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ART SMITHS GATHER IN TURČIANSKE TEPLICE SPA TO LEAVE TRACES

Park of metal

SEVERAL places in Slovakia serve as fertile ground for groups of artists to meet regularly and create works. One is the Pustý Chotár manor house in the tiny village of Beladice, near Nitra, where local and world's celebrated ceramists gather to produce a unique atmosphere with their clay artworks. Another is the Turčianske Teplice spa, which each year nurtures dozens of new smithery works that add to the town's distinctive spirit.

Two years ago, the father and son team of Igor and Adam Čierny sparked the interest of Turčianske Teplice spa visitors with these two metal fish.
photo: Braňo Gregor

SEVERAL places in Slovakia serve as fertile ground for groups of artists to meet regularly and create works. One is the Pustý Chotár manor house in the tiny village of Beladice, near Nitra, where local and world's celebrated ceramists gather to produce a unique atmosphere with their clay artworks. Another is the Turčianske Teplice spa, which each year nurtures dozens of new smithery works that add to the town's distinctive spirit.

This year's Smiths' Days festival will take place on the weekend of July 1 and 2. Up to 50 smiths, jewellery makers and cutlers from the region will forge their work in front of visitors' eyes in the spa park and display what they've hammered out throughout the year in their workshops.

photo: Courtesy of Smiths' Days

The event has seen several intriguing works over the years, including a sculpture of hydroelectric "tin smiths" that can still be found in the park. And two years ago, father and son Igor and Adam Čierny created two fish - one with iron pick axe shafts for bones and the other with long sharp teeth - that sparked local interest.

"This year's novelty will be a mechanical furnace with a hand drive that will bring visitors back to the time of our ancestors, before electricity," says František Mičuda, the event's organiser.

Imagination is limitless.
photo: Courtesy of Smiths' Days

Mičuda, who's an IT professional by day, was asked to organise the event in Teplice six years ago. Previously the happening took place at Červený Kameň and Devín Castles. He calls the art "relaxing hard work" that draws him out of the technocracy in which he works.

Art smiths used to shoe horses, but today create decorative objects of animal or figurative motifs to supplement gates, railings or fences. Compared to the large items they created for exteriors several years ago, such as parts of fountains, for example, the latest decorations are smaller and used in exteriors, as well as interiors.

Around 40 art smithery shops exist in Slovakia. Many are private firms started and managed by students from the Applied Arts School in Kremnica, the country's leading school in the field.

"Each year the school attracts eight-nine new students, so there is definitely interest in the craft. Its similar for the businesses. They have plenty of work in their workshops," said the school's director, Ján Malach.

Smiths will also try a mechanical furnace with a hand drive this year.
photo: Courtesy of Smiths' Days

The school has attended the Smiths' Days festival since its inception. Along with the works of its current students, one will also see the latest products by the school's alumni. Among them is Peter Bazelides from the Bazokov firm in Kremnica, which produces anything from hand-forged furniture to weapon replicas.

Visitors will find up to a hundred of metal artworks hanging from trees or resting in the grass. A handful of new ones will be created on the spot during the event, and will stay to decorate the Turčianske Teplice spa houses and the adjacent park, which are currently undergoing reconstruction. Upon completion, visitors will be able to view the works throughout the year.

In line with traditional, a shot from a musket will open the country's largest smithery happening on June 1 at 10:00.

What: Smiths' Days - 11th international meeting of art smiths.
When: July 1 (10:00 to midnight) and July 2 (10:30 to 15:00)
Where: the spa town of Turčianske Teplice (north east of Prievidza).
www.kovacskedni.sk

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