6th Travelling Symposium in Bratislava
When I arrived in the rainy autumn Bratislava my head was still full of fresh memories from the 20th anniversary symposium in Turnov, where an international community met again in July. The program included an extensive retrospective of the best jewellery from the collection of pieces that have been made at this symposium since 1984, and it was enriched by a new addition, a jewellery collection which shares its mutual underlying assumption with the Turnov event. If ideas could be smelled, it would have reminded you of the Mediterranean. The jewellery has been created at the Pyrenees peninsula, in the beautiful corners of Spain and Portugal, where the first Travelling Symposiums were held. We started it all with Sonia Ruiz Arkaute, in 2003, in the Basque town of Vitoria/Gasteiz and continued along the lines of the time-proven Turnov recipe – get to know the place, have exhibitions, presentations, workshop work and shared dinners, where we enjoyed sea food and other delicatessen in a friendly atmosphere.
One of the aims of the Travelling Symposium is to monitor how is the genius loci reflected in visual artwork, and also to promote contemporary author jewellery. That is why we decided to travel from a place to place. The second of our beautiful meetings was held in Lisbon, in 2004. It was prepared by Manuel Vilhena, Xana Lisboa and Tony Rosário. The amiable city and the closeness of the ocean created an unforgettable backdrop for our symposiums. One of the participants, Ana Campos, decided to continue this tradition in cooperation with the Museum of Gold (Museu do Ouro) in the north Portugese town of Travassos, particularly with its director Manuel Sousa. It was all happening in a small enclave with thousands of years of tradition in filigrane jewellery, surrounded by white granite houses with characteristic chimneys and massive fireplaces. The surrounding forests were black after a wave of fires. Next came Menorca, Sonia Arkaute found an ally in an art school in the seaport town Máo in 2006, where the old traditions of the Mediterranean civilization has melted with Spanish culture and imprints left by the British imperial dominance.
For now the last Travelling Symposium happened in 2007 in the Catalan town Vilafranca del Penedés. Our partner here, the art school, had a characteristic name: Arsenal. It complied with the idea that there should always be an explosion of new ideas detonated by new friends, new places and freedom without the stereotypical rituals of everyday life. The jewellery symposium became a part of their Days of Culture taking over the streets with jazz and wine. How would Bratislava hold up in this competition? Bratislava, where I helped invite foreign artists and where I was bringing the results and works from our previous Travelling Symposiums to present our first collective exhibition. I thought about the Slovak metropolis when we could not find enough funding to organize our symposium in Valencia; there was an eminent threat that the annual Travelling Symposium tradition would have to come to an end. To be honest I could not think about anyone, apart from my friends from the S+M+L_XL studio at the Academy of fine Arts (Vysoká škola výtvarných umení), who would be not only willing, but also have enough energy to organize such an event in such a short time. Everyone who is partaking at the ambitions program of the studio - professor and current rector Karol Weisslechner, Bety K. Majerníková, Maja Nepšinská and Matúš Cepka – have already been my guests in Turnov and we have been cooperating for a long time.