This is my second time travelling to the International Ceramics Studio in Kecsekemet. Two years ago the trip was a joint trip made up of UCLan ceramic students and members of Northern Pottery Association. This time it was made up with current pottery MA students and recent graduates in addition to our course leader, David Binns, and our technician, Geoff Wilcock. Thus, I had a fair idea of what awaited us during our two weeks in Hungary and expectations were high. Having returned back home I can only say that these were exceeded and we had a great time full of intense pottery making. Here I'm not even trying to attempt to record of all the different activities but limit myself to just a few relevant observations.
Needless to say, our trip wasn't limited to just making as we had a chance to see some of the sights of Budapest and Szeged. For me, seeing the use of the highly ornamented interiors of the churches such as the Matthias Church in Budapest and the Votive Church in Szeged was a real visual feast. The choice of colours with the clever lighting prevented them from feeling garish while being unapologetically ornamental. There will be a few patterns I'll pick up for my work from here.
But I also enjoyed seeing some of the folk art in the Bozsó Museum in Kecskemet was great. Again I was looking out for decorations and ornamentation. The ceramics didn't appeal to me as much as the painted furniture or embroidery did. I was very fortunate that I was part of the group that had a private view around the museum with an English speaking guide. That really helped to get a better understanding of the exhibits.
What I saw of Hungary reminded me a lot of some parts of Germany. Especially the sort of architectural detailing found on the often decaying Jugendstil and Biedermeier buildings which remind me of the neighbourhood I grew up in Hamburg, Germany. I just wish I had a better camera to capture these details.
In a way, most of the cultural heritage we saw was from the mid 19th century to early 20th century. Not much of the post WW2 period was featured except for as part of the poster exhibition we visited in the Móra Ferenc Museum in Szeged.
However, we also managed to representations of modern/contemporary art and design when visiting two exceptional exhibitions at the Műcsarnok Kunsthalle (=Palace of Art) in Budapest. The large Nine Ateliers exhibition showed works of nine contemporary Hungarian artist and involving nine curators. The intention of bringing work from the artists' studios 'into the open' in this exhibition was, according to the museum's website intended for "Artists emerging from their isolation are not only given the chance to meet the public but also to engage in a critical, ontological and philosophical dialogue with ‘other studios’, other artists with the same ambitions and dedication as their own." In a way this mirrors very much what our whole trip was about. We engaged with each other, left our isolation as makers behind by sharing our experiences and making practices.
The other exhibition here was an unexpected photographic treat by Sandro Miller: Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich | Homage to Photographic Masters in which the actor John Malkovich is photographed in reenactments of iconic photographs. This was a real postmodern treat for me as I had just watched the movie Being John Malkovich a couple of week previously. What appealed to me with this exhibition is the play with identity. The original photos are so iconic that they have become part of a cultural language. Because of our familiarity with these images the identity of the original subjects nearly becomes secondary to the image itself. So what happens if the subjects get exchang