Pentti Mäkäräinen

Paltamo (1929)

”When you walk in the forest, there’s always something small you notice and pick up.”

Pentti Mäkäräinen has been collecting abnormalities in nature, and produced double walking sticks, the bizarrest being a spiral one, from jointly-grown trees. You would have to walk for a while, before stumbling into another one alike.

The actual surprise awaits inside three woodsheds in the courtyard, however. The pieces in progress, found through excurcions in the woods, have found their positions in the eyes of the artist. As a result, a folk of wooden men and women, stoutly graceful, tell a story of the different aspects of life. At least a shed-full can be found at relatives, whom Mäkäräinen has given his work to.

The wooden men pose in static positions, with arms slightly off the torso and legs apart. When they head off to the sports field, the gestures become livelier.

The plastic figures, made simply with a mora knife, compete on an olympic level – shot putters, pole vaulters and skiers stand out from the group. Ice hockey, acrobatics and rock’n’roll dancing are performed more or less seriously. The Finnish baseball field with its players was supposed to be dissembled and packed away, when the storage ran out of space.

Despite his motto ”humour aboad”, darker tones can be found in the work of Mäkäräinen: in several pieces men wounded on the battlefront are being carried to a first aid site.

Usually, a clean and natural colour has been left on the polished surface of the sculptures, though a few painted ones are among the group. ”I confess it’s ruined, if you put colour on it.”

Sculptures started to come about from crooked branches in the 1960’s. Everything started, when the man next door brought logs, with a burl amongst them. Mäkäräinen did not have the patience to burn it, but decided to make a chair out of it. When others discovered the fine utensils and necessities being made, they started to bring more burls in for him.

”To pass the time you know. This is a hobby, not art”, the artist reckons.

Text: Elina Vuorimies. Translation: Ina Aaltojärvi. Photos: Teijo Määttänen.