May 09, 2009

Veijo Rönkkönen, Patsapuisto/Sculpture Park


this picture and the next one provided by Rikka Lempiänen 
to Pelastakaa Parikkalan patsaspuisto (Facebook)

The picture shows part of the around 500 sculptures made by Veijo Rönkkönen (1944-2010), as displayed around the house where he lived in the neighbourhood of Parikalla in the south-east of Finland.

Life and works

At age sixteen, in 1960, young Veijo Rönkkönen went to work in a local paper mill. Around the same time he began making sculptures, mainly depicting people in a rather naturalistic way. He displayed these creations in the parklike garden of the family house.



One of the features of his work is a collection of about two hundred males in various asanas (yoga poses) , displayed as a group in a part of the park. Compared to what would be exercised in a yoga class these are many poses (and a lot of sculptures too...)


picture courtesy of Carlos Hoyos, Flickr, april 2009 

All his life Rönkkönen lived in the house were he was born, first with his parents and later, after his parents had died, alone. He liked to be on his own and was not much around in his garden to meet visitors. 

The exposition of sculptures has become rather popular i Finland. In the years before Rönkkönnen died every summer some 25.000 people would visit the site. It had become a tourist attraction indeed. 

Although Rönkkönen would not meet them personally, these visitors were very welcome and they didn't have to pay an entrance fee, provided they signed the guestbook.

Veijo Rönkkönen also did not like the idea that his sculptures would be transported to be shown on expositions. However, he is one of the self-taught artists whose work could be seen (by photographs, I presume) on an exposition in 2009 about nordic outsider art, entitled Other Art (see also my post of july 19, 2009)

In 2007 the Finnish state awarded Rönkkönen with a national cultural price. 

Early 2010 Veijo Rönkkönnen unexpectedly died

No arrangements for the future of the sculpture garden had been made and admirers of his creations took action to save the site for the future. Both a group of friends and a committee of experts on outsider art were active in promoting the continuity of the site.

sculptures along the entrance of the park

Future of the site assured

In october 2010 it was announced that the site (house and garden) had been bought by Reino Uusitalo, owner of one of the most important finnish paper industries. 

Plans have been developed to provide the site with its own management and to ensure a sustainable exploitation of the site.

On July 23, 2011 the site was reopened for the public. It was featured with an exposition in memory of Veijo Rönkkönen, which lasted untill september 30, 2011

More documentation
* Veli Granö, Veijo Rönkkösen todellinen elämä (The real life of Veijo Rönkkönen), Maahenki, 2007. (in finnish, summary in english on Books from Finland)
* Video showing the sculpture garden in wintertime (6'46", by 45vv, Youtube, uploaded april 2012)



* Video by Veli Granö (9'05", uploaded nov 2013) with neighbours talking about Rönkkönen (subtitles in english)

 

first published may 2009, revised oct 2010, jul, nov 2011, aug, dec 2012, oct 2014, jan dec 2015

Veijo Rönkkönen
Sculpture Garden 
Kuutostie 611
Koitsanlahti 
Parikkala, Finland
public visits: in summer tue-fri 9.30-17, sat 9.30-15
streetview 

4 comments:

  1. Amazing Henk... I'm running to keep up with you these days... many, many thanks for your message, will get back shortly, have been up to my eyeballs in alligators... my wife does yoga, she's going to like this one alot... don't know when we'll be able to go to Finland though !
    Best, Owen

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  2. Dear Mr. Henk Van Es.

    Im very honoured for you to visited and read my blog. Thank you for your very kind opitions. Im now enjoying your blog as well. Yes, i cannot hide my admiration for the artist who draw and follow of course, their own path. It is maybe in those outer circles where someone can follow the traces of the changes that give form to history of art. Mr. Rönkkönen for example is aware of the tolls the freedom takes, but that is no reason for him to give it up on his personal satndings and points of view. Is in there when somebody can bump with the more honest kind of art manifestations. At least, on my point on view.

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  3. There is a story, that during a great war in 1700's two young men (teen?) we captured nearby The Lake Pyhäjärvi (south east from Oulu city), where Rönkkö families lived, to help building St. Petersbourg. Yet they managed to run away, probably not that far way from the Veijo's site. It's being said that one of those brothers was the first Rönkkönen. Why the name change - we are not sure. However 'nen' can mean 'smallish' in Finnish language allowing us to guess that this person who was not necessarily a grown up, was called 'smallish Rönkkö', i.e. Rönkkönen. Br, TR

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  4. @ Anonymous: quite interesting information, thanks a lot.

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