January 16, 2010

Elis Sinistö, Villa Mehu

this picture and the next four (around 2012) courtesy of Katla, 
Heathen Harvest website

Life and works

In the 1950s Elis Sinistö (1912-2004) from Finland settled on a plot of wood in the community of Kirkkonummi, where he founded his own domicile, using all kinds of recycled materials to construct various buildings, such as a house to live in (as on the next picture), a temple, a sauna, a guest house and various other constructions.

Sinistö's house

Here he would welcome visitors, making a dance, reading some poetry, or inviting them to make a walk around the adjacent pond.

For visitors who wanted to stay overnight, Sinistö had constructed a guest house, as in next picture.

a guest house

Sinistö incorporated a lot of qualities in one person, he was a philosopher, a yogi, a dancer, singer, poet, performer.... and he did not care about property, nor about the so called prosperity of western society....

He has been quoted saying that he did not own anything, it was just mother Earth that owned him. His life, he said, just was "pure being".

Grown up in a poor, not very warm family, in the 1930s Sinistö traveled the country to find work, doing small jobs.

In the 1940s he had to fulfill military service, but his refusal to carry a weapon and his vegetarianism brought him into trouble and resulted in a psychiatric admission for some time.

balcony of mountain cottage

After the war Sinistö became a professional dancer for theater companies, and he also was a painters model. With the money earned in these jobs he could buy the plot of land in the woods, where he single-handedly constructed his Villa Mehu.

No future for this site

After Sinistö's death in 2004 the property was legated to a folk art music foundation, which ensured that interested people could visit the site, However, this foundation in 2011 went bankrupt and since the site with its buildings was a collateral for loans the foundation had contracted, it had to be sold.

It was bought by a neighbor, who in July 2013 told a Finnish newspaper that due to lack of funds it was not possible to renovate the already dilapidated structures. Just the ones from stone, the headstone and the pond where Sinitstö's ashes were scattered, will be retained.

The photo below, made in May 2019, shows the gradual degradation of the site.

picture (2019) courtesy of Mike Inglis

You dream about the emptiness

Mike Inglis from Scotland, around 2019 spent some time in Sinistö's art environment,  immersing himself in this now uninhabited world of woodland structures set in the tranquility and privacy of the remote Finish forests. Trying to understand the fantastical mind of Sinistö, he made this video (available on Vimeo)

* Jan Kaila's weblog with portraits of Sinistö
* Article and pictures on the ITEnet website
A series of photos (2018) by Sophie Lepetit on her weblog, here and here
* In summer 2020 two Finnish articles were published about Sinistö's legacy, both with a variety of illustrations:
       - on website Urbanex-ninja (June 10, 2020)
       - on weblog Styleheaven-marjorie (July 4, 2020)
* Video by Lauri Ainala (YouTube, uploaded August 2009, 5'03")

* Video by Erkki Pirtola, in two parts (You Tube, June 2012, 9'50" and 9"51)

first published January 2010, last revised April 2021

Elis Sinistö
Villa Mehu 
Veklahdentie 242
02400 Kirkkonummi, Uusima, Southern Finland
site extant, but slowly deteriorating
can be visited by the public


  1. Remarkable photos on the blog you refer to. If you go to youtube and type in "proof Eccleston" there's a video that I find quite moving which these photos remind me of.

  2. Thanks Susan, I took a look at the video and indeed, it has something in common with the pictures of Sinistö in the weblog. That timid smile at the end, very impressive.

  3. As you may have already noticed Henk, fortunately most of the times, Finnish outsider creations are kindly and eagerly protected by the people. Finnish is a people who has spent just a very few generations in the city, and they still feel a matter of spiritual proximity to nature. They still found a feeling of safe and shelter when got back to the forest. It is not to surprise therefore, to realize that Finland is such a fertile soil for the development of such those kind of artistic expresions or statements on how the life would be lived and understood, and also, that people would feel fascinated whenever an individual like this appear in scene, daring to cut the strings that modern life and society attach to the individual. Mr. Sinistö seemed to have found a trascendent purpose for life, by feeling himself as a part of a whole, and considered the human life just as a matter of attempt by nature, to take self conscience of its own existance and in that way, surpassing the narrow limits of the human existance. Very inspiring post.

  4. That is an interesting view you have, Alberto Oliver, about the still prevalent relation between the finnish people and their countryside and forests. I think there is a lot of truth in this. Doing this weblog I always wonder why some countries generate more of these kind of creative environments than others. Thanks a lot for making this observation.

  5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBCgMPfeaGo Here's some video footage from Elis' wunderländ

  6. @anonymous
    Thanks a lot for this referral. This wunderland is a funtastic place indeed... ;-))

  7. I had the honour to have contact whith Elis Sinistö before he left. I belive he would be glad to see people visiting his place. He donated the area "to the artists" after his ninetieth birthday.
    The nature is taking over the place, like it should.
    "Onnellisinta on olla onnellinen" (Happies - to be happy) - his motto is carved in the rock by the little pool, where his aches were scattered.

    Whith greeting to everybody, to whom the forest whispers
    from the other side of lake Humaljärvi