DURING a career that has spanned over 60 years, Rafael Wardi has been widely recognised for his wide range of colourful paintings. Depicting a variety of still lifes, portraits, city views and landscapes, up until the end of the 1990s, the majority of his artworks were oil paintings.

MAKING a welcome return to Finland, Swedish singer Melissa Horn is performing a pair of gigs in Helsinki and Turku, on 31 January and 1 February.

Known for her sensitive folk songs sung in her native tongue, Horn made her Top Ten hit album debut in 2008 with Långa Nätter (Long Nights). The album was a Top Ten hit and spawned the singles Långa Nätter, En Famn För Mig (No Fathoming for Me), and Som Jag Hade Dig Förut (As I Had You Before), the latter a duet with fellow Swede Lars Winnerbäck.

IT’S time once again to enjoy world-class flamenco at the Helsinki Flamenco Festival. Held between 8 and 19 February, the festival programme this year is full of events and activities, such as concerts with famous flamenco artists, both foreign and Finnish, dance courses and lectures.

Kicking off with a festival club night at the National Theatre Stage Club, a juerga-ring is set to be formed, with all and sundry invited to showcase their skills, with various tapas being served to fuel the improvisation.

Czech composer Leoš Janáček’s acclaimed Jenůfa is coming to Finnish National Opera from 24 January – 27 February.

Continuing her series of memorable interpretations of Janáček’s oeuvre, Finnish star soprano Karita Mattila depicts the young Jenůfa as she comes to terms with her conflict-torn fate. Widely considered among the most important operatic works of the 20th century, the pregnant Jenůfa has her face destroyed by the jealous Laca’s knife, leaving her with a scar on her face and a child born out of wedlock.

Who said international politics, journalism and acrobatics cannot go hand in hand?

SARAH HUDSON arrived in Finland in 2006. She had previously been living in Beirut, where she was working as a freelance writer just when the war broke out. She was then forced to leave.