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Inka Kivalo (b. 1956) is a one of the leading names in modern Finnish textile art. Her colourist works combine ancient weaving and embroidery techniques with an intuitive painterliness.

“Everything starts with the yarn, which I twist together out of yarns and fine strands”, Kivalo describes. “This may include gold thread or inherited silla rayon. Since I make my yarns myself, I get a rich palette of shades of colour, which I further mix together by weaving.” Kivalo’s most important piece of equipment is her more-than-a-century-old loom made from the root of a spruce tree. Nevertheless, traditional tools and techniques do not appear in her works as nostalgia, rather, they are visual painting with yarn and an ecstatic experience of colour.

As a counterweight to the gobelin tapestries created at her loom Kivalo also works more freely with malleable objects. The textile sculptures with human shapes made by embroidering occupy the exhibition as if they were both artworks and viewers. They create a framework for the exhibition at the Alvar Aalto Museum, part of which is being seen by the public for the first time. “Some of the sculptures are recognizable portraits, while others combine several characters. Each sculpture has grown into its own personality during the working process and the modelling of the figure,” Kivalo says.

Inka Kivalo was named Finnish Textile Artist of the Year – the most important art-textile prize in Finland – in the year 2000 for her professionally and artistically outstanding work. In 2018, she received the Maire Gullichsen Prize, set up under the Alvar Aalto Foundation to mark the patron’s 80th birthday in 1988. Kivalo’s most recent accolade is the Stiftelsen Fokus Borås foundation’s Nordic Award in Textiles and the accompanying exhibition at Borås in Sweden in 2019. Besides fine art Kivalo has, for instance, made designs for Marimekko. She also taught for several years at the University of Industrial Arts Helsinki (now Aalto University).

Inka Kivalo´s CV is available here. (pdf-file)

See online presentation of the exhibition

The opening of the exhibition is on Thursday, February 20, 2020. You are warmly welcome!


Further information:
Curator Mari Murtoniemi
Tel. +358 40 355 9162

Educational curator Lotta Leskelä
Tel. +358 400 254 708

Meda enquiries:
Communications Mirkka Vidgrén
Tell. +358 40 168 5142

Inka Kivalo’s gobelin tapestries and textile sculptures

February 21–April 26, 2020 at the Gallery of the Alvar Aalto Museum

Alvar Aallon katu 7, Jyväskylä, Finland
Open Tue-Sun 11-18


Inka Kivalo´s artworks at the Alvar Aalto Museum´s Gallery exhibition. Photos Maija Holma, Alvar Aalto Foundation.