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RÖNSY / OFFSHOOT, creeper garden beside Art Museum

OUTs – Art in Urban Space, part of Ars Libera's summer exhibition Hule / Stormwater
Kuopio, Kauppakatu 35, 10 June - 20 October 2003

Winter 2003

Summer 2003

When the risk of frost was over, the artist started to grow a creeper garden of hops beside the Art Museum, around a closed entry. The artwork was a lullaby to the museum falling into the Sleeping Beauty's dreams (renovation) and a homage to Hugo Simberg's painting Garden of Death, its idea of cherishing the delicate and the frail.

The OFFSHOOT lived in close interaction with its surroundings, it grew on the terms of weather and people. The artist-gardener repaired emerging damages and nurtured the creeper garden at her best. The garden took shape moment by moment throughout the summer, bringing forth a flourishing arbour in the middle of the city.

As known, verdancy helps people breath: plants utilize the carbon dioxide of the air, strap dust and impurities from air, and discharge oxygen. It has been shown too that creepers decrease noise and verdancy increases piece of mind, not to speak of esthetic thrills.


The main plant of the garden was Japanese hop, rephrasing the Art Nouveau style of the building, and Finnish hop as its buddy. Subsidiary plants were Indian cress (nasturtium), pumpkins and Virginia creeper. There were different varieties of pumpkins for many tastes, for instance Turkish Turban, Mandarin, Lakota Indian Pumpkin and African Cucumber. Most of the garden's plants were self-grown from seeds, the first of which had been sown in March.

The pots were produced in collaboration with the Ceramics Department of the Kuopio Design Academy, made by Irina Kaarna, Anniina Mehtälä, Hanna Mikola, Paula Noponen, Tiina Pitkänen and Laura Åkerfelt. The soil was provided by the city gardens and good advice by the city gardener Erkki Oinonen. Matti Rissanen and Jussi Toivanen of the Kuopio Art Museum assisted in constructing the support structures, and the entire staff gave practical and mental support in taking care of the garden.

Photo Hannu Miettinen

Photo Hannu Miettinen

In the beginning it was agitating for a couple of nights to see if the garden was left alone. The fear was in vain, since no damage was done, just some weary stroller had broken a beer bottle on the steps. The garden thrived under lucky stars from June to October, during which time both long and short conversations emerged with passers-by on gardening and life. Here some comments on the garden:

Pushing blooms!

Plants are surely somehow sacred as they are not teared down.

How beautiful! (Matti the helper:) You mean me?

This is fancy, beautiful and all the superlatives on top of it!

Absolutely great thing, absolutely this must be done every year.

Jolly old time plants!

Oh boy, I've never noticed this place before, those curls. They really are funky these old houses, there should be such.

Is it yours, this house?

Those pots, each one is indeed different!

And the colours, so that they don't make too much difference but come up.

It's so good that there are things like this even among ordinary people like us.

Great idea, might do the same to the end of the house, thanks.

Must indeed come to tell the artist that I've admired all summer long.

Fantastic creeper jungle!

Pick up the fruits, lest someone does! (I didn't, and no one did)

Why, no one has picked up. Nor braken down. Is this your house?

So you're turning into a gardener! (said a gardener)

Nice that there's something like this for citizens.

It's been a hard work, thanks a lot!

The creeper garden in October

Despite the many thanks the experience was not only positive to the gardener. She could feel the risk of frost at her core both in early summer and in autumn, and her helplessness in front of it. The night of 3-4 September was spent in warding off frost, armed with candle lanterns and jugfuls of warm water. Someone leaving a pub commented: "Why you watering by night?"

One could feel the greenhouse effect in one's body in the heat of the summer and in the warmth of the autumn, and one's helplessness again. But moments of exaltation were more frequent, when one was experiencing fluent collaboration with nature, taking part in its circulation.