Many artists throughout history did not rise to prominence or receive recognition for their work until after their death. Veijo Rönkkönen was one of these individuals. No one even knew he was an artist until he passed away and left behind a forest filled with Secret Sculptures.
The Veijo Rönkkönen Gardens
The Veijo Rönkkönen Sculpture Garden, which is located in the woods surrounding the now-deceased artist’s home, receives about 25 thousand visitors every year.
There are nearly five hundred figures on the grounds, including statues of children holding each other up in the air and older adults in traditional dress. Some of the figures have real human teeth which seem to grin eerily at guests as they walk by, while others have speakers inside them that make unintelligible sounds .
One of the largest parts of the garden features over two hundred male statues doing various yoga poses, which some believe are self-portraits of Rönkkönen himself .
The secret sculptures are not considered very lifelike, but instead have blank ,sunken eyes, gaunt proportions, and creepy smiles, which give them an other-worldly or, in some cases, a sinister quality .
Veijo Rönkkönen: The Secret Sculptor
Veijo Rönkkönen was born in 1944 Parikalla, Finland. He started working at the local paper mill when he was just sixteen years old, where he continued to work for the rest of his life. He was known as a recluse and barely went anywhere other than to go to work and then return to his farm .
Around the same time that he began working at the mill, he began creating his sculptures. Local legend says that he used his first paycheck from the mill to purchase apple seeds and a bag of concrete in order to start his sculpture garden .
While he rarely travelled anywhere, he was said to be very well-read, and the variety of ethnicities in his statues represent his knowledge of the world .
Visiting the Garden
While Rönkkönen was alive, he refused to showcase his work. He never discouraged visitors, but he never took an active role in the tourism activities that began happening as interest in his collection grew.
Following Rönkkönen’s death in 2010, Finnish Businessman Reino Uusitalo purchased the site with plans to provide it with management to maintain it. It was reopened to the public on July 23, 2011, with an exhibit honoring the artist that remained in place until September 30, 2011 .