Arja Alhoranta

Pyhäranta (1937)

Arja Alhoranta says that she was only a child when she had to learn to work hard after her father died in the war. When she was young she worked as a bricklayer’s hand and became familiar with working with concrete. Her career was in insurance but she also had to look after the housework. She says she often regretted that all the cleaning and baking did not create anything permanent. She then got the idea of making art out of concrete.

At first Alhoranta moulded concrete into birds – capercaillies, black grouse, small birds, even penguins – but her dream was to make an elk. After some hesitation she took up the challenge and created one elk, then another and another. She has made eight life-sized concrete elks and six horses in total. Alhoranta considers The Ploughman, a large piece that depicts history of the countryside, as her very best work.

Expressions of creativity come in many forms and complement each other in Alhoranta’s living environment, both indoors and outdoors. Concrete animals, totems sculpted with chainsaw and arrangements of branches and stones are an integral part of the garden, while porcelain and oil painting, ceramics and leather work blend in with the imaginative furnishings indoors. Alhoranta also builds fantastic fireplaces, paints murals and is a keen photographer. She says that her greatest achievement is being able to turn something cheap or valueless into a fine, valuable object.

Text and photos: Minna Haveri. Translation: Kirsti Nurmela-Knox.