Úľuv is the national centre for Slovak folk arts and crafts. It has two main roles: to maintain traditional Slovak crafts and skills for future generations, and also to show the gems of Slovak folk culture to both locals and visitors. Thus, it not only makes exhibitions of Slovak (and sometimes other nations’) folk art, but also maps the way that old traditions are recast in modern design, and organises courses and workshops for contemporaries enchanted by the old skills that have now to some extent been replaced by machine production. “We are the only state organisation that is in charge of preserving and also developing traditional culture in Slovakia,” Martin Minárik of Úľuv told a press conference on June 29.
Úľuv was founded back in 1945, but its position and role have changed since then. As for its active part, the Škola remesiel / School of Crafts has existed since 1999 and now has two branches, in Bratislava and Banská Bystrica, with a third planned for Košice. The school aims to teach both children and adults the handicrafts that were once typical for Slovakia and could have been either a source of living, or a hobby taken over by generation after generation. Education takes the form of long-term courses, one-off workshops for schools or for individuals, re-qualification courses accredited by the Education Ministry, summer daily camps for schoolchildren, intensive summer courses for adults, excursions, education for lecturers, exchange of information, and more. On June 29, Úľuv opened its doors to journalists to watch – and even try with their own hands – the activities of the School of Crafts. The tinkers’, textile, corn-husk, glass-painting, wood-cutting and leather-handling workshops offered a taste for those interested. Only pottery was not included, as the making of a mug or terracotta decoration would take too long. Making one’s own hand-made decoration in the middle of an otherwise stressful day was very relaxing and satisfying.
However, the second role of Úľuv may be of even wider interest. In 2008, the Museum of Folk Art and Crafts was founded in Stupava; it collects, maintains and exhibits not only documents, but also material artefacts showcasing the development of Slovak folk culture. It contains 10,500 textile items and more than 3,000 non-textile exhibits and is an open deposit, meaning that it is not routinely open to visitors but can be made accessible upon request. The centre also operates a library and issues a magazine about crafts, art and design entitled RUD (Remeslá/Umenie/Dizajn). There are several Úľuv galleries throughout Slovakia: apart from one in Banská Bystrica and one in Tatranská Lomnica, there is also one in Bratislava, as well as the Design Studio in the capital. The latter presents and sells modern art and design works inspired by traditional styles. The centre’s activities also comprise national craft contests like Rings in Water, and festivals like the Craftsmen Days in downtown Bratislava. Exhibitions often include selections of foreign folk art or their exchange, as for example in the Sloverige collection of Slovak and Swedish contemporary art and design works stemming from traditional crafts. The exhibition Prezliekanie v čase / Changing Clothes in the Course of Time recently opened in the courtyard of the Culture Ministry in Bratislava (and will remain there until October 20). It shows both traditional folklore costumes and modern design from both Slovakia and Norway. The exhibition has been organised by Úľuv in co-operation with the Norwegian Embassy in Slovakia.
Another exhibition masterfully combining the past with the present is Folklore is Alive! This exhibition of modern design from the countries of the Visegrad Group (Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland) is the result of cooperation between cultural and art centres, cultural institutes and design schools, and is authored by Dita Hálová from the Czech Centre in Prague. Special mention goes to the renowned Monoly-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest (founded in 1880), the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague, the Faculty of Art and Design in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic, and the Czech Centre in Stockholm, all of which contributed to the exhibition items and expertise. Folklore is Alive! embodies one branch of Úľuv’s activities, focused on foreign traditions, art and design, and is presented in cooperation with the other countries. The Rings in Water competition organised by the Centre for Folk Art Production and Polish Remembrance, organised by Poland’s Cepelia, were inspirations for the project. The travelling exhibition subtitled “The Traces of Folklore in the Current Design of the Visegrad Countries” offers an unusual view of young artists from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia via traditional folklore, Minárik said. Until September 3, this exhibition can be seen in the Úľuv Gallery, Obchodná 64 in Bratislava, on Tuesdays to Fridays between 12:00 and 18:00, and on Saturdays between 10:00 and 14:00. More information about the current exhibitions and other activities can be found at www.uluv.sk.
15. Aug 2011 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff