One of the optional tours was a visit to a Slovakian home in Bratislava. This was more my kind of thing than Howard's so he opted to stay behind and I went with the bus.
One of the guides was wearing this fabulous dress. It was simple, made of linen, with the balancing aspects of the painting and gathered circle. She laughed when I asked for pictures of her dress.
Along the route, we passed fields and fields of sunflowers. They weren't very high yet but still standing up proudly. Sunflower oil is primarily used as olives and olive oil need to be imported.
Our host was Ana - above left - lives here with her husband. Her sister - above right - lives down the road and came to help. There were about twelve in our group. We were able to ask questions through an interpreter who then interpreted the answer. Some of our conversation was about life before and during communistic rule and other parts were about life now. Slovakia is a very young country within a continent of old countries. Although Europe is vastly different from Canada, the fine details of living as a family were very similar.
At left is half of her living room and at right one end of the kitchen. The main part of the house is about average size for the area but there was a substantial addition built for her parents and father-in-law who have since passed away. The space has been turned into a studio because...
... although they have other jobs now, both Ana and her husband are artists. That was a delightful bonus that I didn't know about when I signed up for the tour. In the living room, she gave us a demonstration of painting eggs using melted crayons. The paint is mixed with a powder that makes it opaque so it'll show up on the egg.
At the entrance to the ceramic studio, is a display of plates and pots showing the different painting patterns and there were ceramic ornaments in the trees.
Ana showed us how she paints plates. They spin on the wheel in front of her and she touches down with the paint brush drawing a clean line all the way around. Marks are made with a pencil and layers and details built up.
Her studio would be the envy of many of us. It's the size of a small house with a washroom, running water, large windows, a loft, a delightful view of the garden, and lots of working and storage space. I could happily create there. Through gestures and broken conversation we found out that we are similar in age and place in life and we both feel lucky to be able to work as artists. She seemed delighted to meet another artist and really liked what I was wearing. I bought a lovely turquoise pair of ceramic earrings from her that will go with many of my outfits.
For twenty-five years Ana worked as a full time artist. She has four children and they and her parents - when they were alive - all helped out with the yard. Now, with less people, it's too much work for her and her husband since they are both also working outside the home. That's a familiar story for many of us. Even so, their yard was delightful with many sitting spaces and flower pots throughout and a pond at the back.
Ana's home was lovely and I was so thrilled to be able to visit with her and her sister and meet "real" people in their everyday life. Everywhere else we are surrounded by tourists so this was a special treat and - as I said earlier - a real bonus that she was also an artist. It would have been delightful if the two of us and the interpreter could have sat and talked art but of course,we had to get back to the bus.
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - a home visit with an artist