Martti Hömppi is an evacuee from Karelia, an ex-wrestler, a sailor who has sailed the seven seas, an amateur horn player and a self-taught artist. Hömppi started making sculptures after he retired, but he says that he was always interested in art and art making. He received a great deal of motivation from the artist Ossi Somma after he had the courage to ask for Somma’s advice on art making. Inspired by Somma he swapped embossed copper works and landscape paintings for sculptures of human figures. Working recycled plank wood and scrap materials satisfied the need to sculpt wood that Hömppi believes is in his genes: his father could do absolutely anything with his hands and his mother’s family came from Karelia where bark work was cherished. Hömppi cannot understand the ineptitude of the younger generations since to him various materials are full of possibilities.
His carnivalistic plank wood sculptures are full of irony and social criticism aimed at two-faced politicians, doping sportsmen, not forgetting religious extremists. Hömppi dares to provoke, not out of spite but out of mischief because he thinks that mockery is the salt of culture. Hömppi values courage both in art and in life. Of course he has had many fears in the past. As a child he was traumatised by the war and travelling as an evacuee; later, when he started wrestling, he was more nervous of the audiences than of his opponents. His many adventures on land and sea, however, have helped him to get rid of his shyness and have given him the courage to laugh at himself as well as at others.
Hömppi does not want to be called an artist but has come to see himself as an ITE artist as the ITE project has proceeded. He is particularly fond of the title “Picasso of the Woodshed” given to him in ITE circles.
Text and photos: Minna Haveri. Translation: Kirsti Nurmela-Knox.