Gallerist Q&A – Hanna Huitu

In this series, we talk to the founders and directors of leading galleries from across the Nordics about the personal stories behind them becoming gallerists, and the principles they work by. Meet Hanna Huitu, who started out with dreams of becoming an explorer and is now CEO of Galerie Anhava.

Photo of Hanna Huitu in front of Mari Sunna painting at Art Hong Kong, 2009

Courtesy of Galerie Anhava

All superheroes have a creation myth, what's yours? What got you started? Not many kids say: “I want to be a gallerist when I grow up.” How did you get into it?

By accident! As a kid I wanted to be an explorer. After high school I basically wanted to see the world and ended up studying photography in England. After my BA I returned to Finland, worked as a primary school teached for a year, and then continued to do my MA in Helsinki.

Towards the end of my MA I was asked by a professor to help out at an an art fair in Stockholm. At a dinner at Sturehof, I met Ilona Anhava, who then asked me to help out at the gallery for the summer of 2003.

That’s how I started at Galerie Anhava. But still, I feel that working with art and artists shares similarities with my initial interest in exploration.

Portrait of Ilona Anhava, founder of Galerie Anhava

Courtesy of Galerie Anhava

External view of Galerie Anhava, September 2020

Courtesy of Galerie Anhava

Did you have any gallery experience before opening your gallery?

No, and I still haven’t opened my own gallery – I am the CEO of the gallery, and have been since 2019, but I am not the owner. Having been in charge of the gallery these past three years has been a great privilege and a challenge, a chance to look at its great history and to rethink and learn to do things my way.

I will say that I do also have the experience of not knowing what to do at an opening, how to enter a gallery, etc. as galleries were not part of my world until I started working in one. Apart from having exhibited my own work in a few group shows I did not know much about this world.

Installation view of Anna Tuori, Window, at Galerie Anhava, 2020

Photo by Jussi Tiainen

Installation view, Marko Vuokola, Galerie Anhava, 2018

Courtesy of Galerie Anhava

What are the ethics of your job? Have they changed since you started?

Be kind. Be honest. Be trustworthy. Focus on the good. Think for yourself. Listen, to yourself and others.

Is there a young artist you have helped to achieve international recognition?

Yes, several.

Installation view of Kari Caven, Huuto ja kuiskauksia (Cry and Whispers), Galerie Anhava, 2017

Photo by Jussi Tiainen

David Risley is an artist. He ran David Risley Gallery, in London (2002-2010) and Copenhagen (2010-2018). He was founding Co-curator of Bloomberg Space, London (2002-2005), Co-founder of Zoo Art Fair, London (2004), and Co-founder and Co-owner of CHART. He continues to write, curate, and develop projects with artists. He is developing a sustainability project for public-facing institutions.

Hanna Huitu is the CEO of Galerie Anhava, appointed by founder Ilona Anhava after working there since 2003. Galerie Anhava focuses on contemporary Finnish and Nordic art, with an active role in providing representation at an international level. The gallery’s exhibition program engages with visual art across all media. Galerie Anhava is committed to the long-term representation of its artists and aims to be part of an ongoing dialogue between artists, institutions and audiences alike.