Marjut Kauppinen / Junk Princess

Lapinlahti (1973)

An ITE environmental artist is probably the best way to describe Marjut Kauppinen, also known as the Junk Princess. An essential part of her realm of creativity is Onnela, located in the village of Korpijärvi in Lapinlahti. Onnela’s courtyard and outbuildings house a plethora of her works made of recycled materials, acrylic paintings and mosaic art. Kauppinen and her husband lead a lifestyle that follows the cycle of the environment and nature, the changing of the seasons. Produce of the forest and the garden plays an important role, and a world has been created around them; it’s a veritable Junk Princess “cuisine”. Kauppinen is a leader of recreational activities workshops for elderly people in Lapinlahti. She has also completed a basic course in carpentry and has a degree in nature-based services. Kauppinen has a company, Romurinsessan kädentaito ja luontopalvelut, and she sells not only her works of art, handicrafts and wild herb products but also wellness services such as recreational camps and workshops.

The Junk Princess’s art is joyful and positively exhilarating. There really is a profusion of works, which are testament to her boundless imagination and passion for creation. Everywhere you look you see fascinating details as broken and abandoned objects, full of joy and creativity, have been integrated into the courtyard and the buildings; it’s an ITE art exhibition in which the works and the household’s people and animals live in perfect harmony.

The Junk Princess’s motto “if it’s broken, it can be mended” says it all: you can work with junk and all sorts of materials and turn them into art. Kauppinen finds materials for her works from various sources, sometimes from charity shops and she is also given discarded objects by people who follow her artistic work. Usually, it is the objects themselves that offer her inspiration. “When I see an object in a charity shop, I immediately have an idea of what to turn it into.”

Kauppinen learned her skills in her childhood home. Her mother enjoyed many kinds of handicrafts and her father’s hobby was woodwork. Kauppinen’s husband, Harri, sometimes helps her with works that require welding, for example. Harri is used to his wife’s ideas and nothing she does surprises him. The couple also make art together.

Text: Riitta Kärkkäinen, Jari Ruotsalainen Translation: Kirsti Nurmela-Knox. Photos: Mari Kekäläinen.

ITE Art surveys / Northern Savonia 2020–2022