No one knew that this Finnish factory worker was secretly an artist until he passed away, leaving behind an entire forest filled with his sculptures.
Veijo Rönkkönen was considered to be a recluse. He spent his entire life traveling only to and from his farm and the paper factory where he worked for 41 years. He was never trained as an artist, but when he died in 2010, but following his death in 2010, over 500 concrete figures were discovered sprawled throughout the forest where he lived. Now known as the Veijo Rönkkönen Sculpture Garden, the extensive outdoor museum is a result of 50 years of loving artistry that currently attracts around 40,000 visitors annually.
The forest surrounding his home is packed with sculptures of human figures of all ages and cultures portraying every type of emotion you can imagine.
Born in 1944, Rönkkönen started working at the mill when he was just 16 years old. In addition to carving figures, Rönkkönen also put significant effort into planting flowers and trees on the land. As legend has it, when he earned his first paycheck at the age of 16, he purchased apple tree seedlings and a bag of concrete, the foundation for his 50-year-long passion project.
The location, which is now known as the Veijo Rönkkönen Sculpture Garden, draws about 25,000 visitors yearly. The ambiance of the woods, which are haunted by the community of figures that Rönkkönen’s own hands so carefully sculpted, also draws visitors in addition to the artwork.
Many people consider the artwork to be a little unsettling. While older adults sit in traditional attire, children hold each other up in the air. Some appear to be grinning at onlookers while others have mouths full of actual human teeth. Others have internal speakers that make strange noises.
There is even an area that is home to 255 near-naked figures practising yoga. Yoga is actually one of Rönkkönen’s only hobbies that we know about, apart, of course, from making art.
While some of the artwork at Rönkkönen is disturbing, the community there is more than just an installation or a sculpture park. The forest there is unquestionably quite magical, bringing together a variety of different worlds in one location. Given that the artist hasn’t really encountered this outside world in real life, it feels particularly meaningful.