Bonga and Riitta Nelimarkka websites
Bonga website

The inspiring gallery of the professor, artist Riitta Nelimarkka in the city of Loviisa, Finland, (1 hour drive east of Helsinki).

THE BONGA CASTLE is an exciting, even peculiar sight in the heart of the idyllic small town of Loviisa, immediately south of the church. Its original design was made by Mr. Th. Hjelt, an architect from Helsinki. After the Finnish civil war, the house ended up owned by the Baumgartner family. Its Jugendstil from with its red roofed towels was modified according to the design of architect Hilding Ekelund into a granite castle along the lines of Italian neo-Classicism and functionalism. Bonga Castle is a 2000 m2 patrician castle from 1906 and has been renovated to the original 1920 classical style. The gallery takes up 1/3 of the castle and shows the most essential part of the artist production. The spacious gallery is filled with light and vibrating colours.

In 1998 the estate came into its present owners Riitta Nelimarkka and Jaakko Seeck. The worn-out patrician castle has been renovated in the course of the years, with reverence to its old style. The church-side wing of the big main building now serves as atelier and production spaces. The south-side of the building has been renovated into an art museum-gallery that is open to the public. Nearly two hundred of Nelimarkka´s works are displayed there: drawings, aquarelles, graphic art, collages, woolen and flax reliefs, textile pictures, paintings, art and poetry books, photographs and animated films.

 ”At Bonga Castle in Loviisa, 80km from Helsinki, is my second studio. My third, fourth and fifth travel with me on planes and trains, in dreams. If Loviisa is a city, then Helsinki is New York. So small and peaceful is Loviisa.Even if I arrive a nervous wreck and sick of rushing around, at Bonga time stands still in a sphere, a “ball”, and a strange peace is traced on my soul. The more-than-a-century-old building exudes history. Even if you ask it nothing, the walls answer back. An ideal setting for coming up with ideas. The haunting of the building is incomparable and hilarious. And yet, sometimes during the night, you can hear teardrops falling. Bonga is strangely large, outright pompous in appearance, but surprisingly well-suited to being a half-mad stronghold of art. There is a nice contrast.Renovating the building has taken us more than 20 years. Or actually it has given us those years. It is heated ecologically with woodchips, a solution we have not regretted for a moment. Half of the house is studio, working and storage spaces. Half is a whitewashed gallery, where the works are hung, mostly on aesthetic grounds. No chronology… “Time is an illusion”. (Einstein). Time is not a line and “change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal”. (Schopenhauer).Bonga castle is itself a person, a myrtle philosopher standing on stone feet. Its silence is magical, but it is equally lovable when the whole edifice and gardens are filled with friends, visitors, musicians… With adults, youths and children. Actually it is always precisely then that its most beautiful flowers burst into bloom.”

The tour around the castle includes guiding and possibility to purchase items in the gallery shop. Soft drinks available. Cakes upon request. The Bonga Castle is open upon reservation around the year.

The tour gives a unique possibility to see the artist studio and works in progress. The visit takes 60 min. The Bonga Castle is open upon reservation around the year.

Video link:

En Francais

Dans la petite ville idyllique de Loviisa, situé au centre-ville, au sud de l’église, le château de Bonga est un bâtiment intéressant et même étrange. C’est un couple d’origine de Pietarsaari qui l’a fait construire pour leur maison au début du siècle dernier. L’architecte venu d’Helsinki, Th. Hjelt a dessiné les plans de construction originaux dans les années 20. L’édifice de style art nouveau avec ses tours de toits rouges a été modifié selon les dessins de l’architecte Hilding Ekelund qui le voulait un château de granit suivant le néoclassicisme et le fonctionnalisme italiens.

En 1998, les artistes Riitta Nelimarkka et Jaakko Seeck sont devenus les propriétaires du château qui, au fil du temps, l’ont rénové en respectant les dessins originaux. Le bâtiment principal, l’aile qui se trouve près de l’église, abrite l’atelier de l’artiste. Les salles de la partie sud du bâtiment ont été aménagées en musée d’art et galeries, ouvertes au public. Dans ces salles sont exposées presque deux cents oeuvres de Riitta Nelimarkka des 30 dernières années: dessins, aquarelles, oeuvres d’art graphique, collages, reliefs en laine et en lin, tapisseries, peintures, livres d’art et de poésie, photos et films d’animations.

Riitta Nelimarkka website

Professor Riitta Nelimarkka is a distinctive and versatile artist whose repertoire includes graphic art, animated films, paintings, art and poetry books, textile art, and extensive exhibition entities. She has doctor´s degree in the arts (DA at UIAH, Helsinki) and has studied painting in Paris, photography, film and art education at the Konstfacken, Academy of Art in Stockholm and piano playing at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki.

Her art is characterized by brilliant colors and innovative irony. In recent years, her production has centered on comprehensive collections of drawings, photographs, velvet pictures and woolen reliefs. She has also been commissioned a great number of works, including the large-scale “Con Calore” woolen carpets for the official residence of the President of Finland.

Her artworks, illustrations and animated films have been presented at various international festivals and biennals. She has been awarded numerous prizes and honorary mentions for her works.

Video link:

En Francais

Riitta Nelimarkka, artiste patronné par l’État, est une artiste originale avec des aptitudes variées. Son oeuvre comprend de l’art graphique, des films d’animation, des livres d’art et de poésie, de la tapisserie et de grandes expositions de son art. Elle a soutenu sa thèse de doctorat en art à l’École Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, étudié la peinture à l’huile à L’École d’Art Libre, de la photographie, de l’art cinématographique et de l’éducation artistique à Konstfackskolan, l’École des arts décoratifs et du design de Stockholm, du cinéma à l’École des Arts Décoratifs et du piano à l’Académie Sibelius.

L’art de Riitta Nelimarkka est caractérisé par des couleurs vives et des aphorismes inventifs ainsi que par la sensibilité et la mobilité de sa personnalité; toutes ces qualités liées à un humour original et à une ironie intellectuelle. Sa production artistique de ces derniers temps comprend des vastes collections de dessins, d’images en velours et de reliefs en laine. En plus, l’artiste a réalisé des oeuvres sur commande, dont p.ex. les grands tapis en laine “Con Calore”, qui se trouvent dans la résidence officielle de Président de la République finlandaise.

Avec ses oeuvres d’art pictural, ses illustrations ainsi que ses films d’animation Riitta Nelimarkka a participé à plusieurs festivals et biennales internationales; pour ses oeuvres, elle a été couronné de plusieurs prix et de mentions honorables.

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