Many of us grow up with enchanting stories of fairies, elves and other legendary forest dwellers. As we get older, these mythical tales tend to fade into the background, but sometimes we are confronted with instances that inspire that same childhood wonder about the mysteries of the natural world.
Finnish sculptor Kim Simonsson is one artist whose works invoke these magical worlds hidden among the trees. In particular, his Moss People series depicts a variety of child-like, life-sized figures that seem to be covered in fuzzy, green moss. Inspired by Nordic folklore, the sculptures are often placed in natural settings and photographed to create thought-provoking images. Watch this interview with Simonsson via Jefunne Gimpel:
Simonsson started sculpting young: as a child, he was shaping fully fledged characters out of snow, while his friends were building conventional snowmen. As he got older, he developed his drawing talents further, and eventually applied to a fine arts school. But for some reason, he missed the application deadline for the school's painting program, and instead was accepted into the ceramics and glass department, thinking that he would stay for a year and then transfer over to painting later. However, Simonsson soon realized that working in three dimensions was much more satisfying, and he's kept sculpting ever since.
Surprisingly, Simonsson stumbled upon his signature moss-covering by accident. As he explains, he was experimenting with different materials and techniques, and heard about a flocking technique that glass artists use in conjunction with a nylon fibre in order to electrostatically transfer it to a glass surface, covering it with a velvety finish.
So one day in 2012, Simonsson dusted neon yellow nylon fibre onto a black-painted sculpture that he didn't much like, transforming it completely into a verdant green and rather magical-looking figure.
As Simonsson tells My Modern Met, this mossiness was a revelation:
I soon realized the potential of this as a storytelling factor, as I was making these fairytale creatures. And I live in the forest so they where connected with my surroundings.
Simonsson's sculptures are first hand-built with stoneware clay, and then fired in a kiln, painted and flocked with nylon fibre. Sporting woodland garb, wands, or feathers in their hair, each one is unique, and hint at a treasure trove of stories that we may have otherwise forgotten.
Each culture is made up of many stories: ones that we tell each other and ourselves. The content and structure of these stories are important in defining how we relate to each other and to nature, and works like those of Simonsson's help us to envision a more innocent state of connectedness wherein we are part and parcel of nature, rather than apart from it. To see more, visit Kim Simonsson and Instagram.