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Press release: Ateneum’s new exhibition “On the Shores of the Lake” tells the stories of the Tuusula artist community


In the late 1800s and early 1900s, a small yet influential artist community developed around picturesque Lake Tuusula. Several key figures in Finnish cultural life lived and worked in five villas along the eastern shores of the lake: the author Juhani Aho and his artist wife Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, the composer Jean Sibelius, the artists Eero Järnefelt and Pekka Halonen, and the poet J. H. Erkko. The new exhibition “On the Shores of the Lake” tells the stories of the Tuusula artist community, the lives of the artists and their fascinating homes through their art and artefacts. The curators of the exhibition are Professor Riitta Konttinen and Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff, Acting Chief Curator of Exhibitions at Ateneum. The exhibition architecture is by Marjaana Kinnermä. 

The exhibition presents the life of the community through the works of the artists who lived on the shores of Lakes Tuusula: how it was to live and work beside the lake and how the environment inspired the artists. The artworks, artefacts and tools of the artists have been loaned by several museums and private collections. The paintings and drawings made by Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, wife of the author Juhani Aho, portray the family’s children and their garden. Similarly, the numerous landscapes and garden scenes painted by Pekka Halonen and Eero Järnefelt portray the daily lives of their families surrounded by art.

The wives of the artists were the backbone of the community, and they appear in many portraits together with their families. The exhibition also highlights the artistic output of the artists’ wives and the new kind of home ideology that was inspired by the British Arts and Crafts movement. The construction of the unique atelier homes in turn reflects the contemporary ideal of an all-encompassing work of art in which each detail expresses the skills of the craftsman.

The exhibition explores the exceptional lifestyle and art of the artists and friends during a culturally and politically interesting period. The curators have sought artefacts from museums and private collections that shed new light on such aspects as everyday life and special occasions at the villas, the lives of their children and the important role of their talented spouses. Indeed, families and everyday life formed the social space in which the artistic work could be created.

The origins of the Tuusula artist community date back to the spring of 1897, when Juhani Aho’s wife, the artist Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, found a house for their family in the village of Järvenpää. The family moved into the villa they named Ahola. They were followed by Pekka and Maija Halonen, who also sought the peace and quiet of the countryside. Their own villa, Halosenniemi, was constructed in 1901-1902. Around the same time, J. H. Erkko built Erkkola and Eero and Saimi Järnefelt built Suviranta. The last to arrive in the community were Jean and Aino Sibelius, whose villa Ainola was completed in 1904.

The artists and families already knew each other well, and they shared much the same ideological backgrounds and interests in literature, music, theatre and the arts, but also in children’s upbringing, teaching, home decoration and gardening. Similar artist communities sprung up around Europe and Scandinavia around the same time.

Siltala Publishing is publishing a new book on the subject based on the latest research by Professor Riitta Konttinen. Onnellista asua maalla - Tuusulanjärven taiteilijayhteisö tells the fascinating story of the Tuusula artist community. Professor Konttinen has also compiled the audio guide to the exhibition.

On the Shores of the Lake - Tuusula Artist Community

Further information about the exhibition: www.ateneum.fi/en/shores-lake
Audio guides:www.ateneum.fi/en/audioguide_en

Ateneum Art Museum Kaivokatu 2, 00100 Helsinki, www.ateneum.fi
Open: Tue, Fri 10-18 | Wed, Thu 10-20 | Sat, Sun 11-17 | Closed on Mondays
Tickets: €12/10, free admission for visitors under the age of 18
Tickets in advance: Lippupalvelu outlets and online shop, www.lippupalvelu.fi

Further information: Marja Istala Kumpunen, Communications Manager, tel. +358 (0)50 555 3551, mik@ateneum.fi


Ateneum’s main partners are Helsingin Sanomat, HOK-Elanto and KPMG.