Irja Alinen, who lives in Pori, has a garden which is populated by about 200 concrete figures. In terms of numbers, it is one of the largest ITE art collections in Finland.
When Irja Alinen began her career as an artist in the late 1990s, she was a single mother of three boys. She soon realised that she was creating her works under some kind of guidance. It was as if her hands were being guided by an outside power. “If the guide isn’t there, it’s completely pointless to try to work, it just won’t happen!” she explains. Starting a new work also involves some requisite rituals. The water in the concrete mix must be blessed, and some ash must be mixed into the mass. Ash carries messages about the invisible properties of the physical world, and it has a connection with the spirits of burnt trees – which have now also moved to live in the afterworld.
The sculpture park in the garden dazzles viewers with the variety of its subjects, as if the objects of the artist’s interest bounced around without any logic. The sculpture park is not confusing, however, but its diversity is a testament to the boundless nature of Irja Alinen’s world. Many subjects of the works have come to Irja as visions, and mermaids, unicorns, the Buddha, dragons, Indians as well as well-known cartoon characters live in perfect harmony there, in the parallel world that the artist can see. There are no hierarchies in Irja’s world. All are equal, and there is no time, but all beings are present at the same time and in perpetuity. Even the world of human myths and fables is populated by diversity that is varied and contradictory – how could things be different in Irja’s garden?
Text: Veli Granö. Editor: Lauri Oino. Translation: Kirsti Nurmela-Knox. Photos: Veli Granö.