Brightly coloured parrots, butterflies and flowers stand out against dense green foliage on a 40-metre-long mural along the walls of a footbridge leading to Kowloon Tong MTR station. The piece, Rainforest , took Finnish artist Riitta Kuisma, 49, a month to complete between August and September. As with many of her artworks, it drew inspiration from nature. “ Rainforest is colourful, fun and can interact with people of any age,” the Hong Kong-based artist says. “With my mural art, I wish to bring smiles on people’s faces and give positive energy.” Her mural blends well into the neighbourhood, while attracting the attention of passers-by. She began doing outdoor art in Hong Kong in 2015, and has completed more than 15 murals across the city, including in Sai Ying Pun, Sai Kung and Tai Po. Born in Finland, she studied painting there before pursuing monumental and decorative painting at the Moscow State University of Industrial and Applied Arts in Russia, graduating with a master’s degree in 1996. She moved to Hong Kong in 1997, when she arrived with her husband, who was starting a new job. She recently finished a mural in Hung Hom featuring flamingos, which appear in many of her public artworks. She says the pink bird is special to her because one of the first places she visited after arriving in Hong Kong was Kowloon Park in Tsim Sha Tsui, where she saw live flamingos. She named the Hung Hom mural Poetic Park , after a passer-by told her that the painting looked poetic. “That was beautifully said and very touching to me,” she says. South Korean port city now home to world’s largest mural Aside from painting, Kuisma also teaches art and does community art performances. Although Hong Kong has developed into Asia’s art hub in recent years, she says artists still face challenges, including high living expenses and rents, and a lack of financial support. I love all the interaction I have with people from different backgrounds, cultures and ages, as, in the end, the support and encouragement I receive go beyond Riitta Kuisma She says the city needs stronger arts education to nurture creativity and understanding, not only in art but in general. She enjoys working in public because it allows her to meet people, and she finds that nature — a major theme of her work – connects them. “I love all the interaction I have with people from different backgrounds, cultures and ages, as, in the end, the support and encouragement I receive go beyond,” she says.