Raija Liisa Uosikkinen (1923 – 2004) is mainly known for the illustrations and patterns she made for the design companies Arabia and Finel in the 1950-1970s.
She studied porcelain painting at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki from 1944 to 1947, and immediately started working at the ceramics factory Arabia after graduating. Her close friend and fellow illustrator, Esteri Tomula, was also recruited and they became colleagues up until the 1980s. One of Uosikkinen’s first tasks was to create illustrations for the newly appointed Kaj Franck’s B model ceramics. These illustrations were called Pellervo, Linnea and Polaris. Uosikkinen became head of the Arabia decoration department established in 1952.
In the late 1940s Franck started working on a new ceramic series called Kilta, launched to great success in 1953, and then illustrated with Uosikkinen’s perhaps most well known illustration – Emilia – in 1957. The Emilia series consisted of characters in different milieus and the series would be produced up until 1966. Uosikkinen illustrated other series as well in the style of Emilia but under different names and with other motives. Although the decorative Emilia series caused an uproar at the factory, the series was very well received by customers.
Other recognized illustrations are Pomona (1964-1971), stylized fruits on Ulla Procopé’s jars and the Ali pattern (1965-1970) – inspired by islamic ornaments. She drew inspiration for her designs from her extensive travels with more than 50 trips to East Asia and the Americas, documenting other cultures’ illustration styles with her camera.
With the oil crisis of 1973, Arabia had to rethink their ranges as well as accommodate new decoration styles of the time. Uosikkinen designed two annual collectors plate series in the mid to late 1970s: one featuring the Finnish epos Kalevala and the other Christmas scenes. The plates became hugely popular and it became Uosikkinen’s last work before retiring in 1986.
- Raija Liisa Uosikkinen
- 1923 – 2004
- Primarily known for her prolific illustrative work for Arabia and Finel, and for revitalising the porcelain illustration craft tradition in Finland.
- Participated in numerous domestic and foreign exhibitions. Featured at the Triennale in Italy in 1954 and 1960 and well as at the World Fair in Brussels in 1958. Her Hattara illustration won gold in Sacramento in the US in 1961.
- Taught decorative painting at the Toimela Free College and the University of Art and Design Helsinki parallell to her work.
Helsingin Sanomat: Taiteilija Raija Uosikkinen
Vintageunelmia – Raija Uosikkinen’s Emilia series
Glorian Antiikki magazine, 7/2012