We hope also that our grandchildren will soon be able to visit us in Penang. It would be a great experience for the whole family.

Read This: An Interview with a French Expat in Malaysia

Source: The Expat Magazine April 2015

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