Whilst attending the Glasfachschule Zwiesel for my Glasveredler Meisterkurs (master course as cold worker), I lived in Frauenau, a town a few minutes East of Zwiesel.
Frauenau is also the hometown of Erwin Eisch, one of the founding members of Studio Glass in Europe.
I frequented the Glasmuseum Frauenau, a world class museum filled with much regional history as well as modern and contemporary glass. Ambling through the museum’s comprehensive studio- and contemporary glass collection, filled with examples from all over the world, I discovered several kick-ass female artist’s works too!
I loved Jack in the Box by Debra Czeresko and another favourite was Tobby Ritzkowski’s “Eine Blunsn zum aufreißen, die sich aber nicht aufreißen lässt”, a carved masterpiece!!
The Venini exhibition had a special focus dedicated to Tyra Lundgren (1897-1979), a Swedish designer working closely with the Paolo Venini. Her charming bird and fish forms, as well as leaf-shaped bowls and vases, are timeless, skilfully made and intriguing.
I am delighted to announce that one of my works, Skull – Lion, is now part of the Glasmuseum Frauenau’s contemporary glass collection
When visiting the Museum do not forget the “Bixl” collection upstairs. This is the largest collection of “Schnupftabakgläser” (snuff tobacco glasses) worldwide belonging to the Schäfer Stifftung. Snuff tobacco and the blown bottle-shape of the Bixl is an integral part of history and culture in the Bayrischer Wald.
Bildwerk Frauenau, established in 1987, is a “regional and international forum for glass and visual arts, a stage for music and culture, and a place for border-crossing encounters, in the glassmaking village Frauenau in Bavaria, Germany.”
They offer a Summer Academy as well as other courses and workshop throughout the year. The studio can also be rented by artists.
Some Fridays, after class, I went down to the Bildwerk hot shop, to watching Thorsten Rötzsch skilfully work with the Glass Works scholarship group. Glass Works is an intensive six month artistic startup training program for students, emerging artists and designers in glass who reside in Germany, Denmark and Czech Republic. This progressive initiative, laying foundations for the future of glass art and design, is in part funded by the EU program Creative Europe Culture.
Frauenau is an amazing town, steeped in glass history and playing a pivotal part for our glass future. Frauenau is also situated in the National Park Bayrischer Wald, a transboundary park between Germany and the Czech Republic. Countless hiking trails leading from town to town weave through woods, across rivers and over mountains.
When the weather was good I packed my bag and put on my walking shoes. My first hike was up the Großer Rachel – the tallest mountain within the Bayerischer Wald Reserve – from Klingenbrunn-Bahnhof. It started off easy but I soon realised this is going to be an epic climb to the top. Just before the summit the dense woods open up, revealing a magnificent panoramic view of the entire region as well as the grey totems of a dead forest.
These trees were left to the nature after a regional bark beetle infestation took hold in the mid 90’s. This decision, leaving the forest to natural cycles – without chopping or removing any dead wood – is showing a healthy regeneration of mixed woods and fauna resettling the area.
I also made it up the Lusen, with its “Blockmeer” tip, a one of a kind “shattered” stone summit which occurred through weathering during the last Ice Age. From these lichen covered boulders and detritus I ascended on the North face and wandered back along the German-Czech border.
After a long hike I would pop in at the Gistl in the evenings, a historic bar for the glass makers in town and region, offering a large selection of local beers from the “Woid” (Wald or Forrest) and kick ass live acts on weekends.
The building houses a large theatre,(being considered as a national heritage site with talks for renovation) which used to be the cultural hub of the region. Be sure to check out their lineup!!
After almost twelve weeks in Frauenau, and completing my practical trade course as master glass cutter / cold worker, it was time to head back to South Africa, back home. I hope to see the friends I made in the Bayrischer Wald soon again…
Things have changed so much in the past three months with the global outbreak of Covid-19. My friends and all the people of this beautiful region in Germany are in my thoughts. May you be safe and strong!!