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Kirsi Kaulanen: Mare mare, 2023. You may not use this photo for commercial purposes. Photo: © HAM/Kirsi Halkola

Mare mare

Artist Kirsi Kaulanen

Loviseholminpuisto, Helsinki

Kirsi Kaulanen’s work Mare mare (‘Sea, sea’ in English) in Loviseholm park creates a sculptural space that passers-by can enter. The work consists of stainless steel elements, which have been laser-cut into spiral shapes that resemble plants and their roots, with acrylic glass-covered light elements at the top.

The inside of the sculpture is an imaginary submarine or subterranean space. The sculpture’s rootlike elements rise as high as three metres, with the above-ground parts of the steel plants growing on the elements. According to Kaulanen, the space can also be seen as “a symbol of a submarine, subterranean and subconscious space or state in which knowledge, skills, imagination, play and creativity can come together and generate new thoughts and ideas.”

The artist sees her work as a maritime garden; it is a state of mind and a place for the mind to expand. The sculpture is a bed for the silhouettes of endangered plants growing on the shores of the Baltic Sea – fen violets, golden docks and yellow bedstraws – and for forms that resemble the roots of brookweeds and sand pinks. “The plants remind us that life is vulnerable and precious. The bubbles illuminated from inside shine in the colours of the sea; they are a mysterious and unexplainable element of the sculpture, perhaps remotely related to sea stars,” Kaulanen says.

Kirsi Kaulanen (b. 1969) is a sculptor based in Porvoo. Her works are characterised by a dialogue between natural elements and nature, as well as people and other species. They feature the play of light and shadows combined with sharply lined steel forms and an idiom that occasionally resembles machinery. Kaulanen has created several public artworks for Helsinki; for example, Iso tyttö (2003) in Annantalo and the double sculpture Viileä mätäs and Vaaleanpunainen luonto in Haartman Hospital (2005). She also recently completed Mauno Koivisto’s memorial Välittäjä (The Mediator), the unveiling of which was celebrated in November 2023.

The work belongs to the Collection of the City of Helsinki, managed by HAM Helsinki Art Museum.

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