Houses of Arts - the role of the traditional handcraft
The first houses were built in the middle of the 50s, which were intellectual communities with special atmosphere, created by artists. Just have a look at Budapest, Szigliget, Balatonföldvár, Pécs, Hódmezővásárhely, Kecskemét, Zsennye or Békés – from literature through handcraft, furniture painter, glass engraver and musician groups to fashion designers, the scale is really wide.
But still, let's continue with the traditions and have a look in the life of a creative house. The House of Handcraft is the only artist place in Hungary which is open the whole year for the public. The house is located on the lakeside of Gébárt in Zalaegerszeg and since 2011 it is the centre of the National Association of the Folk Handcraft Art Houses as well.
Mrs. Gyöngyi Tirner Prok, the professional leader of the House of Handcraft explained us that this creative house, like many other, is continuously working on the preservation, renewal and improvement of the traditional skills in folk art and handcraft. The national association is trying to bring all the open galleries and open creative houses together which are dealing with traditional handcraft.
The creative workhouse organizes programs the whole year. During winter they have open gallery days, handcraft workshops, playschools; during summer there are specialized camps like wood carving, lace-work, pottery and yurt camp.
Through Society of Folk Art in the Parish of Zala, the creative house has international relationships with Croatia and Slovenia, so in the last years there were many international programs organized in the house. Furthermore, since 1992 the art house has a camp for Hungarian teachers from neighborhood countries where the Hungarian speaker teachers can learn different activities. Sometimes even foreign tourists find themselves in the house since the smithy, the pottery, the fiber and the joinery offers much curiosity.
For 2014, they also plan a national event. On the First Weekend of Folk Handcraft Art Houses (4-6 April) there will be creative houses over the country open at the same time, waiting for the visitors with interesting programs. The event is under the patronage of János Halász Cultural Secretary.
According to the survey of the Folklore Association and the Society of Folk Art, over 4000 individual handcraft person and 402 civil organizations, houses, open galleries and special handcraft collections are operating today in Hungary. This suggests that in Hungary still many people are working on the preservation and transfer of the traditional folk art. The leader of the house in Gébárt gives a gloomier reality about other countries though.
In many European countries there are no traditions any more, but in Hungary a movement kept them continuously alive. Lots of money was spent abroad to reintroduce the traditional culture of some nations into everyday life.
At the end of our conversation Gyöngyi added – if Hungarians want to stand out in something, one option could be our traditional handcraft culture. However, it is necessary to involve the youth as well. The younger generation has a different point of view about the culture and they can be more creative in the renewal.