STORY A silent celebration of diversityBy Jani Niipola on May 18, 2021It all started with something imaginary. An Imaginary Herbarium, to be precise. Réka Kiraly is a visual storyteller, an illustrator and a founding member of Etana Editions, an independent picture book publisher. Now Kiraly has created the first artwork inside Glasshouse Helsinki’s store on Aleksanterinkatu.It also started with a dialogue. Kiraly recalls that she sat down with Glasshouse’s Mirkku Kullberg, Anna Vartiainen and Katja Hagelstam after the trio had seen her previous work. “We talked about a possible collaboration. They had seen the Herbarium and it was clear that the new work would be something with plans”, Kiraly explains.“My very first impression of the Finnish forest was that it was like a forest of individual people." - Réka KiralyThe large-scale work is located inside in the Aleksanterinkatu store. As Kiraly paints with a free-flowing, natural technique that fits the subject matter perfectly. She describes the previous work – Imaginary Herbarium – as “a set of ink-drawn portraits of people in form of plants”. An interpretation of that same peculiar idea is now seen on one of Glasshouse Helsinki walls. The wall is decorated with magical plants in black ink – a trademark of Kiraly. Kiraly is originally from Hungary and says her work is influenced by her Transylvanian background. She says that for her, “drawing is a way of thinking”.Another big influence for the Glasshouse Helsinki mural is an observation she made exploring the Finnish forests. “My very first impression of the Finnish forest was that it was like a forest of individual people. In the Finnish forest the birches and the pines are growing side by side, but they never touch each other. That was really strange for me.”The Glasshouse Helsinki mural combines the imaginary plants of Kiraly with the plants of the Finnish forest that are already extinct or seriously endangered.Kiraly says she is fascinated with modularity. This fascination is celebrated with the fact that actual decorative tiles with Kiraly’s illustrations will be sold in the Glasshouse Helsinki store alongside art prints of details the mural. “I wanted to create a silent celebration to diversity. It is also a remainder: diversity is necessary not only to survive but also to thrive”, Kiraly says. “This is not only related to plants but also to collaborations or people working together.”Réka Kiraly’s illustration will be displayed in the Glasshouse Helsinki store on Aleksanterinkatu 13.