The collection of Epp and Madis Eelmaa consists of items brought back from their distant travels as well as from Europe, thus reflecting the scope of their journeys and their expanding knowledge over time. “Collecting is not just about buying and owning, pre-existing interest and subsequent research are just as important – it is a whole process,” say the Eelmaas, discussing how their collection has taken shape. Epp is passionate about porcelain, Madis about glass, their shared interests include Buddhist architecture, sculpture and craft. All of this has had an influence on the couple’s choices when it comes to designing their home.
“Curiosity has taken us to the East and to the West, to metropolises and ‘to the ends of the world’. We have experienced different cultures, exciting encounters, and collected emotions and knowledge relating to our hobbies – it is captivating, makes us happy and offers something positive. Our favourite region is East-Asia, countries such as Laos, Cambodia, and especially Myanmar.
“The very first bronze and lacquerware items and textiles were bought mainly to decorate our home; however, by now we have around a hundred sculptures and miniature sculptures. We became more seriously interested in old porcelain when we moved into our home in Tallinn’s Old Town. Looking at German websites we noticed the variety and fascinating history of porcelain cutting boards: from simple boards for bread to the precursor of plates, from working surfaces to rich people’s wall ornaments. The collection holds around 450 different cutting boards, around a third of which are displayed at the exhibition. Carafes and decanters also have an important place in our home. Altogether we have around 200, the most distinguished example being a wine carafe that belonged to Madis’ grandfather Mihkel Körtz, which he received as a gift on 29 September 1915 for his 50th birthday from the co-shareholders of the Hotel St Petersburg.”
The exhibition design divides the space into two – in the “West” a multifaceted display of carafes, decanters and porcelain cutting boards is exhibited, while the “East” surprises the viewer with everything from a tiny elephant-shaped opium box to a 250 kg bronze Buddha. The two “worlds” are separated by a masterful antique carved wood divider with scenes from the Ramajana.
Tallinn City Museum’s exhibition series Collections – Stories introduces fascinating collections owned by people from Tallinn that alongside the items also highlight the personal memories and experiences of the collectors that contribute to the choices made when forming their collections.
This exhibition is part of the series Collections – Stories 2 “Epp and Madis Eelmaa: to East and West together”
Exhibition at Tallinn City Museum (Vene 17) 11.03 – 27.09 2020
Curator: Anne Ruussaar
Exhibition designer: Mari Kurismaa
Graphic designer: Mari Kaljuste
Photos: Madis Eelmaa
Texts: Epp Eelmaa, Madis Eelmaa, Anne Ruussaar
Music: Ravi Shankar
Gallery name: Tallinna Linnamuuseum
Address: Vene 17, Tallinn
Opening hours: Tue 10:00 - 19:00, Wed-Sat 10:00 - 17:00, Sun 11:00 - 16:00
Open: 11.03.2020 - 27.09.2020