Contemporary art Finland

Helsinki to get new art park

The avant-garde stage director Robert Wilson is designing a new public space dedicated to celebrated Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala

A rendering of the park at night

HELSINKI. This summer, construction is set to start on an art park for Helsinki, dedicated to the Finish designer Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985) and designed by American artist and avant-garde stage director Robert Wilson. “Art in public space is high on our agenda and inaugurating the park in 2012 when Helsinki is World Design Capital fits very well”, said architect Klas Fontell of the public art department of the Helsinki City Art Museum, which oversees all the art in public spaces in the Finish capital.

Wilson’s plans for the rectangular park feature a central square divided into nine equally sized fields separated by bushes. Each field will be installed with objects related to the home. For example, one unit will consist of a small fireplace surrounded by stones that serve as seating. The park will be lit by large, lightbox-style lamps build into the ground and by smaller ones modelled on ordinary floor lamps.

Tapio Wirkkala, after whom the park is named, was one of Finland’s foremost designers and worked for tableware producers Iittala and Rosenthal. It was Wirkkala’s daughter Mariaa, a visual artist who represented Finland at the Venice Biennale in 2007, who had the idea to commission Wilson for the project.

The park is situated in the Arabianranta district of Helsinki, an area historically known for its ceramics factories, and still the home of Iittala and several other companies. Also nearby is the Aalto University School of Architecture and Design, known as Taik. The park is between this commercial area and recently built houses. “We want to create a place to be enjoyed by people from the area,” said Tuula Isohanni, who works at Taik and has been responsible for choosing artists to create works for the new residential developments. A webcam is following the construction progress with hourly updates.

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