October 03, 2009

Alpo Koivumäki, Alpon Savannilla / Alpo's Savanne

photo expo in Gaia-museum Denmark 2008,
website kunsten.nu

It would be nice to show with a lot of pictures how this rhino comes along in his habitat on Alpo Koivumäki's farm in Kauhajoki, Finland.

Unfortunately a post is too static a medium, but here is a more dynamic presentation, a 25'27" video by Erkki Pirtola (YouTube, 2014), recorded during various visits from 1995 on and very clearly showing Koivumäki's way of working (english subtitled).

Life and work 

Alpo Koivumäki (1939-2023) was a farmer until in 1995 new regulations of the European Union with regard to agriculture implied that he had to stop farming, financially compensated by the Finnish government.

At age 56 he gave his life a new direction by beginning to create all kind of animals, using scrap material from the farm, like oil drums, old tires, parts of engines, whatever.

picture courtesy of Minna Haveri

Koivumäki depicted lions, crocodiles, snakes, rhino's, elephants, birds, you name it, all together a menagerie that has become known as Alpo's Savanna.

The animals make a very animated impression, although composed of a combination of scrap materials. Just an empty oil drum on two legs would represent a lively bird.

overview of part of the art environment
picture (2018) from Ite-amanuenssi Elina Vuorimies' FB-page


Alpo Koivumäki's work has not remained unobserved. In the early years of this century he has been invited to show his work on outsider art expositions, not only in Finland, but also abroad, for example in the United Kingdom (London), in Hungary (Budapest), in Denmark (Gaia Museum) and in Germany (Neuhardenberg Palace).

 picture courtesy of oobio, Helsinki Times
The picture above shows a sculpture by Koivumäki, as exposed in the garden of the Gallen-Kallela Museum, Espoo, Finland (exposition A Kalevala Mindscape, September 2010 - January 2011).

Artist in residence

Several times Koivumäki has been invited to be an artist in residence and create an animal on spot. 

In June 2004 he stayed at the La Fabuloserie museum (Dicy, France), where he made an elk.

the elk in la Fabuloserie
picture (May 2014) by Raija Kallioinen

He also made sculptures for the Thurgau Kunstmuseum (Switzerland). 

sculpture of a horse (2009)
picture courtesy of the Thurgau Museum

In 2009 he made a horse, in 2011 a female bearThe latter project was annex to an exhibition the museum had from January 23, 2011 until May 15, 2011, entitled Weltensammler, outsider art from the private collection of  Korine and Max Ammann.

Reorganization of the site in June 2018

In the course of the month of June 2018, the site has been reorganized in such a way that the sculptures are shown more coherently on a Piazza. Volunteers helped to realize this project, which officially was opened on June 30, 2018.

this photo (2019) by Minna Haveri, published on Facebook
gives an impression of part of the newly arranged sculptures

Koivumaki became ITE-artist of the year 2023 and passed away in the spring

Early 2023 it was announced hat Alpo Koivumaki was selected as ITE-artist of the year 2023. 

However, in the same year a serious illness struck him and in the spring it was reported that he had passed away on May 13, 2023.

* Website of Alpo's Savanne
* Notes and pictures (July/August 2018) on the weblog of Sophie Lepetit, here, here and here
* Note and pictures (undated) by Minna Haveri on the ITE taide website 
* Article by Minna Haveri on SPACES website (published 2012)
* Post (in English, August 2013) on weblog Sacred Mischief
* Booklet Alpon Savannilla, by Erkki Pirtola, Loviisa Kautiainen, Minna Haveri, Marja-Terttu Kivirinta, Seppo Knuuttila and Liisa Ruismäki. Kauhajoki-seura, 2019. -172 p.

* Video by Mauri Turunen (1'54". YouTube,  April 2017,

first published October 2009, last revised May 2023

Alpo Koivumäki 
Alpo Savannilla 
Sarantie 672
61900 Nummijärvi, Kauhajoki, Southern Ostrobothnia, Western and Central Finland 
can be visited in summer


  1. Hi Henk, these creations are simply fabulous, can't believe how real they look ! We are so very lucky to have you tracking down all these sites for us which otherwise we might never have come across... thank you... !

  2. My pleasure too, Owen. I feel lucky myself to make these discoveries. Have a good weekend.

  3. Спасибо уважаемый Хенк!