Miroslav Kalman, Erika Majerská, Ladislav Kunetka and Emanuel Hodál have come together to exhibit, as well as offer for sale, their works in the western Slovak town of Pezinok (15 kilometres north of Bratislava). The World of Tinkers exhibition will run until April 10.
The only woman in the group, Erika Majerská, 62, devotes herself to creating tiny things. She binds some 10-metre long copper and silver wire around egg shells and bottles decorating them with all kinds of patterns. She also twines the blown out eggs into a bunch of grapes. And her almost 30-centimetre roosters have their wire feathers carefully arranged.
"She is famous for not repeating one pattern in her works," says Soňa Kozáková, the exhibition's curator.
Emanuel Hodál is more a tinker-sculptor. He forms people as well as animals out of steel and zinc wires. There is a wire blacksmith, a saxophonist, a guitarist and even a complete traditional Detva string band.
While the third exhibitor, Miroslav Kalman, is celebrated for creating typical tinker's bowls and pots by using a basketry technique - crossing a dozen wires in the middle and then interlacing them - Ladislav Kunetka, whose ancestors were traditional tinkers, combines wire with zinc into a clock pendulum, a coat of arms as well as other functional articles.
"The roots of the tinkery craft come from [northern Slovakia's] Kysuce region. It's a Slovak speciality that was exported abroad," says Kozáková.
Originating around the 17th century, Slovakia's traditional tinkers used to walk from one village to another to repair broken pots with wire. After the second world war, tinkery died away as large factories growing under communism replaced small businesses.
Today, however, tinkery is experiencing a revival. Every year, tinkers from across Slovakia meet at Budatín castle in Žilina region. Every three years, they create new works based on a certain theme, renewing the castle's stable exhibition. The castle was also the place where the idea was hatched to organise the Pezinok exhibition, offering four different approaches to twisting a wire.
"It's amazing that most of the tinkers today are women, while in the past tinkery was purely a man's thing," says Kozáková, who has also been captivated by tinkery. As she explains, one needs great patience to form wire into a desired object, so it's understandable that it has become a woman's work. In past, men needed sheer strength to repair pots, but now the craft has become art form.
The World of Tinkers exhibition (open Mon-Fri 8:00-20:00) runs at Kultúrne centrum on Holubyho 42 in Pezinok until April 10. Admission is free. Tel: 033/6413-949.
By Zuzana Habšudová