An art competition in two parts was organised at the initiative of Forum Box. The competition lasted from August 2020 to August 2021 and other organisers were Port of Helsinki, City of Helsinki, and Helsinki Art Museum HAM.
The purpose of the competition was to find a public artwork for the West Harbour area. The artwork needed to reflect the identity of the area: Jätkäsaari has quickly transformed into an urban neighbourhood and a passenger transport hub. It also has over a hundred years’ worth of harbour and industrial history behind it that is nowadays linked to the busy West Harbour. 93 proposals were submitted to the competition 5 of which were selected for the second stage.
Architect Akseli Leinonen won the competition with the proposal "Litorinameren kalastajat". The artwork will be located in the Atlantinaukio and Madeiranaukio squares. The squares and the artwork are estimated to be built in 2022–2025. Three prizes were awarded in the competition. The first prize was awarded to Akseli Leinonen, the second prize to a group formed by Henrik Amberla (industrial designer) and Sara Pathirane (visual artist) with the proposal "Ikiaikainen" and the third prize to sculptor Riikka Puronen with proposal "Lumienkelikyltit".
The jury of the competition consisted of 7 members representing all the organisers and included two members appointed by the Finnish Artists’ Association.
Looking into the Past – Looking into the Future
Akseli Leinonen’s artwork "Litorinameren kalastajat" connects the Atlantinaukio and Madeiranaukio squares by drawing the sea surface 15 meters above our heads. The rising sea levels are a common topic in the age of climate change. With this artwork we are looking into both the future and the past, the distant prehistorical Litorina Sea. For thousands of years the sea was a route connecting lands, peoples, and persons. The harbour continues this historical and cultural heritage of connecting.
What Was the Litorina Sea?
Akseli Leinonen describes the idea for the artwork: "In 6000 BCE the Helsinki area was dominated by the Litorina Sea, the predecessor of the Baltic Sea. Its surface was about 20 meters higher than the current sea level. This prehistoric sea was filled with the meltwater from the Ice Age and at its largest it covered almost one third of the current Finnish land area. This was the Mesolithic Period when the main livelihoods of the people living in the area were hunting, fishing, and gathering from the nature. The settlements were mostly temporary, and the life was nomadic. However, the water level was continuously sinking as the water flowed to the Atlantic Ocean through the Danish straits. By the start of the Common Era the area had its current shape, and new inhabitants had settled in the former sea floor. Among these inhabitants were also humans that started to settle permanently in the area little by little.
Text: Kersti Tainio (project coordinator and secretary of the competition)