Have you ever thought of the things you will leave behind when you leave this world? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your legacy was a work of art?
Before his death, not many knew the exceptional skills of Veijo Rönkkönen, but after he passed away, he left behind a forest filled with Secret Sculptures that became a popular tourist site.
Around 25 thousand visitors visit the Veijo Rönkkönen Sculpture Garden every year, which is located in the woods around the home of the artist.
The place is the home of around 550 figures on the grounds, including people in traditional dress, and statues of children holding each other up in the air.
Almost all sculptures depict human figures, of all ages and ethnicities, frozen in moments of play, athleticism, and even agony.
The secret sculptures have creepy smiles, sunken, blank eyes, and gaunt proportions, so the entire garden seems like a piece of some other world.
Some of the figures have speakers inside, that emit unintelligible sounds, while others have real human teeth which seem to grin eerily at visitors. Their expressions range from ecstatic to aggressive, and their gazes from intent to vacant. Some figures are covered in green moss, and others have flowers sprouting from their stomach.
More than 200 male statues are doing yoga poses, and many believe they are self-portraits of the artist himself. Rönkkönen once said that the park was a monument to the memory of his young body.
Therefore, the sculpture park is considered one of the strangest art displays known to man.
Veijo Rönkkönen was born in 1944 Parikalla, Finland, and at the age of 16, he started working at a local paper mill, where he pressed liquid from paper pulp. He worked at the mill for the next 41 years.
He rarely went anywhere else and was known as a recluse.
He started his sculptures as soon as he began working at the mill, and many claim that he used the first paycheck to buy apple seeds and a bag of concrete.
People remember him as a very well-read man, and his statues show his knowledge of the world, even though he rarely traveled anywhere.
He didn’t reveal his art while he was alive. He neither discouraged visitors, but as his collection of sculptures grew, he didn’t take an active role in the tourism activities that they sparkled.
The park became highly attractive to people over the years. Rönkkönen avoiding meeting them, but he charged no entrance fee and kept a guestbook for visitors to sign when they left the garden.
In 2007, he won the Finlandia prize (a multi-disciplinary prize granted annually), but he refused to leave his house, so he didn’t attend the ceremony, and his brother received it in his name.
He also refused to lend his statues to museums or expositions and said that before his death, he would like to bury the entire place in sand and leave it like the Chinese Terracotta Army.
Yet, Rönkkönen died in 2010, and the Finnish Businessman Reino Uusitalo bought the farm and planned to provide it with management to maintain it.
On July 23, 2011, the site was reopened to the public, with an exhibit honoring the artist that remained in place until September 30, 2011.
So, if you ever go to Finland, make sure you go to see this unique garden!