Rovaniemi Orthodox Church (detail on the left) and the house for teachers are remarkable buildings of the reconstruction time architecture. The Church is protected, the other building not. Photos: Mervi Autti



  • Mervi Löfgren (Autti)
    Three Artists light fires in the ruins of the spiritual life of Lapland
  • Päivi Granö
    Reconstructed home districts in pupils’ drawings and their writings about their home district in Torne Valley 1951–1953
  • Tuija Hautala-Hirvioja
    The Role and Significance of Art Associations in the Cultural Reconstruction of Lapland
  • Veera Kinnunen
    The Village That Dropped Out of the Sky. Living at the construction site of a hydroelectric power plant in post-war Lapland
  • Anniina Koivurova
    What do Lappish children's drawings and paintings tell about the post-war period?
  • Kari Kotkavaara
    Whose Tradition(s)? Lennart Segerstråle, Cold War Finland, and Christ Transfigured
  • Veli-Pekka Lehtola
    Repatriating the Memories. Encounters of archival photographs and Sámi experiences concerning the period 1945-1968
  • Nina Sääskilahti 
    Memory/future and  the  post-war literary production of landscape in Reino Rinne’s travelogue “Lapin rauha” 
  • Marja Tuominen
    Less Holy? Reconstructing Orthodox Christianity in Lapland  


    (funding from other sources) 

  • Anu Soikkeli
    Planning and guidance of planning in the Lapland Building District
  • Heli Tuovinen
    Elsa Montell: Turning myths and traditions into textile design
  • Sisko Ylimartimo 
    The altarpieces of Lutheran reconstruction churches in Lapland


Posters of the research group

Mervi Löfgren (Autti)

D.A. Mervi Löfgren works as a researcher and co-ordinator in the FEENIKS Project. She has studied historical photographs as sources of interpretation, and she has done historical documentary as a part of her doctoral thesis.

Three Artists light fires in the ruins of the spiritual life of Lapland

This study aims to shed light on the views on society and culture of writer and painter A. E. Järvinen, writer Annikki Kariniemi and photographer Matti Saanio after the Lapland War. Through their art they contributed to the provincial and national cultural life, but they also took a public position in society and the prevailing circumstances: Järvinen was influential in the Lapland Art Association Seitapiiri, Kariniemi as a journalist and Saanio as a photographer and writer in his reportage in prestigious Finnish magazines and newspapers.

From this point of view, their actions are part of an as yet unexamined cultural history of Lapland and the Northern, and this study will dismantle the idea of an exotic Lapland and highlight the agency of the people in the province. Lapland was not only re-built; it was transformed into a modern society.

How can Järvinen, Kariniemi and Saanio thus be situated in the tension between nostalgia and modernisation? How did they construct Lapland? How were they involved in the ethos of reconstruction?

In addition to and alongside the research, I will broaden the historical account by writing a film script for a 30minute historical documentary that will combine the expression of cinematic form and the sharing of information.
Mervi Löfgren (Autti)
D.A., Co-ordinator and Researcher in the Project
University of Lapland, Faculty of Social Sciences, Cultural history


Päivi Granö

D.A. Päivi Granö is professor of Art education at the University of Lapland. She has studied visual culture of children and young people, questions of place and home, and the birth of artistic process.

Reconstructed home districts in pupils’ drawings and their writings about their home district in Torne Valley 1951–1953

The home district association of Norrbotten and the local social democratic newspaper arranged a competition for the county schools in 1951-53 on the theme of home district. The aim was to build up collect material about local history, and build up people‟s sense of belonging to the nation-state amid the changes brought by modernisation. The material from the competition is stored in the Norrbotten Museum in Luleå. It consists of drawings of home regions and related texts. The people in the region in question spoke Finnish and were part of the Torne River Valley culture. The policy of assimilation that affected the ethnicity and national identity of the valley, was aimed at them in particular. Through relatives children had close connections over the border; they saw the destruction of the opposite side of the river during the Lapland War and were in contact with the evacuated Finns. The drawings both rebuild and comment on the imposed Swedish cultural agenda. The subject-matter varies from everyday homes, domestic activities and artefacts to yards and gardens, schools, villages, trades and industries and local memory-based knowledge. The rich visual material serves as comparative data for understanding the images created by children on the Finnish side of the Torne River (see Koivurova‟s research). There is neither earlier research nor publications based on the material. The theoretical starting point is the study of lived and experienced place. The interpretation is based on visual analysis as described by Bal and Rose as well as on a cultural approach to the children‟s drawings.
Päivi Granö
D.A., Professor of Art education
University of Lapland, Faculty of Art and Design, Art education
Tel. +358 400 791 923

Tuija Hautala-Hirvioja

Ph.D. Tuija Hautala-Hirvioja is professor of Art history at the University of Lapland. Her field of teaching and research is the Northern art and culture, and Finnish modern art in the context of Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foudation ArtCollection. Moreover, she has studied Lappish folk art.

The Role and Significance of Art Associations in the Cultural Reconstruction of

A group of fine artists, writers and performing artists founded “The Lapland Art Association Seitapiiri” and “The Kemi Art Association” in 1947. Immediately, the associations started to plan and organise The Culture Week of Lapland together, which was an exemplary demonstration of active involvement, cooperation and strength. The associations were keenly involved in such activities until the beginning of the 1960s, when the organisation of cultural work became the work of public officials.

The research proceeds from the presumption of the solidifying effect of art-making and reception. A focal question in this regard is how we can disentangle traumas, accumulate social capital and support the unity of a community in difficult circumstances. The study examines the role and meaning of the associations in relation to its members and to “consumers of art” as well as the relationship of individual artists.
works to the drastically changed environment. The data consist of the works of the key artists of the associations, the associations. archives, newspaper articles and critiques.

The analysis of the visual works uses the third level of Erwin Panofsky's (1955) iconological method – iconographical synthesis. The content of artwork is seen as reflecting the prevailing ideological or historical, philosophical and/or basic religious
attitude of an era.

Tuija Hautala-Hirvioja
Ph.D., Professor of Art History
University of Lapland, Faculty of Art and Design
Tel. +358 400-791 923

Kari Kotkavaara 

Whose Tradition(s)? Lennart Segerstråle, Cold War Finland, and Christ Transfigured

In the literature, a number of interrelated explanations are given to Lennart Segerstråle's The Fount of Life, an allegorical fresco covering the entire apse of the Lutheran reconstruction church in Rovaniemi. It is seen as a tribute to the post-war reconstruction of Lapland, while the dualist vision conveyed through form as well as content is associated with Lars Levi Laestadius, an austere 19th-century priest and the native authority of Northern Lutheran piety. The pictorial idiom of the work is seen to originate
from the Finnish Golden Age tradition and Nordic art, most notably Segerstråle's Danish teacher Joakim Skovgaard, who found inspiration in the majestic harmony of Byzantium and the Early Renaissance. At the same time, the message of The Fount of Life is understood as an expression of Segerstråle's personal faith: a vision of strenuous day-to-day struggle towards purification and rebirth in Christ.

Less thought has been paid to aspects such as certain affinities between Segerstråle's work and the playful and light-hearted wall-paintings which his colleague Tove Jansson created during and after the war years, or to the attention which other Swedish-speaking associates such as Tito Colliander, Gösta Diehl and Bertel Hintze paid to things Russian. Colliander, an author and painter, integrated with Finland's Russian-speaking Orthodox minority, through which the Byzantine tradition of ”Purification of the Heart” – an inner quest for Christ Transfigured – was communicated to him.

During the 1941–1944 occupation of Soviet Karelia by the Finns, Diehl and Hintze, were recruited to rescue icons discovered all around the conquered lands. These events drew the attention of non-Orthodox audiences as well, attracting especially Modernist painters, writers and scholars. And yet, in the wake of Finland's final defeat, public talk about icon art came to an end. It is another question whether, by 1950, ottherwise sociable Finnish Swedes should have had reason to avoid discussing things off the record, among trusted colleagues, and in their native Swedish.

So far, little attention has been paid to the resemblance between Russian Orthodox representations of the Transfiguration (e.g. the work attributed to Andréy Rublyóv)
and certain compositional elements of The Fount of Life, most notably the likeness of Christ standing within a sphere of radiant, divine light. These affinities are intriguing, although the evidence for Segerstråle's interest in icons is scarce.

My aim is to apply iconographical and historiographical analysis as well as and critical contextualisation while reading texts, archival and published, and photographs and
art books, so as to explore various aspirations of Swedish-, Finnish-and Russian-speaking audiences in the Cold War years. Whose traditions should one see in The Fount of Life?


Kari Kotkavaara
Ph.D., akademilektor i konstvetenskap, Åbo Akademi 

Veera Kinnunen
M.Sc. Veera Kinnunen is researcher of Sociology at the University of Lapland. Her fields of study are material culture and sociology and cultural history of home.

The Village That Dropped Out of the Sky. Living at the construction site of a hydroelectric power plant in post-war Lapland
Kinnunen will write an article on the societal and environmental changes that took place as a consequence of the harnessing of the River Kemijoki. She focuses on the period when the Pirttikoski power plant was under construction (1955–1960), concentrating on the home. The main data of the article consist of home album photos and discussion forum texts written by members of Pirttikosken entiset nuoret (Former Youngsters of Pirttikoski).

Veera Kinnunen
M.Sc., researcher
University of Lapland, Faculty of Social Sciences, Sociology
Tel. +358 40 4844 175
Anniina Koivurova

D.A. Anniina Koivurova defended her doctoral thesis in 2010 of the pictures produced by young people, what meanings do these pictures convey and what type of social relations they manifest.

What do Lappish children's drawings and paintings tell about the post-war period?

The study uses materials that are the product of the work of a Canadian teacher, artist and art historian, Dr. Naomi Jackson Groves. Jackson Groves was a Quaker who volunteered to work in 1945–47 in Lapland with school children who had returned from evacuation. The material of the study was transferred from Canada to Rovaniemi in 2005. It includes 141 children‟s drawings and paintings and the diaries of Jackson Groves (1989). The material has not yet been systematically analysed. In order to compare and contrast the materials, schoolbooks and other visual imagery of the time are also used. Supporting material will be gathered by interviewing some of the Lappish students (currently 70 to 80 years of age) of Jackson Groves. This study aims to first examine what kind of Lappish imagery Jackson Groves – “the helper from outside” – internalised through children‟s drawings and paintings. Secondly, the research examines the important question of how Lappish images and Quaker teachings manifested themselves in the children's drawings and paintings. Children's pictures can be seen as influenced by the post-war Western aid efforts, and are therefore not culturally or politically neutral. The texts and pictures are interpreted using Michael Bamberg‟s (2004) positioning approach to narratives, known as positioning analysis. Both textual and visual research uses the concept of focalisation (Bal, 2009): the study poses the question through whose eyes and experience things become represented. The drawings and paintings are owned and have been digitalised by the Provincial Museum of Lapland (Arctic Center).

Anniina Koivurova
D.A., university lecturer of visual culture
University of Lapland, Faculty of Art and Design & Arctic Centre
Tel. +358 040 484 4385

Veli-Pekka Lehtola

Ph.D. Veli-Pekka Lehtola is Professor of Saami Culture in Giellagas Institute, at the University of Oulu. He has written several books of the history of the Sámi and literature.

Repatriating the Memories. Encounters of archival photographs and Sámi experiences concerning the period 1945-1968

The material of the study is a collection of photographs in several archives concerning the post war period in Sámi area in Finland, interpreted especially by Saami themselves interviewed for this purpose. The Sámi people have been photographed a lot already from the end of 19th century and representations have usually been characterized by romantic, exotic or even racial images. This was also the case in the post war period, but the photographic images became more multidimensional with the photo material produced by ordinary tourists, journalists and also the Sámi themselves. When reaching for the idea of repatriation of returning the “voices of the ancestors” of the Sámi, including experiences, “lived environments” and the senses of places, the photo material becomes the most valuable. Not only will it present testimonies about encountering between two cultures, but interpreted through 5 the lenses of the “objects” themselves, the photographs also tell multiple and visualized stories about “our histories”, the recent past of the small Sámi communities. 
Veli-Pekka Lehtola
Ph.D., Professor of Saami Culture
University of Oulu, Giellagas Institute
Tel. +358 8 553 3489


Nina Sääskilahti

Memory/future and  the  post-war literary productionof landscape in Reino Rinne’s travelogue “Lapin rauha”

This study focuses on the production and reflection of memory/future and the paradoxes of making and experiencing a literary landscape in Reino Rinne’s novel "Lapin rauha" (1946/1991). 


Nina Sääskilahti
Marja Tuominen

Marja Tuominen is Professor of Cultural History at the University of Lapland. Her research interests range from post-war counter culture movements and generation dynamics and cultural history of the Byzantine sacred iconography to the cultural history of Northern societies. Her methodological approach is to be found in the field of psycho history, history of mentalities, micro history and visual hermeneutics.

Less Holy? Reconstructing Orthodox Christianity in Lapland

Mental images on Lapland often evoke religion that comprises only two dimensions: Sámi shamanism and the Laestadian revival movement. However, by the 1500s at the latest, Orthodox Christianity became in various ways part of the spiritual, political and material culture in northernmost Finland and surrounding regions, as seem among the Skolt Sámi of Petsamo, in the Russian garrison churches on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, in contacts with Viena Karelia etc. After WWII, a new division of the Orthodox parishes in Finland was introduced, the parish of Lapland among the new parishes created. In the province of Lapland there are currently seven Orthodox sanctuaries; five of them are what are known as “reconstruction churches”. These sanctuaries, their sacred images and objects form the primary focus of the study: What do they tell us – and how – about the preconditions and possibilities of the mental reconstruction of the religious, cultural, and ethnic minorities? The research frame and methodology is defined by the Braudelian concept of multilayered time (Braudel 1969) and the presence of history. The point of view is directed through the space and image to its cultural context (Harvey 2009; Mäkikalli 2010; Raivo 1996). Both are given new interpretations and meanings even today.

The shrines on which the study focuses were built for the immigrants from Petsamo and Karelia in materially and spiritually challenging circumstances. (Tuominen 2005b; see also Roivas 2000; 2004.) The term “reconstruction church” has long been deemed to be a pejorative one. The attitude is reflected in how these modest shrines of the reconstruction period have sometimes been treated quite harshly indeed, being given a Byzantine or Karelian/Russian appearance while appealing to the “authenticity” of the Orthodox tradition. One may ask to what degree the boom of “revisualising” the reconstruction churches is a symptom of nostalgia and/or shame about the region’s own history (see also Kotkavaara 1999). The researcher has previously done field work and collected source material (Tuominen 2005b), which will be used selectively. Furthermore, the field work and archival research will continue. Comparative field work will be done in North-East Russia, Petsamo and Solovetsk, where the reconstruction of monasteries, churches and sacred art and objects relates in many contradictory ways to the reconstruction of mind – and history.

Marja Tuominen
Ph.D., Professor of Cultural History
University of Lapland, Faculty of Social Sciences, Cultural history
Yliopistonkatu 8, 96300 ROVANIEMI, FINLAND
(postal address: University of Lapland, Box 122, 96101 ROVANIEMI, FINLAND)
Tel. +358 40 570 6889

Finnish network researchers

Anu Soikkeli

Anu Soikkeli, docent and architect, works as a lecturer in the Department of Architecture at the University of Oulu. Her research has focused on the cultural environment, vicarages and traditional Finnish construction. Of particular interest are the standardized houses built during post-war reconstruction and how guidance was organized during that period.
Planning and guidance of planning in the Lapland Building District

The assessments of the architecture of the reconstruction period that one sees in treatments of Finnish history essentially overlook Lapland and give little consideration to the role played by standardized houses in the reconstruction of the province. My research on this topic examines the work of the reconstruction period as seen in the contribution made by a single designer, the architect Erkki Koiso-Kanttila (1914-2006), whose professional life consisted of planning, teaching and the guidance of planning. During the Continuation War, Koiso-Kanttila took part in the planning and guidance of reconstruction in Karelia as a construction officer in the army. After the war, in 1945, he was invited to take up the post of director of the Planning Department in the Lapland Building District, part of a government agency regulating and supervising construction. Erkki Koiso-Kanttila worked in this capacity until 1948. He represents one a number of designers whose contribution was to influence the development of construction and architecture behind the scenes.

My research examines the standardized houses designed by Erkki Koiso-Kanttila to elucidate his role in the reconstruction of Lapland and, in particular, the principles of design to be seen in the houses. To this end, I draw on material from an interview I conducted with Koiso-Kanttila in 2002, as well as his extensive archives, which include collections of designs and correspondence. My particular focus is the value ascribed to standardized houses as part of the building undertaken during the reconstruction period and how the houses may be viewed in relation to modernism. In investigating this topic, I examine earlier research and consider the changes that have taken place in the valorisation of building. My research contributes to the debate on post-war reconstruction by highlighting the perspective and experiences of a particular designer. I also study the impact that the strong criticism of standardized houses has had on the designer, this being seen in how he assessed his work in the 1940s in relation to his professional career as a whole. Through this line of inquiry, I am also trying to ascertain why research on the standardized houses used in reconstruction did not begin until comparatively late – the 1990s ¬– and why research on reconstruction in Lapland is still only getting started.

The present research on the reconstruction period is part of a broader research effort on work biographies, the goal of which is to illuminate how architectural phenomena and themes were reflected in the life’s work of a single architect, a career spanning some forty years from the functionalism of the 1930s to the rationalism of the 1970s. The research explores the occurrence and foregrounding of various construction-related themes in national and international discourses of architecture in tandem with the occurrence of these themes in Erkki Koiso-Kanttila’s writings, plans, designs and other architectural work. An additional theme that the research brings to the fore is the paradigm shift in planning from the ideals of functionalism to the problem-solving focus of reconstruction and, further, the rationalism of the welfare society.


Anu Soikkeli
Dos., M.Sc. Arch, university lecturer
University of Oulu, Department of Architecture

Heli Tuovinen

M.A. (education) Heli Tuovinen is working as a researcher and project manager for the Woollen Innovations project. Her field of research has been the visual literacy. As textile designer her field of specialization is woollen material as textile and textile art.

Elsa Montell: Turning myths and traditions into textile design

The textile designer Elsa Montell (1926–) was a prominent figure in post-war northern design. Montell modernised the form of the traditional hand-woven woollen blanket, creating the new post-war design-art wall-hanging, inspired by Northern myths. Materially and technically her textiles represent the cultural heritage which she skilfully connected with the new design. In the 1950s and 1960s, Montell‟s reputation as a northern designer had also a special importance for the immense reconstruction period in northern Finland. The concept of Finnish Design was of special importance for the national identity formed in the post-war era. My research interest in Elsa Montell‟s work is directed not only to her visual art, but also to the social impact she had on the local community as an employer. 
Heli Tuovinen
M.A., researcher, project manager
University of Lapland, Faculty of Art and Design, Interior and Textile Design
Tel. +358 40 4844071

Sisko Ylimartimo

D.A., Ph.D. Sisko Yimartimo is Docent at the University of Oulu. 

The altarpieces of Lutheran reconstruction churches in Lapland

In Lapland, World War Two, which lasted from 1939 to 1945, brought the destruction of the churches in Enontekiö, Inari, Turtola, Kemijärvi, Rovaniemi and Salla and the prayer room in Pello. Most of these structures were burnt as German troops retreated from the province in the autumn of 1944, but the churches in Inari and Salla were destroyed during the Winter War (1939-1940). The former was destroyed in an air raid in early 1940, the latter burnt by Finnish troops in December 1939. The retreating troops also devastated the churches in northern Norway, with 20 being destroyed in the province of Finnmark. (Some sources suggest the number was 27)

The present research on altarpieces will confine itself to works in which the artist has augmented the traditional Christian theme with an element referring to the location of the work, such as a northern landscape, cultural milieu (e.g. Saami culture) or religiosity. Accordingly, I will be looking at the altarpieces which have been created in keeping with the typical Christian tradition. Central to the analysis will be instances where the figure of Christ and others, as well as the milieu, are depicted in a more or less oriental style. This focus excludes the paintings by Aale Hakava found in the Karihaara Parish Hall and in the churches in Pello, Kemijärvi and Turtola; to be sure, it is a matter of interpretation whether the background in the painting Christ on the Cross (1950) in Kemijärvi has features of a fell landscape. Also in keeping with its focus, the research will not examine works which, although painted in the 1950s, are located in churches that survived the war (Pelkosenniemi, Ranua, Posio, Muonio, and Kemi).

In an exception to the above, I will include in the study a painting done before the reconstruction period, an altarpiece painted in 1938 by Väinö Saikko, which is located in the Saami church in Inari.

The focus I have chosen does not involve restrictions regarding the material in the work or the technique used in painting it. In his otherwise very thorough study Noitarummusta kirkkauden kruunuun (From the shaman drum to the crown of clarity), art historian Pekka Rönkkö excluded two works as “beyond the scope of this study because of how they were created” (p. 142), these being the altar relief sculpted by Aimo Tukiainen for the church in Salla and the tapestry woven by Elsa Montell-Saanio for the chapel in Autti. Montell-Saanio considered Rönkkö’s restriction problematic, since she regards her materials in the same way as a painter does oil colours, and uses yarn to “paint” colour effects and hues (see Tenkama & Ylimartimo) 1998,46).

Working within the scope defined above, my article will examine the following works:

- Väinö Saikko: Kristuksen ilmestyminen vaeltavalle saamelaisperheelle, Inarin saamelaiskirkko (1938)
[Christ appearing to a Saami familyin the wilderness, Inari Saami church (1938)]
- Aimo Tukiainen: Tulkaa minun tyköni, reliefi, Sallan kirkko (1950-luvun alku)
- [”Come unto me”, relief, Salla church (early 1950s)]
- Lennart Segerstråle: Elämän lähde, fresko, Rovaniemen kirkko (1951)
[”Fountain of life”, fresco, Rovaniemi church (1951)]
- Uuno Eskola: Taivaaseen astuva Jeesus siunaa Lapin kansaa, Hetan kirkko (1951) [Jesus, ascending into heaven, blesses the people of Lapland, Hetta church (1951)]
- Lauri Välke: Autuaita ovat hiljaiset, Sieppijärven kirkko (1956, on rajatapaus)
- [”Blessed are the meek”, Sieppijärvi church (1956, borderline case)]
- Urpo Wainio: Jeesus vierailee kolarilaisessa kodissa, Kolarin kirkko (1965)
- [Jesus visits a family in Kolari, Kolari church (1965)]
- Elsa Montell-Saanio: Alttarikuvakudos, Auttin kappeli (1967)
- [Altar tapestry, Autti chapel (1967)]
As comparative material I might use the altarpieces of the reconstruction churches in Finnmark and the features in them that reflect their localness.
Selected literature:
Elo, Tiina: Tuhkasta nousseet kirkot. Kirkkojen jälleenrakennus Lapissa. Raito 1 /2004, s. 43–50.
Rönkkö, Pekka: Noitarummusta kirkkauden kruunuun. Lapin kirkkomaalauksia keskiajalta nykypäiviin. Pohjoinen, Oulu 1985.

Sisko Ylimartimo


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