May 10, 2024

Pekka Helenius, Tao Tao Puisto / Tao Tao Art park

this picture and the next five courtesy of Pekka Helenius
as published on Google Streetview

Located in the Greater Helsinki region, Nurmijärvi with its more than 44,000 inhabitants, is one of the largest rural municipalities in Finland.

The community, with characteristic village centers, is close to nature, for example in the Kaukkala agglomeration of Nurmijärvi, there is a wooded area.

An art environment in a forest

In this forest the Tao Tao Art park is located, an art environment shaped from the mid-1990s by Pekka Helenius, assisted by his wife Anne. 

The site was only recently given that name. In October 2021, the then designation Spiru's workshop was changed into Tao Tao, and this name was upgraded to Tao Tao Art Park in May 2022.

The site became better known in Finland and beyond through an inventory study aimed at expressions of ITE art (=outsider art) in the Uusimaa region (2022-2024), carried out by the Finnish Association for Rural Culture and Education MSL.

Life and works

Pekka Helenius, who created this art environment, was born in 1966.

He had a difficult childhood because he was bullied at school and his parents didn't notice that or were unable to help him. In the years that followed the period at school, the effects of that bullying led to a less stable, vulnerable life for Helenius, often with pain.

However, this ailment went away after Helenius in the mid-1990s started creating an art environment in the forest of Kaukkala. About this Helenius himself said on Facebook:
I've been doing this job for almost 30 years, due to illness I couldn't move forward.
I've been making creations in the Tao Tao park for a while at the workshop even in a lot of pain. The disease has been defeated and quite simply, nobody noticed.

Helenius did a training as a shoemaker and during that training he also got lessons in working with iron. 

The blacksmith skills he acquired from these lessons served him well when he became active in adding  decorations to the art environment.

The site includes a forge where Helenius assembles metal creations in many sizes and appearances, that get a place in the park. 

As materials he uses all kinds of metal items such as pieces of scrap metal, parts of cutlery and horseshoes, in short, everything that can be processed in a forge.

His collection of sculptures, both small ones such as an ensemble of six spoons and large ones such as a metal bush with waving branches, includes several hundred creations that are placed in the forest along a rocky and stony path.

Pekka himself says that his subconscious thoughts become visible in his creations. 

When he is forging iron, he is simultaneously shaping his feelings. The Tao Tao park can be seen as a representation of a kind of knitting, in which the visitor can see visions or make unexpected discoveries.

this picture courtesy of Pekka Helenius
as published on his Facebook account

Located in a forest, the art environment managed by Pekka and Anne Helenius offers visitors the opportunity to relax and reflect all year round and in changing seasons.

Article by Veli Granö on MSL website
* Announcement with info about contact on MSL website

* Video (October 2023, YouTube, 2'43") by MSL

Pekka and Anne Helenius
Tao Tao Art park
Julmankalliontie 2
Nurmijärvi, dept Uusimaa, region Southern Finland,  Finland
guided tours for a small fee, on appointment

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