My lead to the art school was a dead end, as I suspected, so after a bit of a walk up and around the garden path, I popped into nearby Bratislava City Gallery. As well as permanent work, there were three brilliant temporary exhibitions (one on each floor) from local and international contemporary artists. I particularly wanted to spend loads more time with Daphne Guinness’ amazing video works, but alas I had to be somewhere else.
Next stop was a very recently pre-arranged two-hour one-to-one tinkering lesson at ULUV, the centre for folk art production. Fortunately for me, my Tinker, Marta, had spent a few years in UK in the past. There are so many people who don’t speak English here that I had no expectations, but since she was trying to cram a year’s course into two hours, it actually helped to have some verbal as well as visual communication. I’ll put this in a separate post, but basically Marta showed me the beginnings of so many tinkering techniques – trusting me to then work out the rest at a later date – and working at such a pace so as to send me off with as many starting points as possible – I’m so thankful she accommodated my individual needs. I don't intend to make pears and baskets, but rather to use some of the techniques within my own sculpture and installations. My brain is now full thank you.
Not yet having even a stop for coffee (or soup!), I spent some time in a temporary craft market, recommended by Marta, and then it was soon time for my next appointment – an evening art exhibition preview. Prior to coming out here, I’d contacted an artist, Blanka Sperkova, primarily an animation film-maker, but who uses wire and finger-knits it into figurative and abstract sculptures. She lives in Czech Republic and had had an exhibition that I’d missed in Saltaire, West Yorkshire, last year. Coincidentally, she was showing work in a group show in Umelka Gallery, Bratislava, this week, and invited me along to the preview.
Umelka Gallery used to be the Slovak Artistic Club, and its name derives from ‘umelecka beseda’ meaning art talk. At the preview I met all sorts of interesting artists and their guests before identifying Blanka in the crowds – randomly and intuitively, though confirmed by the fact she was wearing some of her sculpture! After introducing me to the curators and organisers of the show, I was then invited for further fraternising upstairs with the participating artists, some as far as Japan, and curators from inside and outside of Slovakia.