Anna-Liisa Siivonen

Kokemäki (1945)

There seem to be no boundaries in Anna-Liisa Siivonen’s world. She is friends with birds and animals and sees wonderful dreams and strange creatures where others only see grey everyday routines.

There is a collection of strange plaster paintings on Anna-Liisa Siivonen’s kitchen wall. They are dream visions, freshly painted from memory, in which a lovely maiden, who very much looks like young Anna-Liisa, faces adventurous situations. There’s a young Anna-Liisa, jumping among some monstrous predatory fish; there she’s carrying a flying fish in her suitcase, and look, now she abandons her children who are screaming on the pier and sails away into the horizon.

The surreal scenes sometimes depict upsetting situations from the previous day. The flood of migrants to Europe in 2015 came all the way to the main street of Kokemäki. Groups of dark men ended up in Anna-Liisa’s dreamscapes, even standing at the foot of her bed in one picture.

Other emotional moments and turning points also visit her dreams. Childcare turns into joyful breastfeeding of very small men, and meeting the man next door at the rubbish bins turn into an erotic experience.

Siivonen’s fascinating dream paintings are exactly the same as dreams: a wonderful mix of truth, desire and shadows of her darkest fears.

Siivonen’s art draws even more heavily from the subconscious when she takes out her “bronze sculptures”. Their story began in the garden. She found a strange-looking root system, cleaned and dried it, and went on to add clay to the root’s forms. Little by little, the root’s bends became a fantasy world, where human hands, faces, parts of animals and other extraordinary mythical creatures grew out of the great giant of a tree. When that remarkable ensemble was finally covered in thick bronze paint, it began to look like a depiction of the metamorphoses of ancient stories immortalised in metal.

Anna-Liisa Siivonen’s unconfined mind takes viewers to the birthplace of eternal myths, deep into the mazes of everyone’s dreams, imagination and subconscious, where maidens turn into trees and gods into birds, and people understand the language of animals.

Text: Veli Granö. Editor: Lauri Oino. Translation: Kirsti Nurmela-Knox. Photos: Veli Granö.

A longer artist bio has been published in the book ITE Satakunnassa.