The River by the Mountain

The River by the Mountain

The Masala Lutheran Church, close to Helsinki, was the first church to be built in Finland in the 21st century. It was designed by architect Erkki Pitkäranta, who asked me if I wanted to join him to produce artwork for it, which would be incorporated in the architectural structures – in this case, the walls and the floor. Pitkäranta was responsible for the religious themes, and I designed the work of art called The River by the Mountain.

  1. The River. A four-armed river runs from Paradise, pictured on the floor in laser cut ceramic tiles made from my digital drawing. The arms end in a triangle, a square and two circles. The star of Bethlehem shines in the middle of the river. During the sermon, the arms of the river are partly covered by chairs. If you sit on one of the chairs, you might find a small fish under your feet, cut in a ceramic tile. The River, starting from the altar, also symbolises the spread of the Gospel to the four corners of the world.
  2. The Mountain. A “mountain” of triangular, circular and quadrangular shapes rises behind the altar, as part of the wall. It is cut into two by a long narrow window. Triangular, circular and quadrangular metallic frames were first welded onto metallic supports on the wall, then spray-filled with concrete and painted dark brown. The mountain is used as a symbol in many parts of the Bible. The most famous is perhaps the Sermon on the Mount.
  3. The symbols of the Evangelists: Matthew, as an angel, welcomes visitors by the door, cut in ceramic tiles. In the other three directions, you can find Mark as a lion, Luke as an ox and John as an eagle. They all use details from the primary shapes, the triangle, the circle and the square, and this connects them to the Mountain and also to the shapes of the four arms of the River.
  4. The vestments of the priests and the church textiles were hand made by textile artist Ann Jonasson after designs by Pitkäranta and me.

A total work of art in the Masala Church, Kirkkonummi, 2000.