Admission with Museum Card

Ritva Kovalainen & Sanni Seppo: Forests of the North Wind

Turku Art Museum, Turku

  • 26.1.2024–19.5.2024

An exhibition by award-winning photographers Ritva Kovalainen and Sanni Seppo, Forests of the North Wind portrays the northern coniferous forests that sustain a diverse array of life and are home to tens of thousands of species.


The photographs in the exhibition were taken in protected areas of Finnish natural forests, which now constitute only a few percent of our countrys forest areas. The majority of our forests have been transformed by intensive forestry into something fundamentally different from what they would be naturally. There are numerous species that cannot survive in the new conditions. We are so used to landscapes shaped by humans that we risk forgetting what a natural forest looks like.

Having worked on the forest theme for 30 years, the two artists take the exhibition visitor through xeric heath forests to wet spruce mires, examining the diversity of life and genetic abundance, carbon storage, the water cycle and the long lifecycles of trees where life, death and decomposition take up to a thousand years. The in-depth knowledge as well as the investigative and researched approach of the artists provide a fact-based perspective alongside their poetic photography. The forest ecosystem emerges as a complex whole interwoven through intricate interaction networks. Habitat changes have far-reaching consequences. Often cut down in cycles as short as every 60 years, commercial forests provide a totally different habitat than a thousand-year-old primeval forest shaped by natures own developments.

Seppo and Kovalainen also draw attention to how people talk about forests and the effects this has. They underline that, for at least half a century, Finnish culture has considered forests first and foremost as sites for farming raw material for industry. The exhibition also addresses the highly current issue of which forests fall within the scope of protection. Finland is committed to strictly protecting all primary and old-growth forests, and the national definitions of the protection criteria are currently being formulated in Finland.

Forests of the North Wind is the final part of a forest trilogy by photographers Ritva Kovalainen and Sanni Seppo. The first two parts are Tree People (1997), an exploration of Finnish forest mythology, and Silvicultural Operations (2009), which highlights the downsides of forestry. Background to the exhibition is provided by a book (in Finnish) combining photographic art and non-fiction, Pohjoistuulen mets (2023), which is based on Kovalainen and Seppos decades of photographing natural forests, scientific publications, reports, depictions of forests in fiction, and debate on forests on various forums.

Ritva Kovalainen (b. 1959) is a photographic artist whose numerous books, short films and exhibitions are themed particularly on the human relationship with nature. ritvakovalainen.com

Sanni Seppo (b. 1960) is a photographic artist whose work speaks about peoples community action to defend their rights, the relationship between humans and nature, and fragile dreams of living a unique life. sanniseppo.com

The exhibition at Turku Art Museum is supported by the Finnish Heritage Agency.

The work of the artists is supported by Kone Foundation, the Arts Promotion Centre Finland and Finnish Museum of Photography.

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Museum contact details

Turku Art Museum
Aurakatu 26, 20100 Turku

040 6323 378

Museum website

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Näytä reitti museolle Matkahuollon reittioppaassa


Katso reitti Matkahuollon reittioppaassa


Turku Art Museum, Aurakatu 26, 20100 Turku


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Admission fees

Admission with Museum Card
Admission with Museum Card


Vapaa psy kuukauden ensimminen perjantai klo 16-19. / Fritt intrde den frsta fredagen i mnaden kl. 16-19. / Free entry on first Friday of the month at 16-19.

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Tue 11:00-19:00
Wed 11:00-19:00
Thu 11:00-19:00
Fri 11:00-19:00
Sat 11:00-17:00
Sun 11:00-17:00

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