Current & future events

Spring Meadow at Slapy

Veronika Oleríny – 2015 Summer Exhibition at Slapy

 

Starting from June, you may encounter new spatial installations right on the golf course here at Slapy. The large-format black and rust-coloured sculptures by Antonín Kašpar are accompanied by tender orange male and female figures created by the sculptor and creative artist Veronika Oleríny. Your impressions from the game and from your surroundings will completely change, especially near the 18th tee. The installation called “Poupata”, or Flower-buds in English, will surely boost your courage and motivation to complete the Slapy course!

 

The whole exhibition, which will be installed not only in certain parts of the course, but also in all available indoor spaces, is called “Spring Meadow”. Indeed, June is still a spring month, at least according to the astronomical calendar! Here at Slapy, however, we hope that the weather will be summery warm and that the visitors will enjoy the installations, which are also meant to be used! Some of the sculptures and installations serve both artistic and practical purposes. Especially the chamotte seats, chairs, and beds, artistically designed and rendered, will tempt the passers-by to rest for a moment and let their faces soak the tingling rays of the summer sun. The artist herself comments: “I think the name Spring Meadow fits nicely with golf. My sculptures called ‘Poupata’ go well with the theme – they represent women figures in huddled postures and are installed at various heights above the course. For indoor spaces, I prepared smaller sculptures to ensure that things are well-placed and the exhibition gives a compact impression in its contents as well as in its form. This is quite difficult for me, because I also have an exhibition running at the Bröhms gallery in Františkovy lázně. But I am still very much looking forward to my work at Slapy.”

 

If you met Veronika on the street, I bet you’d never guess that this tall, beautiful and delicate blonde is a sculptor who works with clay every day, producing large, above-lifesize installations. Indeed, Veronika Oleríny’s appearance is deceptive. She was born into a family of artists (her mother Renata Oleríny was likewise a sculptor). After finishing a secondary school of arts (with specialisation in designing toys), she studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, the field of monumental sculpture, under Prof. Jiří Bradáček and Doc. Jiří Kryštůfek. She started with smaller sculptures made of tin and bronze and also with portraits. Later she became interested in installations using a variety of materials, including large slides of reversal film. However, when she became acquainted with a special type of ceramics – chamotte – she fell in love with it. Today she works mainly with chamotte, which became the prominent feature in her line of work. You can see her handwriting in figurative art, in garden sculptures, and in usable sculptures.

 

Did your mother, who was also a sculptor, influence or inspire you with her work and to what extent?

I cannot say how much I was influenced by my mother’s work, we saw the world differently, but I can say she taught me a lot in terms of the craftsmanship and the short period when we worked together was very nice.

 

When you were a child, you spent a lot of time in her studio. What was it like?

My mother, but also my grandparents, have naturally led me to become an artist from very early on. My mother would give me art books, pencils and of course the clay to keep me busy. Modelling clay was very popular in the 1960s, so I started playing with it even before I went to school. It made no difference to me whether I was in the studio, in the workshop or at home.

 

In secondary school, you specialised in designing toys. I’d say some of that playfulness stayed with you, your sculptures are witty and, in today’s language, we could even call them partially interactive. What are your memories of your school years?

Well, the entrance exams to the Secondary School of Arts were the obvious and necessary first step. For 1970s, this school had an incredibly democratic approach to teaching, probably due to its excellent headmaster, sculptor Zdeněk Vodička. The four years there were wonderful. Of all the fields available, only two involved modelling, so choosing the field “toy design” was a no-brainer.

 

What were the pros and cons of studying at the school?

I wouldn’t say the school had any cons. Maybe from today’s perspective, there was not as much support for independent artistic development as I’d have liked. And the pros? It taught me craftsmanship and gave me a lot of wonderful experiences.

And the same goes to my college years at the Academy of Fine Arts. Even though I studied during the Communist era, those times at college were great.

 

Toys are usually small, but you then leaped right into the studio of monumental sculpture. What led you to such a change?

The field of “toy design” does not involve design and production of exclusively small things. We were designing larger marionettes, toy theatres, play sets for kindergartens... I was always very interested in the simple mechanics of wooden toys, when for example they walk and move their heads at the same time. The leap from larger toys and marionettes to sculptures is not so big. At the Academy of Fine Arts, we had to go through a two-year preparatory course, after which we could choose from two sculpture studios. I was lucky and managed to join the studio of monumental sculpture led by Prof. Jiří Bradáček.
It is sometimes said that it’s not the size what makes the sculpture monumental, but its execution. Prof. Karel Hladík claimed that any seed is a beautiful monumental sculpture, if enlarged to many times its natural size.

 

Where and when did you first run into chamotte, which captivated you so much that it became your material of choice? (I do not mean traditional clay which sculptors normally use in preparatory works.)

I first encountered chamotte when I was a child because my mother worked with it, but I later became fascinated with the special kind of chamotte used in Kladno steelworks. I became acquainted with it during my studies, but I never would have thought I’d use it so much in my future work. Until then I had worked with bronze, tin and plastics. But it is true that chamotte has since become my speciality. It is a specific type of ceramic clay, a very resistant natural material which behaves similarly to a hard rock in outdoor environments. I usually do human form sculptures. Besides off-hand sculpture ranging from small to monumental, it includes utility sculptures for use in gardens, such as chairs, tables, benches, barbecue stands, and so on. I also deal with furnishing whole gardens using original chamotte designs. It is a varied and quite beautiful work.”

Your work features predominantly male and female bodies in various postures and sets, if I may generalise. Where do you get your inspiration? Do you observe the world and people around you? When you see something interesting on TV or while travelling in a tram, do you say to yourself ‘well, this could be worth trying out’?

I’ve been fascinated by the human form since childhood. Dancing, gymnastics, nude photography, and animals as well, this was my world. I suffered through art classes at elementary school and almost stopped drawing and painting. As an adult, I naturally wanted to master anatomy during my studies to a degree that would allow me to achieve what I wanted. I was interested not only in appearance and expressions, but also in psychology, non-verbal expressions, human traits and relationships. I enjoy looking for things people want to keep secret but let out by acting in a certain way – these simple motivations for behaving, interpersonal relationships. The human energy and the erotic charge as its inseparable part. I cannot stop being amazed by the beautiful theatre that’s being performed all around us.

 

Do you dream of sculpture?

Not really, no, but when I am half asleep, I am good at solving problems concerning the technology of sculpture.

 

How do you attain different colours when using chamotte? Some of your sculptures are grey, some (or most) of them are typically chamotte-coloured, in different shades of orange.

The colour of chamotte ranges from shades of yellow to dark orange, almost red. I’d say you can influence it by about 50 %. When you fire at 1350 °C, many factors are at play. I don’t use ceramic colours, I mean glazes; I leave the chamotte surface the way it comes out of the furnace, or I treat it with porcelain engobe before firing to achieve a whitish tinge. Or I use a coating made of special “waste” from the steelworks to create a coarse black grid. Making any element or sculpture is preceded by preparing a concept, then a model and a mould. I work with my hands using the classic method: modelling, drying and finally firing in Mendheim chamber furnaces at the temperature of 1350 °C. In each instance, this gives rise to unique colouring, which in combination with clean shapes gives it an exclusive, yet natural feel, regardless of whether you place the sculpture in a cultivated garden or a wild one, on an English-style lawn or on uneven ground, on a terrace, winter garden or in a modern designer interior. Comfortable, warm and natural colouring of the materials will brighten up any environment. This is what I love about chamotte.

 

Does working with chamotte have any specific features which surprise you and which you perhaps enjoy?

The kind of chamotte I use has many specific features. It is a material which is very resistant to weather effects. Making a model is one thing, but translating it into sculpture made of the real material is a different thing altogether. In that case, the procedure includes many steps, which naturally also brings about certain risks. Deciding on how to approach the given sculpture, how to craft it, is an adventure and a challenge. I try to avoid thinking about this other stage when I am preparing a concept and making the model sculpture. Then it comes and sometimes I have to go through a few stressful moments.

 

The exhibition at Slapy golf course will show female figures. How were they made and how long did it take?

For the Slapy exhibition, I am preparing new sculptures in the “Poupata” series – female figures. They are connected with the older sculptures called “Poupátka” (Little Flower-buds), which will be displayed indoors. Sometimes I start with a new motif or a series and it takes years before I continue. The first models and concepts of “Poupata” were made already in 2013. I started making full-sized models last autumn and this year they will finally be made of the real material. It’s as if they were waiting for the possibility to be placed in an open space.

 

Besides the aforementioned “Poupátka”, Veronika Oleríny prepared drawings, concept art and working procedures captured in pictures for the indoor part of the exhibition. As she says herself, few people can fully imagine the procedures involved in creating a sculpture, so she believes the visiting golfers will find the exhibition not only interesting, but also educational.

 

What intrigues you about the space provided by the golf course? Is this exhibition special for you in some way?

A golf course and the spaces around have a special air about them. A few years ago I brought some of my works to a golf course to take photos of them. Since then I’ve known that golf spaces and sculptures go well together.

 

In 2013, you had a lovely exhibition in the Liblice chateau gardens. Are your male and female sculptures “happier” to be in a more open space, in the open air, with a broad view of the surrounding area, like here at Slapy, or do they “prefer” more secluded, overgrown areas of gardens and parks? 

In my 2013 exhibition in Liblice chateau gardens, I placed my sculptures alongside the park paths, as befits a baroque chateau park. Naturally, a golf course is more open and so the “flower-buds in the meadow” and other sculptures will be determined by this specific kind of open space.

 

What are your plans after the end of the exhibition at Slapy? And how do you relax?

What am I planning after the exhibition? Well, I plan more for what happens after its opening. I’ll take my dog and go home to South Bohemia to enjoy a few days of idleness. Still in June, I am participating in the 21st year of the “Vltavotýnské dvorky” exhibition. Then, I am going to create new sculptures, which I hope to display next May at the Town Gallery in Týn nad Vltavou as part of the “Jihočeská krajina” art exhibition.

 

 

What is chamotte?

CHAMOTTE is a heat- and cold-resistant, permeable, highly durable material with high load-bearing capacity. It is a mixture of shale, clay and grog. As a type of ceramic, it is very durable and can last for many centuries.J

 

 

VERONIKA OLERÍNY

Oleríny, Veronika

Born on 21 January 1960 in Prague
medal maker, sculptor

 

1975 – 1979    Secondary School of Arts in Prague, field of “toy design”

1979 – 1985    Academy of Fine Arts in Prague

field of sculpture, studied under Prof. Jiří Bradáček a Jiří Kryštůfek

Selected exhibitions:

1982-1986      Bratislava, Kladno, Coburg, Dreieich, Konstanz

1988                Poděbrady, Prague, Ingelheim, Berlin

1992                Prague, Brno, Kolín nad Rýnem

1994                London, Genoa, Poznań, Paris

1997                Prague, Mino (Japan)

1999                Prague, Cologne, Prachatice

2003                Prague, Český Krumlov, Landštejn

2010                Prague, Opava

2014                Prague, Týn nad Vltavou

Representation in collections:

Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Belgium, France, England, Japan

Commissions:

Kindergartens – Prague

Bulovka Hospital interior spaces – Prague

Interior and exterior spaces in SPS – Prague

Private gardens