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Katri Haahti, Cranberry bog 2008, 160 x 105 cm, Tuomas Sopanen collection. Image: Kari Jämsén.

Woven Beauty – Four centuries of Finnish ryijy textiles

7.11.2020 - 3.1.2021

The exhibition compiled from Tuomas Sopanen’s ryijy collection is a unique cross-section of traditional ryijy textiles from Finland from the 18th century until today. Kunsthalle Helsinki will explore the intriguing story of the Finnish ryijy through 130 exhibited ryijys.  

The exhibition Woven Beauty – Four centuries of Finnish ryijy textiles presents a wide and diverse selection of ryijys that shows their richness as well as their many shapes, textures and patterns that have changed over time. The ryijy has seen many colourful phases in its history and recent times, always returning in new forms to carry on its lively tradition for new generations.

Kunsthalle Helsinki will exhibit ryijys from over 300 years. The selection of around 130 ryijys includes traditional types from the 18th and 19th centuries such as bridal and tree of life motifs, modern artistic ryijys from the 1960s, as well as new ryijys from recent years that exemplify a diversity of materials.

All the ryijy textiles in the exhibition belong to Tuomas Sopanen‘s incomparable collection of nearly 600 ryijys. They represent the largest private ryijy collection in Finland – a labour of love, the result of over two decades of collecting ryijys with the guiding thought of documenting their diverse history as comprehensively as possible. Art historian and Doctor of Philosophy Juha-Heikki Tihinen and Kunsthalle Helsinki’s Head of Exhibitions Eeva Holkeri have curated the selection on display at the exhibition from this exceptional material.

Ryijy collector Tuomas Sopanen, PhD, is an emeritus professor of Plant Science at the University of Joensuu and specialises in Plant Physiology and Plant Biotechnology. Sopanen co-authored the book The ryijy-rug lives on – Finnish ryijy-rugs 1778-2008 together with Leena Willberg. Sopanen is currently retired and holds lectures on ryijy art.


Katri Haahti, Cranberry bog 2008, 160 x 105 cm, Tuomas Sopanen collection. Image: Kari Jämsén.