Destined for Creativity – ITE and Friends
Oulu Museum of Art 2.6.–20.9.2020


During its 20th anniversary tour, ITE celebrates with its friends from the fields of outsider and contemporary art. Congratulations!

When ITE entered the Finnish art scene at Kaustinen Folk Art Centre’s exhibition in 2000, hardly anyone realised that it had come to stay. The public immediately embraced ITE art, and it has been hugely popular ever since. The tour was launched at the ITE Museum in Kokkola and it will travel to Hämeenlinna Art Museum from Oulu. It is compiled by art researcher Minna Haveri, producer Liisa Heikkilä-Palo and ITE curator Elina Vuorimies.

Destined for Creativity is a cross-section of the art that flourishes in the margins and often still remains an outsider of the art world. The themed sections of the exhibition are platforms of interaction for different forms of art, techniques of expression as well as the continuum of the art form from past to present and their creators’ life stories. The works are characterised by bright colours, expressiveness, childlike innocence, manic repetition and rough realism. Typical subjects include animals, depictions of common people, expression of opinion and dreamlike and paradise-like visions. The exhibition takes viewers to the origins of creativity found in European outsider art and ITE art, and it shows the art audience paths through which individual works and stories become part of a larger narrative. Guests from the field of contemporary art from Iceland, Scotland and Finland have been invited to join the journey.

One of the most fascinating features of ITE art is how artists overcome the challenges of using unorthodox materials. Don’t expect concrete to show the delicateness of plaster casting, and the tin in the drink can was not intended to turn into a sculpture. The brutality and clumsiness of ITE art is all about primordial creativity, the power of which is the envy of other types of contemporary art. Despite the vast range of materials that it uses, ITE art has a wooden heart. Wood carving is a skill that combines tradition with artistic imagination. The exhibition also shows how marvellous the outcome can be when textile craftsmanship is guided by wild creativity and a passion for self-expression!

Art environments cannot be brought to exhibitions; they must be experienced on site or, alternatively, they need to be presented through various types of records and documents. Photographer Veli Granö started documenting courtyards as early as the 1980s. ITE surveys that have spread across Finland have followed in his footsteps, and other professional photographers have joined in. The photographs also store what has already been lost.

Contemporary ITE lives among us and gives us hints of the future. The uniquely individual men and women of rural areas now have fellow artists in urban environments, where creativity continues to explore new horizons – as self-confident and open-minded as ever.

The exhibition tour has been produced in collaboration with the K.H.Renlund Museum and the Art Museums in Hämeenlinna and Oulu.


Ann-Mari Erichsen (Bergen, Norway), Aradne (Brighton, UK), Janko Domsic (Croatia, Paris), Tyyne Esko (Kokkola), Veli Granö (Porvoo), Viljo Gustafsson (Karkkila), Paulus de Groot (Rotterdam), Tuula Huusko (Kajaani), Mike Inglis (Edinburgh), Rósa Sigrún Jónsdóttir (Reykjavik), Jan Kaila (Helsinki), Martti Kapanen (Jyväskylä), Alpo Koivumäki (Kauhajoki), Tapani Kokko (Orimattila), Juri Kozlov (St. Petersburg), Arto Liiti (Rovaniemi), Viljo Luokkanen (Pudasjärvi), Daniel Moser (Neuenburg/Baden), Lauri Mäkäräinen (Paltamo), Väinö Oja (Paimio), Hannu Paju (Seinäjoki), Timo Peltonen (Korpilahti), Juha Pesonen (Tampere), Jyri Rastas (Tampere), Ilmari Salminen (Petäjävesi), Kaarina Staudinger-Loppukaarre (Savonlinna), Jukka Säntti (Sodankylä), Ensio Tuppurainen (Vekaranjärvi), Hanna Viitala (Pori), Väinö Ylén (Kodisjoki)

About ITE and outsider art

ITE art is the art of self-made life. ITE artists are not professional artists, yet they have outstanding visual skills, and making art has become a significant part of their lives. In ITE art, the message is often expressed by simple and accessible means. Creativity, open-mindedness, playfulness, inventiveness and craftsmanship are at the heart of ITE learning. Art is a channel of expression and an opportunity to leave traces in the surrounding world. It’s a way to be seen and to describe life, oneself, one’s dreams and opinions.

Like ITE art, outsider art also emerges from outside the art world. Traditionally, an artist without art education or grants is referred to as an outsider. Outsider art is often created in one’s home environment or in a supported artistic activity.


Photo above and in banner: Tuula Huusko, Untitled, 1990s, marker pen. Photo: Pekka Agarth.

Ann-Mari Erichsen, Jeg er mig (I am Me), 2014, felt tip pen on paper, Sør-Troms Museum – Trastad samlinger. Photo: Mika Friman.


Veli Granö, Alpo Koivumäki, 1986, 2018, fotosec prints, K.H.Renlund Museum, Association for Rural Culture and Education – ITE Art Collection.

Tapani Kokko, Dinner for Two, 2016-2019, Sara Hildén Foundation / Sara Hildén Art Museum, A Girl and A Bear (part of the Dinner for Two installation) 2020 and Exotic fruit (fruit on a plate), 2016, K.H. Renlund Museum, wood, mixed media. Photo: Mika Friman.

Veli Granö, Ilmari Salminen, 1999, fotosec prints, K.H.Renlund Museum, Association for Rural Culture and Education – ITE Art Collection.

Tyttö ja lammas / A Girl and a Sheep, 2016, The Biblia Woman, 2007, Woman, painted wood, Association for Rural Culture and Education – ITE Art Collection. Photo: Mika Friman.

Rósa Sigrún Jónsdóttir, Vortex – Svelgir, 2015, crocheted and knitted sculptures. Photo: Mika Friman.