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Strata project - a short history

In the mid-80´s Osmo Rauhala was contacted by local people, who were concerned about large sandpits in his village becoming an environmental hazard when closed. They called Osmo, because in 1975, while he was in high school Osmo fought to preserve a small river in his village with endangered trout and mussel species living in it.
Osmo Rauhala realized the number of pits could make the whole area a large gallery for environmental art. The sandy hill area where the pits are is also the beginning point of the river mentioned above and an important source for ground water.
Robert Smithson was one of the most interesting artist to Rauhala at that time and he spoke about this idea to his professor in the Art Academy of Helsinki. Among the students in Academy´s sculpture department they had a small idea lab with Osmo about possible art pieces to the pits.There was no money or organization to carry out anything in the area, so Rauhala established a non-profit named Strata-project for it, and got the local towns Nokia and Ylöjärvi , and some of the owners of the pits involved. There is a law, that you have to landscape these kinds of pits when the mining is over, and Strata presented art as one way to do it.
Osmo started his Masters studies in NYC in 1988, and met Nancy Holt, who got interested in Strata. She came to visit the site in 1990. Osmo also met director Karl Katz from the Met in NYC, who supported his idea a lot and also visited the site in Pinsiö.
Around same time Rauhala started fundraising for the project and contacted sponsors and our Ministry of Environment for help. Osmo knew some people there through the river conservation work.
Rauhala was able the get some major sponsors like Lohja Group and Timberjack behind it, and he started planning the building project with the Nokia township who owns Up and Under and the Ylöjärvi township who owns Treemountain.
Rauhala also contacted the local Tampere Art Museum and Contemporary Museum of Art in Helsinki (today Kiasma) in order to organize an exhibition with an environmental theme, which was not common in Finland at that time.
As a result, there was a Strata show 1992 in the Tampere Art Museum in collaboration with the Helsinki Museum with seven international artists including Nancy Holt and Agnes Denes in it. Rauhala was the initiator of that show and curated it with his professor Lauri Anttila and critic Tom Sandqvist. At the same time, between 1990-92, Rauhala got our Ministry of Environment interested in Strata too and the Ministry presented the project in the 1992 Summit in Rio where the trees in Treemountain were donated to the leaders of the world at that time.
Rauhala met Agnes Denes for the first time in NYC around 1990, and realized that her piece Treemountain would fit very well to the Pinsiö area. He invited Agnes to the project while Nancy was already planning her piece for it.
Strata initiated the idea for using the Pinsiö sites, produced the pieces and financed the majority of the budget. The townships took care of the construction and also provided financial support for that. The Finnish Ministry of Environment also aided Strata during the process.
The Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari opened Treemountain in 1996 and the Minister of Environment, Pekka Haavisto, opened Up and Under in 1997. Both had been personal friends of Rauhala already then.
Strata got a lot of press and visitors from the beginning, but there has been many ups and downs with the project, which is very hard for a volunteer organization like Strata and small towns to maintain. Now there is funding to restore Up and Under in 2024 and Rauhala is working hard to make the same happen for Treemountain by 2026. It will also soon be 40 years since Rauhala started Strata-project and countless hours of voluntary work for it. Rauhala has been the head of Strata from the start to the present. In 2010´s Strata got help from a local art residency, and some needed activity was done.