Ruovesi and its surroundings in Pirkanmaa have attracted artists since the 1820s. All the artists who have operated in the region are linked by an interest in the spirit of the place, its nature, people and culture. How has this influenced the art of those who have worked in Ruovesi? The exhibition is curated by the keeper of prints and drawings at the Ateneum, Anu Utriainen.

The first visual artist to make trips around Ruovesi was Werner Holmberg (1830–1860), whose works depicted local nature, landscapes and scenes of rustic life. In the mid-1890s, Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865–1931), who fell in love with the landscapes in Ruovesi, built his Kalela ‘wilderness studio’ there, which is where he created his iconic Kalevala-themed works.

Kalela was visited, among others, by Hugo Simberg (1873–1917), whose work features devil figures, death and natural mysticism, which were inspired by the rustic culture of the region surrounding Kalela. Ellen Thesleff (1869–1954) also had a studio villa of her own design built in Murole in Ruovesi. Throughout her life, Thesleff explored the landscapes and moods of Murole in her art.

The other artists featured in the exhibition include Lauri Anttila, the artist couple Elga Sesemann and Seppo Näätänen, and Louis Sparre, who have all lived or worked in Ruovesi. The exhibited works date from the 1850s to the 1980s.