Women in public sculptures in Helsinki

Alpo Sailo: Larin Paraske
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Helsinki has almost 500 public sculptures and historical monuments. We chose eight of these works of art that either depict, are dedicated to, or were sculpted by women.

Alpo Sailo: Larin Paraske, 1949

The only statue in Helsinki in the likeness of an actual woman is Alpo Sailo’s (1877-1955) memorial to Larin Paraske (1833-1904), a central figure in Finnish folk poetry. Paraske’s poems were an irreplaceable source of Karelian culture. She could recite over 32,000 verses, making her the single most important source of folk poetry in Finland. Sailo's models for the realistic bronze statue included portraits of Paraske made during her lifetime by the likes of Albert Edelfelt (1854-1905). The translation of the inscription reads “To a Finnish rural artist and recorder of folk poetry and folklore”.
Hakasalmi Park, Etu-Töölö

Essi Renvall's 'Statue of Peace', blue sky, sea and the bushes of the local park behind it.
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Essi Renvall: Statue of Peace, 1968

The unveiling of the Statue of Peace was part of the official celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1968. The statue was made by Essi Renvall (1911-1979), who was a star in the Finnish art scene at the time and was known especially for her portraits of children and writers. She explained that the statue's female figure is the spirit of peace returning after a war with a new, peaceful heart. 
Ehrenströmintie 12, Kaivopuisto

Eila Hiltunen: Sibelius-monumentti, 1967
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Eila Hiltunen: Passio Musicae / Sibelius Monument, 1967

Eila Hiltunen (1922-2003) was a pioneer in Finnish sculpting. Her work started to become more abstract in the late 1950s. The rugged expressiveness of her works was influenced by her welding technique, which can be seen in her Sibelius Monument. The monument to the legendary Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Helsinki. Made of acid-resistant steel, the hollow sculpture echoes voices and sounds. It is worth remembering that the work of Jean Sibelius was very much made possible by the support of his gifted wife Aino Sibelius (1871-1969).
Sibelius Park, Taka-Töölö

Aimo Tukiainen: The Torch
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Aimo Tukiainen: The Torch / Memorial to Miina Sillanpää, 1968

Miina Sillanpää (1866-1952) was a journalist and one of the most influential political figures in Finland in the early 20th century. She was a Member of Parliament from 1907 to 1947 and Finland's first female Cabinet Member from 1926 to 1927. As Minister of Social Affairs she paid special attention to the conditions of working women and single mothers. The abstract bronze sculpture by Aimo Tukiainen (1917-1996) stands 5.5 metres tall and was unveiled on 4 June 1968, the 102nd anniversary of the birth of Miina Sillanpää.
Tokoinranta, Kallio

Laila Pullinen: Itämeren tytär / Maila Talvion muistomerkki, 1971
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Laila Pullinen: The Daughter of the Baltic / Maila Talvio Memorial, 1971

One of the most famous Finnish sculptors, Laila Pullinen (1933-2015) was also the first sculptor in Finland to combine bronze and stone in her art. The dramatic working methods she employed in the 1960s, from explosives to submachine guns, are no less stunning today. The Daughter of the Baltic is a memorial to the author Maila Talvio (1871-1951), who was a prominent figure in Finland's cultural life. The memorial was erected in the former location of Professor J.J. Mikkola's and Maila Talvio's cultural home. In fact, the remains of the building itself are part of the memorial, as the stone foundations of the torn-down main building features an earth relief by Laila Pullinen named “The Baltic Sea” that was unveiled in 1992.
Maila Talvio Park, Seurasaarentie, Meilahti

Raimo Utriainen: The Curtain
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Raimo Utriainen: The Curtain / Memorial to actress Ida Aalberg, 1972

Ida Aalberg (1857-1915) was a famed star of the Finnish Theatre who was considered the best actress in the Nordic countries in her time. She was described by contemporaries as a “goddess”, “enchanting” and “amazing”, and theatre-goers felt she brought a kind of magic to the stage. Raimo Utriainen’s (1927-1994) 9-metre high bronze memorial, set on a red granite pedestal, is based on the heavy yet dynamic movement of a theatre curtain.. 
Kaisaniemi Park, in front of the Small Stage of the Finnish National Theatre, Kluuvi

Heikki Häiväoja: Memorial to Women in Times of War, 1996

Heikki Häiväoja’s sculpture was the first national memorial honouring and commemorating the work performed by women during the wars of 1939-1945. Alongside their own work, women in Finland had to fill in for 400,000 men who were fighting on the frontline. The sculpture comprises an 8-metre-tall steel tower on top of a grey granite plinth containing reliefs depicting women working on the home front at home, in factories, on farms, in various institutions and even on the war front. The translation of the inscription reads “In honour of women in times of war” with the years 1939-1945 in gold letters between the reliefs.
Porthaninrinne, Kallio

Panu Patomäki: The Worker Mother
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Panu Patomäki: The Worker Mother, 1996

The Worker Mother depicts a working-class mother and her daughter wringing the water out of a sheet. The bronze memorial was realised following the initiative of active and enthusiastic locals. Following a reader poll in the local Kallio newspaper, the mother was named Lyyli and the daughter Liisa. The translation of the inscription reads “Unveiled on Mother’s Day, 12 May 1996, as a mark of gratitude to working-class mothers”. Locals have maintained the tradition of laying flowers at the memorial each Mother’s Day at noon.
Työläisäidinpuisto, Sturenkatu / Läntinen Brahenkatu, Alppiharju

Find out more about Helsinki’s public sculptures on the Helsinki Art Museum website: hamhelsinki.fi

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Helsinki has almost 500 public sculptures and historical monuments. In honour of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we chose eight of these works of art that either depict, are dedicated to, or were sculpted by women.