Contemporary church painters create spirit of renovated 16th century church in Tyrvää.
St Olaf’s Church now complete, 12 years on from devastating arson attack
The greystone church of St. Olaf’s in Tyrvää in Southern Finland, dating originally from the early 16th century, burned to the ground in1997 at the hands of an arsonist, in one of the most high-profile cases of deliberate fire-setting in recent Finnish history.
An enormous volunteer project moved into action with the objective of rebuilding the church.
Funding for materials came from a variety of sources, including local author and illustrator Mauri Kunnas, who donated the proceeds of one of his popular children's books, and the aggregate cost of the work was around EUR 2 million.
The painstaking task of rebuilding the entire church, including the magnificent tarred shingle roof, was brought to a conclusion in August 2003.
When it came to the interior restoration of the medieval church, the congregation decided to restore all old fixtures and fittings, instead of bringing in modern furniture.
Another decision - perhaps more radical in tone - was made to commission new paintings for the renovated church from two contemporary artists, namely Kuutti Lavonen and Osmo Rauhala.
The two artists received a commission to put into practice the pictorial motifs of the 16th century by using their own 21st century imagery.
In terms of the scope and significance, this unique church art project can be compared to the work of Hugo Simberg and Magnus Enckell at the Tampere Cathedral.
The painting conditions were challenging. The artists started the work in the spring of 2006, continuing through four summers. The painters did all the work in situ, and as the church was not heated in wintertime, painting could only be done in summertime.
The paintings cover the entire biblical world from the Creation to the Last Judgement.
Osmo Rauhala was commissioned to depict the history of the creation, while Kuutti Lavonen’s lot included portraying the Passion of Christ.
The reception ceremony of the interior paintings of St. Olaf’s Church in Tyrvää will be held on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. The church is to be officially reconsecrated at a service on Sunday at 10.00, to be conducted by Archbishop Jukka Paarma and Archbishop Emeritus John Vikström. On both festival days the church will be open until 8.00 p.m. and afterwards every day from 11.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. until the end of September.
Previously in HS International Edition:
St. Olaf´s Church completed and reconsecrated after 1997 arson (4.8.2003)
archmuseum.org - St Olaf´s Church
St Olaf´s on Flickr
Vammala Parish website (in Finnish; Tyrvää is a part of Vammala, now part of the municipality of Satamala)