Espoo Museum of Modern Art

Ilona Niemi: Personae Mythologicae, 2020 © Ella Tommila / EMMA
© Ella Tommila / EMMA

Always on display

Ilona Niemi: Personae mythologicae

Ilona Niemi's new work Personae mythologicae is on display in a fence surrounding a construction site in front of the Exhibition Centre WeeGee. The artwork is a collection of 28 soulful creatures based on Finnish mythology.

Tapiola garden city has been named after an ancient Finnish forest god, Tapio. In Tapiola, urban living and architecture coexist beautifully with nature.

In a similar manner, Personae Mythologicae combines nature with urban life. With a contemporary touch, the artwork brings to light slightly lesser known mythical characters, intertwines animal and human parts, and plays with gender. Mirroring the animistic religion of ancient Finland, the animal creatures have a soul, and they seem equal with people.

An important point of reference for Personae Mythologicae is Christfried Ganander’s Mytholgia Fennica (1789), a lexicon of Finnish mythology, which Elias Lönnrot had access to when compiling Kalevala. Martti Haavio’s Suomalainen mytologia (Finnish mythology) (1967) also provided ideas for the characters.


Ganander, C., Mythologia Fennica (1789)
Haavio, M., Suomalainen mytologia (1967)
Itkonen, E., Suomen sanojen alkuperä (1995)
Koski, M., Suomalaisia haltijoita ja taruolentoja (2007).
Tulikettutarinoita, Ilmatieteenlaitos

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