May 20, 2022

Sylvi Hauhia, Veistoksia vesimyllyssä ja galleriassa ja sen ympäristössä / Sculptures in and around a watermill and gallery

pictures courtesy of
Heli Kallie-Kappinen and Raija Kallioinen

The photo above very well summarizes what the following post is essentially about, namely a mill (symbolized by the grindstone), two sculptures (representing an extensive display of sculpted creations)  and all of this surrounded by a beautiful landscape.

This landscape is depicted in the two images below, where the two sculpted characters, lined up along the edge of the forest, are overlooking the Vaalimaanjoki river in south-east Finland.

Welcome to Sylvia Hauhia's art environment, which is very special, not only because of the hundreds of attractive and captivating sculptures the site includes, but also because of the way they are arranged in a very natural way, both in the landscape and in a variety of buildings.

Life and works

Sylvi Hauhia, born in 1928, grew up in Hauhia, a small village that is part of the municipality of Miehikkälä, with about 1800 inhabitants, located in south-east Finland not far from the border between Finland and Russia. 

Sylvi was 11 years old when the family was evacuated after Russia at the end of November 1939  invaded Finland without a declaration of war. The Winter War, as the battle is called in Finland, ended in mid-March 1940 and Finland had to give up parts of the country. The Salpalinja, the 1200 km defense line along Finland's eastern border, built in the years 1940/44, bisects the municipality of Miehikkälä, which also houses a museum dedicated to the line

Returned to Hauhia, as a teenager Sylvi already felt attracted to making small-scale sculptures from clay that she collected herself. 

In 1953, when she was in her mid-20s and had married, she and her husband moved into a house near the mill of Hauhia, located near a rapids named Hauhiankoski (Hauhian Rapids) in the Vaalimaanjoki river,  just outside the village.   

Currently (2022) in her 90s, Sylvi Hauhia has lived in this area for some seventy years, steadily working on her collection of sculptures, which now includes some thousand creations.


Initially Sylvi mainly made small sculptures, as can be seen in the surrounding images, with above a scene of a group of people dancing, perhaps a memory of her wedding or a comparable festivity. 

These and similar scenes fill the shelves of a barn on the premises of the mill, near Sylvi's home, an exposition space opened in the summer of 2021 and referred to as Gallery Sylvi.

The small-scale creations, mainly made of clay, have a benign, sympathetic appearance and are often based on the artist's personal experiences.

After living in the house near the mill for some time, Sylvi Hauhia started making large-sized sculptures, as the following series of images shows. 

These sculptures, mostly made of cement, currently are partly set up in the outdoor space of the mill and can be freely visited. 

Another part, some hundred sculptures, is exhibited in the courtyard of the mill and in the residential building near the mill, where the collection can be visited (freely) during opening hours. 

The images show that these creations also mainly radiate a good-natured atmosphere, with mostly everyday characters in everyday situations.

The Hauhia mill

The Hauhia watermill dates from 1882 and was created thanks to the carpenter Petter Lundgren and the farmers Emmanuel Hauhia and Erkki Hauhia.  In August 1885 the mill was bought by Sylvester Manikin, who became a respected miller whose company contributed to the food supply in the area.

In the 1920s the mill was equipped with a sawmill and later an electricity generator was installed, which supplied the village with electricity. This machinery is now obsolete and no longer works

In January 2020, Markku Hauhia bought the mill and surroundings, and as part of an environmental project to improve the river basin, the mill was refurbished.

Rearranging the site

Since that purchase, the Hauhia family has worked to give the area around the mill a new allure, promoting the site as an artistic and recreational facility.

The barn at Sylvi's house reopened in 2021 as Galleria Sylvi Hauhia.

A small coffee shop was installed with some tables and chairs, making a small terrace available to the visitors. Not far from the mill, bicycles and rowing boats can be rented.

The outdoor arrangement of the large sculptures was adapted to the new character of the site.

In January 2022, the Regional Advisory Council for Environmental Policy announced that the Hauhiankosken (Hauhian Rapids) environmental project, which also included the renovation of the mill, was the best environmental project of 2021.

Hauhia village website
* Hauhian Milly on Facebook
* Entry on the website ITE taide
* Entry about the village of Hauhia on the website of the municipality of Miehikkälä

* Video on the Facebook page of Hauhian Mily

Sylvi Hauhia
Sculptures in and around a watermill and gallery
Hauhiantie Road 340 
49700 village of Hauhia, municipality of Miehikkälä, region Southern Finland, Finland
visitors welcome (a donation is appreciated)

May 13, 2022

Joan Carolà, Escultures al bosc / Sculptures in the forest

this picture and the next ones
courtesy of Dominique Clément 
The sculpture of a slightly cross-eyed person pictured above is part of a series of thirty stone sculptures arranged along a sculpture trail in a forest south of the Spanish village of Celrà.

Celrà, a village with about 5000 inhabitants, is located in the Girona region of Catalonia, not far from Spain's border with France.

The sun, pictured above, has played a part in the official records of the village from the seventeenth century to the present day.. On the facade of the local church, completed in 1803, a sun symbol is attached. The sculpture in the forest also expresses the importance of the sun as a symbol for the community.

A rather unknown artist

Little is known about the artist who made these sculptures. He is referred to as Joan Carolà, and his full name is Joan Carolà i Ros. An indication of his date of birth is not available.

There is a video in the documentation about Joan Carolà Ros that presents his creations between 1991 and 2014, both paintings and sculptures. This video however doesn't  have specific information about the year in which the positioning of the sculptures in the forest started.

So there is just a global indication available of the period in which the sculptures were made. Around the turn of the century, seems an acceptable assumption.

In an announcement of an exhibition at a gallery in Girona starting September 2021, Carolà is presented as someone who makes photographic compositions, under the name Yan Visuals. (Hashtag #yan_visuals on Instagram, pictures of the sculpture trail via #joancarola)

In a recent article (April 2022) about the sculptures he is ranked as an art brut artist

The ensemble of sculptures, displayed by Carolà along the trail in the woods for the most part includes depictions of human characters. The sun in the second image from above also has a human face. In the very first image, the halo returns, but then encircling a human head.

The four images above show a very different portrayal of human characters. The busts, placed on pedestals, are reminiscent of the faces of classical philosophers or other dignified persons. The pedestals seem to support the majesty of all these men.

When comparing the four sculptures of the dignified busts of men resting on pedestals with the six sculptures of human characters above, it is noticeable that the four are depicted quite realistically, while the six have some non-realistic features.

In particular the large, wide-open eyes of some persons are noteworthy, but also the wide mouth of the gentleman above on the left and the voluminous hats of the persons above on the right.

It is possible that these six are personalities known in Spain, but in the absence of information on the internet about the background of the people depicted in the sculptures, this post should remain general.

This also applies to the pyramids that line the sculpture trail and which seem to have unrecognizable decorative elements. These sculptures could refer to Mayan culture, but in the absence of background information, the guesswork remains.

Website Records del Moli (December 2018) with a note of sympathy to the creator of the sculptures
* Article on Josep de Tera y Camins' weblog about a walk in the Celrà area, with a series of photos of the sculptures

* Video (a series of stills) by Joan Ramon Anguera Gil (early 2022, YouTube, 3'24"), with explanatory text by Joan Marcet,

 Video by Martí Ullastres (camera and editing) about paintings and sculptures by Joan Carolà Ros, 1991-2014 (YouTube, 2014, 12'12", the part about the sculptures starts at 9'10")

Joan Carolà Ros
Sculptures in the forest
in a forest near the community of Celrà, region Girona, Catalonia, Spain
can be visited  freely
streetview with the location of the trail
and a large series of photos

May 06, 2022

Enrico Menegatti, Sculture nate dal mare / Sculptures born from the sea

 pictures from Menegatti's Facebook page

On the Italian beach of Lido di Volano along the Adriatic Sea, about 100 km south of Venice, is the spot where Enrico Menegatti made and displayed sculptures that he composed from washed up pieces of trees, mainly supplied by the river Po which flows into the sea a little north of the spot.

Life and works

Menegatti was born in 1955 in Codigoro, a municipality of some 13,000 inhabitants (2004) in the Ferrara department in the Emilia-Romagna region. The town is about 15 km inland from the Lido di Volano beach area.

After his primary education, he continued to live in Codigoro. His brother went to Milan in 1973 to study and as a young man Menegatti would have liked to attend an art school, but in order not to burden his family too much, he remained in his native region.

He married and formed a family with children, and he had a job as a diver for land reclamation.

The project sculptures born from the sea started on a summer day in July 2015. He was then 60 years old and not yet retired.

Walking on the beach, Menegatti saw a piece of wood washed up, that looked like the snout of a life-size horse. A few meters away, between a pile of branches, he saw a leg, then another and also the tail.....

After an hour and a half of working in kind of an artistic trance, he had formed a complete horse, held together by rope that had also washed ashore

This was the beginning of a creative project for many years to come.What Menegatti experienced that day in July made him go to the beach to make sculptures every Saturday (he had a job during the week).

By the end of the summer of 2015, he had made twelve sculptures.

Menegatti's way of working is based on his belief that it is not he who directs what is to be created, but that some kind of superior force is taking the lead. 

As he himself has said: I would speak of 'a hand from heaven' if I did not feel ridiculous; but I myself am in the end amazed at the finished work.

Menegatti and his driftwood sculptures became known as early as 2015, when a visiting couple took photos of the sculptures and posted them on Facebook. This resulted in many positive reactions, including a visit by a journalist from a newspaper.

There was also a less positive reaction, when in January 2016 sculptures were destroyed overnight and a month later another sculpture was set on fire, this accompanied by the display of a toy gun and a yellow "death risk" sign, as seen on power pylons.

The police installed a camera, and the images showed two masked men who visited the site at night, but remained unrecognizable. Menegatti was not deterred and continued his creative work. After the police's findings were made public and two exorcists had blessed the site, no further threats were made.

The destruction generally led to a lot of publicity, with one newspaper expressing the involvement of the inhabitants of Codigoro as follows: The vandals destroy and the Lombards reward.

The sculptures that Menegatti made, using only driftwood and iron wire, were generally life-size. 

He created a variety of sculptures of large animals, such as deer with bulky antlers, giraffes, crocodiles, horses and dinosaurs. But he also portrayed human characters, such as San Giorgio and the dragon and San Martino sharing his cloak with a poor man.

In the autumn of 2017, Menegatti's sculptures were exhibited in the park of the Pomposa Abbey, located about halfway between the Lido de Volano and Codigoro. A series of photos of the exhibition, made by Gaia Conventi, is available on Facebook.  After 2017, this park has also become the permanent location of Menegatti's collection. The spot on the beach no longer has that quality.

Also in the Garzaia di Codigoro, a nature reserve in Menegatti's residence, there is an arrangement of a number of Menegatti's sculptures.

* Article (January 2016) on the website of Estense TV, mainly about the destruction of sculptures
* Article (June 2021) by Benedetto Colli on website Arbiter
* On Facebook an account entitled Natedalmare Sculture di Enrico Menegatti

* Video (2'05", Facebook, May 2016) by Luigi Pambianchi 

* Video (2021?) by Telestense Ferrara (YouTube, 2'37")

Enrico Menegatti
sculptures born from the sea
from 2015 during some years the collection was displayed on the beach of Lido di Volano, 
Ferrara, region Emilia-Romagna, Italy
currently Menegatti's collection is displayed in the park of the Pomposa Abbey


April 29, 2022

Hans Widmer, Sodhubel Sandsteinskulpturen / Sodhubel sandstone sculptures

all photos (June 2021) courtesy of Hannes Bürgelin

Safenwil is a municipality with about 3600 inhabitants in the canton of Aargau in northern Switzerland, bordering Germany. Some two kilometers south-west of this city is a forested area called Sodhubel, which is characterized by sandstone rock formations. 

In that area there is an art environment formed by sculptures mounted in a vertically rising rock wall

Life and works

Hans Widmer (1887-1964) was born in the village of Schönenwerd as the son of a local baker. He grew up in this village, which is about six kilometers north of Safenwil.

After his primary education, he did an internship as a gardener and then worked as a mechanic in a small shoe buckle factory.

As a young man he was a member of a gymnastics club and during an exercise he had an unfortunate fall that left him with back pain for the rest of his life.

Widmer was a somewhat withdrawn personality, who did feel an urge to improve the world. From that point of view, he joined the religious group Jehovah's Witnesses in Safenwil.

Here he met the woman he would marry, Amalie Hilfiker (1890-1967), living in Safenwil. She was a somewhat dominant but also charitable person, who did a lot of good for people in Safenwil who were struggling financially. She herself had a good job at a regional firm.

Partly because of the financial security that his wife offered, Widmer was able to develop activities as a preacher. and missionary. He also had himself hired as a comedian at weddings and association events, but that was not such a success, because people preferred to hear funny jokes instead of his message that one should strive for the good life.

Widmer only found his true destiny in terms of work when he became acquainted with a local cabinetmaker and woodcarver from whom he learned woodcarving. Here he discovered his artistic talent. 

He started designing boxes, tables and chairs and he carved his first animal figures. And then, when in 1939 he was in his early 50s, he began carving all kinds of creations into the sandstone rocks at Sodhubel, a project he would work on until 1945

Creating an art environment

In earlier centuries, on the hilly spot where Widmer started making sculptures, there was a building named Scherenberg Castle, which was abandoned in the 17th century. 

Then the inhabitants of Safenwil used the already cut sand stones of the castle walls to build their houses. And after the castle was completely demolished (only a few foundations remained) the stones for constructive projects in Safenwil, were extracted from the hill itself, which resulted in the vertically sloping sand and stone expanses, into which Widmer could carve his sculptures.

The very first image and the one above give an impression of the rock face that Widmer used.

In a studio in a small basement space owned by people in Safenwil he knew, Widmer could spend days working on drawings of the sculptures he wanted to make. And then suddenly he got the urge to act, and he would go to the sandstone walls of the Sodhubel and work there day after day on his sculptures.

In the area in front of the sandstone walls he had built a wooden barrack to store his tools and to shed in bad weather.

The themes that Widmer expressed in his sculptures have been aptly summarized by Walter Hess in an article (see documentation) as a biblically substantiated fairytale patriotism.

Indeed, there are biblical stories portrayed, such as an Angel of Peace, there are scenes taken from fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood, and there are expressions of Helvetic patriotism, such as the Rütli Oath, an oath sworn in 1307 by the delegates of the three states that united and were the beginning of what would later become Switzerland (see the picture all the way down).

In addition to the sculptures related to the above-described theme, there are also stand-alone sculptures of, for example, a vase with flowers, as well as all kinds of animals, such as an elephant, a deer and others.

After completing his creation, Widmer remained active in carving mainly wooden boxes, tables, candlesticks and clocks until the end of his life.

In the field of art environments
the site isn't very well known 

There are only a few publications on the internet about this art environment, and certainly no articles that offer a systematic analysis of the sculptures. It seems that Widmer's art environment has not become very well known in the field of art environments..

For example, the Swiss Collection de l'art brut in Lausanne on its website has no referral to Widmer, although the museum published many monographs on non-professional artists and also payed attention to non-professionals who created art environments, such as Schulthess (Switzerland) and Nannetti (Italy).

Gradual decay of the sculptures

Standing in the open air, the sculptures are highly exposed to weathering. The sandstone of the rocks into which the sculptures are carved is very soft and treating the sculptures with a hardening agent means that the outer layer in winter would harden by freezing, but would peel off when thaw sets in, which eventually leads to large damage.

Surrounding the entire sandstone rock with a building that protects the sculptures against the weather, might technically be possible, but the question is whether that is financially and spatially acceptable.

this cold be the scene of the Rütli Oath

* Article by Ernst Lüscher, Steinskulpturen beim Sodhubel in Safenwil (Stone sculptures at the Sodhubel in Safenwil), in Magazine Heimatkunde Wiggertal, Volume 51 (1993)
* Article (March 2007) by Walter Hess, Sodhubel Safenwil: Friedensengel mit Löwe bei Rütlischwur (Sodhubel Safenwil: Angel of peace with lion at Rütli oath) 

Hans Widmer, 
Sodhubel sandsteinskulpturen,  
Höliweg, 5745 Safenwil, Canton of Aargau, Switzerland. 
can be visited
Google Maps (with pictures)

April 22, 2022

Henryk Sawko, Kamienny park / Stone park

near the entrance of the park (streetview)

The Paprotecka country road leading to the entrance of Henryk Sawko's Kamienny Park (Stone Park) in Poland, on one side is richly lined by rocks, as can be seen in the photo above and also on Google Streetview.

The visitor to the park thus gets a foretaste of an art environment that is largely formed by an exposition of stones, both those arranged in various geometric shapes and those transformed into sculptures.

the entrance of the park
this picture and the next ones (2017) courtesy
of Radek Łabarzewski from his  weblog Znalezienie
Life and works

In the late 1990s Henryk Sawko came up with the idea of building a stone memorial to mark the turn of the century, a project that in the early decades of the new century would evolve into a major art environment called Kamienny Park.

Sawko was born in 1950. In his younger years he was trained as a locksmith and he also liked to go out with his motorcycle to discover Poland. These travels convinced him that his native region of Mazuria was the most beautiful in all of Poland

He did not go to work as a locksmith, but became a farmer on a farm in the village of Rydzewo, which is part of the municipality of Miłki, in the Giżycki district of the Warmia/Mazuria region in the north-east of Poland. 

Sawko got married and the couple had children.

Sawko seated on the monument to the turn of the century

When in the late 1990s Sawko came up with the idea of making a memorial to the centenary, he was approaching the age of fifty. 

His children had left home,  farming became less and less profitable, so once the memorial was completed it was a small step to feel inspired to use the stones that abounded on his farmland, to create a park with an exposition of stones and stone sculptures.

Construction began on a hill in the land behind the farm. A striking self-built windmill was added to the hill, and was surrounded by an arrangement of stones. 

From the hill towards the house/farm, alignments of stones were laid that are reminiscent of the Neolithic arrangements as in Carnage, Brittany.

The photo below gives an impression of the way the stones are arranged, and the website Mazury 24 has aerial photos that very clearly depict the alignments of stones.

The alignments of stones are generally composed of quite large boulders, collected in the thousands by Sawko from the surrounding farmland. 

These lines are regularly interrupted by somewhat larger, upright stones that from a Neolithic point of view could be compared to menhirs . 

These larger stones are often worked and transformed into human characters or animals. Other stones, flatter in shape, can serve as a background for texts.

Around the  house

In addition to the rows of stones that creatively shape a large part of the area behind the former farm, the yard near the house and the associated barns are also part of the art environment. 

First of all, there is a collection of tools and implements that give a picture of farming as it was practiced on Masurian farms in former times.

In addition, Sawko has put his own hand-made decorations on the walls of buildings around the yard.

He decorated a whitewashed wall with black images, cut from metal, such as birds and other animals, but also sailing ships

* Article on website Mazury 24 with among other things, aerial photos of the alignments of stones
* Article by Radek Łabarzewski (March 2022) on weblog Znalezienie
* Article by Kamil Pietrowiak, "O sztuce, która niejedno ma imię. Przypadek Henryka Sawki, twórcy Kamiennego Parku w Rydzewie" (About art with many names. The case of Henryk Sawko, the creator of the Stone Park in Rydzewo)
Pietrowiak also wrote a thesis (defended in 2011) on Henryk Sawko and his creations: Mazurski malarz krajobrazu. O życiu i dziele Henryka Sawko, twórcy Kamiennego Parku w Rydzewie (Masurian landscape painter. About the life and work of Henryk Sawko, creator of the stone park in Rydzewo) 
 A large variety of photos collected by Pietrowiak and presented in a video (YouTube, 2013, 32'14")
A video by Pietrowiak, made in the context of his dissertation (YouTube, 12'02", 2013)

* A video by Mazury24eu (YouTube, undated, 1.15'47")

Henryk Sawko
Kamienny Park
Paprotecka 2, 11-513 Rydzewo, dept Mazuria, region Warmia/Mazuria, Poland
visitors welcome