Superstition & Art making

Today I came across this fabulous picture by Bobbie Dunn-Komarek from the Magic Monkey Media. This protective eye is watching over the firing process in the kiln of the International Ceramics Studios in Hungary. The studios bring over professionals from around the world to improve practice and do research. I find this little sign of superstition quite cute. It is yet another proof, that although we are firmly “down to Earth”, a little superstition still has place in our lives. I’m sure that the artists in the studios are experienced ceramicists but as soon as they hand their clay work over to the kiln, anything can happen, so a little watchful eye surely doesn’t hurt.

To find out more about Bobbie and her photographs, click here and the fabulous website of the ceramic studios is here. The place looks quite magical…

Do you have any rituals or amulets in your artistic practice? I would love to hear about them…

Bobbie Eye on kiln

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Today’s catch

Since working on the Luck Project, I use every opportunity to ask people about their everyday superstitions and personal talismans. These mini talks are very interesting. Today I was taking part in a job interview and I was lucky to hear another mini story.

An experienced tour-guide showed me his personal token. He got it from a Texan tourist on a guided tour of a German castle. Although he claims that he does not believe in it, that he just finds it comforting to have it, he did bring it to the interview. Or did he just “forget” it in his pocket??? 😉

Do YOU “forget” objects of personal significance in your pockets sometimes? Do you bring anything (secretly of course) to your job interviews or exams? I am trying to compile a mini “atlas” of  significant objects/talismans/luck-bringers. Some of them are already featured here. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR ABOUT YOURS!

Philip from Neunschwanstein - Kopie

Our charmed modern life

Do YOU have an amulet, talisman or any kind of object you are emotionally attached to?

My experience so far is, that people are very quick to claim that “they are not superstitious!”. They might be right, however, many of these very same respondents produce (after short consideration) an item with a very strong personal significance. We might or we might not call it amulet but we can certainly think about our reasons for keeping these objects and their meaning.

As part of my art project, I have been collecting photos of personal “amulets”. You can see a small selection of them here but today I have discovered this sweet little film that also explores this theme.

Charmed life in contemporary London – Wellcome Collection.

If you happen to own a similar item of significance, please get in touch. I would be very happy to hear about it.

The sensation of touch

“Do not touch the artwork!” How many times did you hear this sentence? Well, I worked in a museum for a long time, so I am pretty familiar with it but I also know, how fantastic it is when we can touch it! As part of the conservation maintenance, we were occassionally obligated to “dust” some very famous sculptures (wearing white gloves and being extremely careful) but still. I did touch Roden or Matisse and will never forget that! This experience is however rare and most of us can “touch” only outside the museum. The funny thing is, that we seem to love it. Since I started working on the Luck Project, I pay much more attention to what is going on around public sculptures. What I’ve notice (and recorded) is rather entertaining.

The sculptures seem to have an enormous  appeal and most people cannot resist at least a fleeting stroke. When it is physically possible, most people also enjoy climbing on the sculpture or posing with it – hugging it, replicating it’s gestures and so on. What is it that makes us do these things? Most of the sculptures in question are made of bronz as they are meant to last in all weather conditions. The sensation of the cold smooth bronz is simply very pleasant. The problem is, that the repeated touching and rubbing is actually harming the artwork. The metal simply “disappears” under our hands, so we should not do it, but the question is, who can resist?

This is the result of excessive touching…

The angel head (railing of St. Bartholomew cathedral in Pilzen)

The angel head (railing of St. Bartholomew cathedral in Pilzen)

When it comes to touching sculptures that are meant to bring luck, our behaviour becomes even more elaborate. We are willing to queue for our “lucky touch” and some of these sculptures even come with internet  instructions “how to touch” them.

So, what is your experience with touching? Do you touch sculptures? Have you got any good pictures? Please let me know. Comment above or send me an e-mail.

Exporting Luck

Did you know that it is possible to export luck? Well, believe or not, the Czech cultural minister did just that. During the Expo in Shanghai in 2010, the Czech Republic exhibited LUCK – more precisely, the “provider” of luck, the relief of St. John of Nepomuk. It is one of the most famous sculptures in Europe for bringing luck or granting wishes when touched. The exported relief is normally a permanent part of a bigger sculptural complex on the Charles Bridge in Prague. For the duration of the Expo, was it simply detached and replaced with a copy. According to the Czech press, was the Expo exhibit a success, visited and touched by thousands of visitors.

The moment when the relief has been taken off…

Sundavani nepomuka

Funny enough, not even this relief is the original! The one made by Jan Brokof (1683)  is actually safely stored in the museum of Charles Bridge. If you go to see it, you will notice, that the little head of the poor Nepomuk is not as smoothed as the one that currently resides on the bridge.

Can you guess which of these spent more time on the bridge?

Do you believe that these public “luck bringers” work even if they are removed from their original location? It is usually the power of the legend that makes people believe (even halfheartedly), that it might work. But the legends are usually connected with the place as a well as with the object. At least the one about St. John of Nepomuk is. It has been said, that the poor John – the confessor of the queen Zofie – was punished for his refusal to reveal the contents of the queen’s confessions to the King Wenceslas IV.  For his insolence, he was thrown into the river from the Charles Bridge. The legend has it, that the actual spot on the bridge has been marked with a double cross in the bridge side. The historical truth lies somewhere else. It is more likely that John’s unclear dealings between two enemies (the king and the bishop) brought him eventually the highest punishment.

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In theory, if the potentially innocent confessor John really has the powers to bring luck, we should only touch the cross in the  side of the bridge, right? We used to touch it (more than 20 years ago). Back then, there was no “floating” John relief above it, nor was  there the legend about touching the relief on the big Nepomuk sculpture. But that is something, what the Czech cultural minister did not bother investigating.

IMG_3868

So, is it possible to export Luck???  What do you think?

When was the last time you made a wish?

I bet we all make wishes when we see a shooting star. Or am I wrong? Are you just saying that you are not superstitious???

Well, while working on my Luck (art) Project, I have encountered many people who first claimed not to be and then, after short consideration, produced a surprising luck-bringer or talisman from their bag or wallet. I also observed the most entertaining behaviour around sculptures, that according to legends, bring luck. So I do believe, that most of us has at least an ambivalent relationship with our superstitious thoughts. One of my friends summed it up when she said, that we actually touch the “lucky sculpture” just-in-case, meaning we do not really believe in it but… Just in case we would be unlucky if we didn’t? I find this behaviour fascinating and therefore I am working on an art project inspired by this desire to be lucky and able to make a wish and hope that it might come true.

This is my first post on this blog and the first step to create the “lucky community”. No, I am not esoteric. I am pretty down-to-Earth person but I do make wishes and touch sculptures and believe that it is a rather comforting act that doesn’t hurt anyone. I also believe that if you’d have found a little object – by chance – that is meant to bring luck, it could have made you happy. At least for a couple of minutes and that is already enough to justify my efforts on this project (LOOK for LUCK tab).

To see some of the luck-bringers I collected so far, click on the LUCKY OBJECTS tab, or if you would like to see my Luck Travel Guide, click on the LUCKY PLACES tab.

Would you like to take part in my project? Follow my blog, comment below or send me an e-mail.

What is your little act of superstition?