Night Visitor, SEAhORSE, OLD MAN VÄINÄMÖINEN
In everyday thinking, sculptures are still perceived as solid, three-dimensional objects sculpted from bronze, wood or various stone materials. Jenni Tieaho has discovered her own personal expression that deviates from this tradition. She does not really sculpt, but shapes or builds her works from organic materials, such as willow, birch bark, wood and various plant parts. She says she gathers her materials from places of personal importance, such as campsites, cliffs, the slopes of blueberry forests or the sides of forest roads where hay grows. In the artist’s hands, these materials usually turn into large, skilfully constructed horses, swan boats and human-animal figures. The material basis does not seem to limit the artist’s imagination.
Tieaho’s sculptures lean strongly towards myths and Finnish folklore in particular, both in terms of implementation and their recognizable motifs. Some of her sculptures appear to be carrying a subconscious message from ancient times, as if the figures had survived to our days from the distant past to tell us about beliefs and customs from times when written language did not exist. One can easily imagine many of these totemic sculptures adorning the mythical villages of Kalevala and the gates of the North, the doors of evil. In the context of contemporary art, Tieaho’s works are related to the environmental and ecological art of the last few decades, particularly the endeavour to use organic materials for expressing our changing relationship with nature.
Jenni Tieaho (b. 1969) studied at the Kaitaa arts-oriented high school in 1987–89, at the Västra Nylands folkhöskola art program in 1989–90, at the Free Art School in 1990–91, at the Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Design, Furniture Design in 1991 and at the Maa Art School day program in 1995–99. She held her first solo exhibition in 1997. Jylhyys Hiidenhirvi (Rugged Moose), a public sculpture by Tieaho, was erected in Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki in 2017. The tar coated sculpture is made of brushed steel.
Studies and prizes
Jenni Tieaho, Seahorse, 2012, willow switch, wire. Photo: Vesa Aaltonen.
Artist photo: Tomi Pohja