The artist behind the artwork in Tapiola talks about its birth: influenced by Little My and Frida Kahlo

A large ponytailed statue stands on the bright white platform at Tapiola metro station – it is Emma leaves a trace, a newly unveiled work of art by the artist Kim Simonsson. The artwork Emma leaves a trace, funded by EMMA Espoo Museum of Modern Art, blends in with the rest of the station due to its white colour, but a colourful hand draws the viewer’s attention: Emma has clearly dipped her hand into a can of paint.

It took Kim Simonsson a long time to decide what kind of artwork he wanted to create for the public space – a metro station, which according to Strafica’s prediction will see approximately 26,000 passengers per day.

“In many ways it’s more difficult to design art for a public space than for a private commission, because the work has to be able to withstand use. Choosing the right material is important. The subject also has to be carefully considered because of the public location,” says Simonsson.

The final idea of a mischievous Emma, who leaves her handprints on walls, was born when Simonsson was out walking in Fiskars with his partner.

“I wanted the piece to be anarchic in one way or another, but not too much. On that walk, I thought of a child painting on a wall – painting on a wall is a very liberating experience,” says Simonsson.

The result was Emma, who was influenced by Little My and Frida Kahlo, among others, and whose idiom combines realism and the softness of animated characters. The hair of the statue was originally meant to be in a bun similar to that of Little My’s, but that did not come to be.

“These models, strong women, have often had buns, but it looked too static on a statue. There is a sense of spaciousness in a ponytail,” says Simonsson.

Emma stands firmly on the platform – the statue is bolted into the platform with half-metre-long bolts to make sure that it does not fall over. Emma’s material is durable bronze that is painted white apart from the hand.

Traces left by Emma can be seen at the station – the first ones are visible when going up the escalator towards the ticket hall. The wall is decorated by a colourful stripe combining green, yellow, red and blue. Similar traces of colour can be found throughout the station, and the story also continues as digital animation.

“Emma is a strong and independent character. It would be fun if she became friends with users of the metro station,” smiles Simonsson.

Emma Simonsson’s art work Emma leaves a trace really leaves traces around the station.