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24 May 2017 / leggypeggy

Sculptures create a spooky atmosphere

Parikkala sculpture park

Standing yoga pose

Parikkala sculpture park

Lunging yoga pose and many more in the background

Go see the sculpture park in Parikkala, suggested the woman at the tourist office in Lappeenranta, Finland, it is just near the Russian border and has more than 500 statues.

It was only about an hour up the road on our drive to Joensuu, so we figured why not.

Little did we realise that this field of concrete figures would deliver creepy, exotic, weird, athletic, artistic, spooky, grotesque and remarkable all at the same time.

The park, which you enter on foot from a roadside rest area, showcases 50 years of work by self-taught artist, Veijo Rönkkönen, who died in 2010 at the age of 66.

Rönkkönen was a bit of recluse and had limited social skills. He worked at the mill, but spent all his spare time practicing yoga and creating 550 sculptures. Almost half of them (255) are of human forms in yoga poses and many of those are barely disguised self-portraits of the artist. He often said the park was a monument to his young body.

He cast his first sculpture in 1961. That piece drew a lot of attention from the community and encouraged Rönkkönen to keep producing.

The yoga pieces show all sorts of yoga positions, while the more general human (and alien) forms have a certain eeriness about them, especially because many are fitted with human teeth and glass eyeballs. I haven’t been able to find out where he got the teeth!

After Rönkkönen’s mother died in 1996, he focused solely on sculptures of children. Many thought it was his way of detaching himself from an unhappy childhood.

In the last months before his death, Rönkkönen completed a project he had been working on for many years—a parade of about 100 children. They are being led by a drummer boy marching towards the park exit. Some say the boy represents Rönkkönen stepping out into the world.

Another large display is of sculptures seeming to walk along the path through the park. They are of all shapes and sizes.

Rönkkönen never thought about ensuring the park’s future. When people asked, he would say he wanted to bury the park in sand and leave it in a thousand year’s silence, like the Chinese Terracotta Army.

Nevertheless, he hoped the park would be remembered and considered important to other people—in 2007 he received the Suomi Award from the Minister for Culture for his achievements in art.

His wish was realised. The new owner, Reino Uusitalo, was keen to have the park continue. In 2011 an association was founded to safeguard the park’s future. Volunteers offer their time and expertise to preserve the park and to broaden the scale of activities carried out there.

Two volunteers were doing a spring clean when we were there.

Park admission is free, but a sign recommends a donation of 5 euros per person. We gladly contributed, but it is rather disconcerting that the donation box is a concrete head with human teeth. Trust me, the teeth are sharp and the mouth isn’t open very far.

P.S. The woman at the tourist office gave us another great suggestion—a museum of mechanical instruments coming soon. And if all this talk of teeth has made you hungry, try out the recipe for banana chocolate chunk muffins on my cooking blog.

Parikkala sculpture park

Parade of children led by drummer boy

Parikkala sculpture park

The parade continues

101 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. magarisa / May 24 2017 6:54 am

    Bizarre and spooky indeed, especially the teeth!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The Year I Touched My Toes / May 24 2017 7:01 am

    Are they actual dentures? That one is particularly creepy. Well this guy has certainly left something behind which will be around for a while. As you and Poor John said to yourselves, why not? Louise

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 24 2017 1:32 pm

      They are dentures, or so the literature says. Not something you find lying around every day. And yes, this garden of ghoul is here to stay.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Miriam / May 24 2017 7:14 am

    Well that was fascinating Peggy but definitely more than just a little creepy. I’m off to check out those muffins now!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. jeanettev2014 / May 24 2017 7:14 am

    What an interesting place.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. beetleypete / May 24 2017 7:35 am

    Strange and unusual indeed, Peggy. Quite an adventure.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. BoomingOn / May 24 2017 7:46 am

    Not quite like the Rodin park in Paris.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 24 2017 1:35 pm

      Too true. A very long way from the works of Rodin. I wrote about his garden here.

      Like

  7. Phil Huston / May 24 2017 8:23 am

    That is creepy beyond the ability of vocabulary to describe. I would take your “creepy, exotic, weird, athletic, artistic, spooky, grotesque and remarkable and just add mega to them all. A bit of a recluse? Minimal social skills? The guy had himself a whole field of imaginary friends, though. Like the Christmas village and Trainset people on crack.

    Liked by 3 people

    • leggypeggy / May 24 2017 1:37 pm

      I love your comment, Phil. It says everything I forgot to add to the post.

      Like

  8. Alison and Don / May 24 2017 8:53 am

    Wow, what an extraordinary place. I’m glad there are people maintaining it. The sculptor was a character no doubt. It often amazes me the things people are compelled to put their energy into. Some sculptures are indeed creepy, but some are quite lovely.
    Alison

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 24 2017 1:38 pm

      Oh yes, creativity abounds in this place. I was pleased to know that Finland honoured his contribution to art.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Chris Riley / May 24 2017 9:05 am

    A collection that wouldn’t be much admired im sure, but certainly couldn’t be ignored. Perhaps as he himself was as a child. The mossy growth added another dimension, a bit of charm to the otherwise grotesque. And that alien!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 24 2017 1:39 pm

      Glad you noticed the moss. I meant to mention it in the post. It does add an ancient, other-worldly aspect to many of the sculptures.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Curt Mekemson / May 24 2017 9:19 am

    Okay, weird is the word I would use, Peggy, although refreshingly so. I would go out of my way to see the sculptures, for sure. It would be interesting to know more about the teeth, however. –Curt

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Sy.S / May 24 2017 10:04 am

    Weird, weird, weird… to the nth degree!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. phyllis / May 24 2017 10:12 am

    Amazing! Wish I could see it!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Christy B / May 24 2017 10:14 am

    The teeth make them creepy.. but they are doing the yoga poses well 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. heidi ruckriegel / May 24 2017 10:32 am

    Please tell me the teeth aren’t real… I’m going to have nightmares tonight!

    Like

  15. Akuokuo / May 24 2017 10:34 am

    Wowee! Unusual and so alive.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. gerard oosterman / May 24 2017 11:01 am

    They are all looking so silent or mute, yet seem to carry a strange fascination. Somehow very Finnish, brooding perhaps?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sharon Bonin-Pratt / May 24 2017 11:29 am

    Totally weird but very interesting. But so very weird!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. marple25mary / May 24 2017 12:52 pm

    What a fascinating and yes, kind of creepy place, but in a fun way. Love all these photos. I’d love to visit that place in person someday!

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 24 2017 1:45 pm

      We were so glad we made the effort to find it. It’s rather fun to read some of the comments on tripadvisor. People love it or hate it.

      Like

  19. Ashwini Nawathe / May 24 2017 2:57 pm

    Gosh such a creepy place! Perfect place for a horror movie. I hope these sculptures don’t come to life at night like that movie “Night in the Museum”. Their teeth look so real.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 24 2017 7:10 pm

      Great idea for a movie setting! And, yes, their teeth are real!

      Like

  20. voulaah / May 24 2017 4:15 pm

    What a fascinating discover, so interesting this place
    thnak you so much for sharing beautiful images
    kisses

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Schnippelboy / May 24 2017 4:34 pm

    Ja die faszinieren

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Brian Lageose / May 24 2017 5:04 pm

    This place attracts me in an odd but comforting manner…

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Sadaf Siddiqi / May 24 2017 5:54 pm

    What a great way to end it with banana chocolate chunk muffins!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Vicki / May 24 2017 8:00 pm

    Absolutely extraordinary (but I’m so very glad to hear the park and statues is being preserved).

    Those teeth give me the creeps though.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 25 2017 1:51 am

      Yeah, the teeth are weird. Imagine putting your donation in to a toothy grin?!

      Like

  25. Midwestern Plant Girl / May 24 2017 8:05 pm

    Very creepy and bizarre…
    Just my type of place! 😉
    Yes. The teeth and glass eyes are a nice touch 🤤 Love the hula hoop girl, that couldn’t have been easy.
    Interesting… he dedicated this to his ‘young body’… I again, feel his pain.
    We love finding these types of places. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / May 25 2017 1:53 am

      We were so glad the woman at the tourist office recommended it. Otherwise we’d have missed it completely—not well sign-posted.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. derrickjknight / May 24 2017 8:31 pm

    Nicely chosen focussing.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Sartenada / May 24 2017 8:53 pm

    They are different art. I have made during years two posts from them. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  28. spearfruit / May 24 2017 9:29 pm

    Oh yes, I certainly would enjoy this. I find this type of atmosphere fascinating. Thanks Peggy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Green Global Trek / May 24 2017 11:32 pm

    I cannot say I like these sculptures, they are definitely weird as you say. However, I do respect the fact that an artist has such a large body of work and passion for his subject matter and the artistic process. What stamina over the years to stick with it.

    Thanks for sharing.. definitely a most unusual sculpture park.

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 25 2017 1:59 am

      I’m with you. I can’t say I like this work, but I’m very glad I saw it.

      Like

  30. pvcann / May 25 2017 12:44 am

    Now that is truly different, I’ve not seen the likes of that before, amazing visual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 25 2017 2:00 am

      A first for me too, although I read today that there is another weird sculpture park in the west of Finland. Darn, we missed that one.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. J.D. Riso / May 25 2017 1:15 am

    I love creepy, offbeat attractions like this. Finland is an eerie place anyway, so I’m sure this added to that ambiance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 25 2017 1:44 am

      I’ve got another weird Finnish one coming up, although the photographs make it look rather normal.

      Like

  32. robertcday / May 25 2017 1:22 am

    That’s got to win the prize for the weirdest blog post I have seen in a very long time, Peggy! Fascinating stuff! Who would have thought that someone was busy creating these sculptures while I was busy living my ordinary, hum-drum life! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 25 2017 1:46 am

      I know, I know. There I was rearing kids, cooking and cleaning when I could have been working with wax or bricks or wool or anything. I suppose it’s not too late to start something new!

      Liked by 1 person

      • robertcday / May 25 2017 1:56 am

        Never too late! 🙂
        Apart from when it is. 😦
        Hmm.

        Liked by 1 person

  33. Paul S / May 25 2017 2:59 am

    This looks very eerie, like something out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 25 2017 4:23 am

      Oh yes, like something out of ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’.

      Like

  34. kkessler833 / May 25 2017 3:13 am

    I agree! they are spooky!

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Oh!!! Is it not our pumpkin Day…sooo spooky halloween award!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Unplugged Creations / May 26 2017 1:58 am

    Did I just saw a horrooor movie

    Liked by 1 person

  37. lorriedeck / May 26 2017 4:06 am

    those are awesome! I love how the moss gives them hair. Very neat!!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. lexklein / May 27 2017 12:09 am

    Truly bizarre! I know I would have gone to look but I might have regretted it afterward – I am easily creeped out! Thanks for going for me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  39. dinkgo / May 27 2017 1:10 am

    We are from Finland (Turku), but haven’t visited. On our list, this odd place!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 27 2017 1:52 am

      Oh yes go. It is an odd place, but will be especially good on a sunny day.

      Liked by 1 person

  40. milliethom / May 28 2017 6:22 pm

    I think you hit the right word when you included ‘remarkable’ in your description of these sculptures, Peggy. ‘Creepy’ is appropriate too, for some of them. It looks a great place to visit and nicely out of the ordinary enough to capture the imagination. I enjoyed reading about Ronkkonen and his love of the Park – and yoga. Very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 29 2017 1:05 am

      Thanks Millie. I’m so glad we didn’t miss this remarkable and creepy place. The woman at the tourist office in Lappeenranta gave us the names of two top places to see. The other is coming soon!

      Like

  41. jeanleesworld / May 31 2017 1:11 pm

    Okay, in my book, this totally counts as nightmare fuel. Like, I could see myself stumbling into this place at night, and it’s dark, and no one else is there, and just peeing in my pants with fear.

    That said, this TOTALLY counts as fantastic story material. 😉 xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / May 31 2017 5:15 pm

      Feel free to use it any way you can, set to spooky music if possible. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeanleesworld / Jun 1 2017 4:11 am

        I’m pretty sure I will! I’ve been toying with shorter pieces and even some flash fic, so I may have to approach you for official permission to use a picture to pair with a piece. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Jun 1 2017 4:13 am

        Jean, you are most welcome to use any of the pics. And if you’re looking for something different, I have more to choose from.

        Like

  42. Really interesting article with amazing sculptures ! Yoga !

    Liked by 1 person

  43. afterthelasttime / Jun 3 2017 3:37 pm

    From memory there is an island of play dolls in Louisiana, for spooky it has these beat! No contest.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 3 2017 3:46 pm

      Oh wow, I’ll need to add that to my must-see list.

      Like

  44. Grand Designs / Jul 4 2017 5:12 pm

    Scarily brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

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