May 31, 2020

Anatoly Komlev, Дом украшен крышками для бутылок/House decorated with bottle caps

this picture and the next two
from regional journal

Shurala is a small community of some 450 inhabitants in the Sverdlovsk region in Russia, some 90 km north of Yekaterinburg and as the crow flies about 20 km from the village of Kunara, where Russia's most famous art environment is located, the decorated house of the blacksmith Sergey Kirillov.

The community of Shurala is not only known for the monumental church building in the center of the village, built in the early 1900s, a structure with five domes and a church tower. But the village also surprises visitors with no less than two houses with a colorfully decorated exterior, one created by Vladimir Serebryakov, the other by Anatoly Komlev, whose creation is reviewed in this post.

Life and work

Anatoly Stepanovich Komlev, born in 1949, became an employee of the Russian railways. In the late 1990s as a station worker he was transferred to O.p. 419, a stop near the community of Shurala on the rail link between Yekaterinburg and Anatol'skaya.

Aided by a neighbor, in a year's time he built his own home on the premises of the train stop.

At the suggestion of the neighbor's wife, Vera Zinovieva, in 2001 Komlev started decorating the house with colorful bottle caps. according to drawings for embroidery Vera had sketched on a wall.

It became a project that would keep Komlev active for about fifteen years. 

Almost all walls of the house and outbuildings have been decorated with often man-sized  colorful decorations made of bottle caps. There are various images of flowers, but also of a rooster, a dog, a lake with ducks....

Around 2016, when Komlev was in his late sixties, he decided to terminate the project.

* Article (September 2015) in regional journal, with more pictures

Anatoly Komlev
House decorated with bottle caps
at the premises of train stop O.p. 419
near Shurala, Sverdlovsk region, Russia
can be seen from the street

Vladimir Serebryakov, Дом украшен крышками для бутылок/House decorated with bottle caps

Serebryakov in the process of decorating the facade of his house (2017)
 pictures are screenprints from the video in the documentation

Shurala is a small community of some 450 inhabitants in the Sverdlovsk region in Russia, some 90 km north of Yekaterinburg and as the crow flies about 20 km from the village of Kunara, where Russia's most famous art environment is located, the decorated house of the blacksmith Sergey Kirillov.

The community of Shurala is not only known for the monumental church building in the center of the village, built in the early 1900s, a structure with five domes and a church tower. But the village also surprises visitors with no less than two houses with a colorfully decorated exterior, one made by Anatoly Komlev and another by Vladimir Serebryakov, whose creation is reviewed in this post.

Life and works

Born in 1959 Vladimir Nikolayevich Serebryakov in 2012, so when he was in his early fifties, began decorating the exterior of his house.

He had no training as an artist and he was not really involved in art either. The idea of decorating the house came spontaneously when he saw pictures of embroidery in a magazine of his daughter and thought that he could make something similar, using colored bottle caps.

The picture above shows that the colored bottle caps are attached to the wooden base with a nail.

Actually, these nails are the only material that comes at a cost. The caps are in principle available for free, but large numbers are required, about a thousand pieces per square meter of wall. 

Fortunately family members help collect them.

In an initial phase of the project, Serebryakov added creations which refer to Russian fairytale characters, as in above picture.

Then Serebryakow began working the fence next to the house. 

The picture above shows three of the around five somewhat more complex creations he added to the fence, a mysterious oriental princess on the left, an assembly of flowers in the middle and two swans on the right.

an image on the fence in detail

Later Serebryakov began decorating the front of the house, starting with the top part.

The first picture in this post shows how far decorating the front side had progressed in 2017.

The upper part is already finished. It includes a decorated roof molding.

And the triangular space below the molding has a scene with two large fish (dolphins?), an island with a palm tree and a cabin and two sailing boats on the water.

The picture below gives an impression of the decorated facade, with at the bottom images of two colorful waterfowl in a wetland environment

Around the end of 2018, Serebryakov considered his creative activity as complete.

* Article (September 2015) in regional journal, with a variety of pictures
* Website Uraloved has an article (2015) about Shurala village with two pictures of the site
* Video (July 2017, YouTube) by Настоящее Время, the part about the decorated house
starts at 8.27

Vladimir Serebryakov
House decorated with bottle caps
st. Sovetskaya 51
Shurala, Sverdlovsk region, Russia
can be seen from the street
the site is located along the same street as the Temple,
but more to the south

May 21, 2020

Nico Molenaar, Sigarenbandjeshuisje/Cigarbands House

a scene of Venice
this picture and the next three (2013) 
courtesy of Leslie Gardner (Flickr)

The above image of a gondola in Venice, which was created by adding the medallions of cigar bands to a panel, once was part of the attic of a house in the old center of the Dutch village of Volendam. In the 1950s the site became known as the Cigarband House.

 Life and works

This rather specific art environment was created by Nicolaas Molenaar (1894-1964). He was the middle child in a Volendam family and had three brothers and three sisters.

Growing up in a Catholic environment, after his primary education Nicolaas went to a monastery, where he stayed for many years until he left it in the early 1940s.

Martini Tower in the City of Groningen, Netherlands

Molenaar returned to live in Volendam and in June 1944 he married Grietje Tuyp (1896-1981), who was also a former monastic (she had joined the monastery after her fiance drowned while fishing at sea). Their marriage remained childless.

The couple lived in a house in the old center of the village, a neighborhood with narrow streets and rather haphazardly situated authentic houses, which is why it is also referred to as Doolhof  (Labyrinth).

Statue of Liberty, New York

To provide for income, Molenaar sold eels from home. 

As a hobby he collected cigar bands and in 1947 he came up with the idea to make decorations with these bands and to display these in the attic. Once started with this project, it became an activity that never left him and on which he worked with unbridled commitment. 

Molenaar cut off the ends of the cigar bands and glued the medallions on boards, arranging these into the representation he had in mind and in a pencil sketch already had prepared on the panel.

After a while the collection had grown to such an extent that it became known in the village and people wanted to come and see it. Molenaar thought that was fine, and the arrangement became that people were allowed to take a look in the attic if they also bought a portion of eel

The project was well received by the inhabitants of Volendam. In any case, this applied to the Volendam children, because in order to get enough material, Molenaar gave a few cents to a child who brought a box full of cigar bands.

map of the northern part of the Netherlands,
the white square (added by the editor of this post) 
indicates the location of Volendam

One of the decorations in the Cigarbands House is above map of the northern part of the Netherlands. It shows the large inlet of the North Sea on which Volendam is located.

In 1932 the Afsluitdijk was completed, an enclosure dam 32 km long and 90 meters wide (the not so easy to identify yellow line in above map). This had major consequences for Volendam, that traditionally had a lot of saltwater fishing. Postwar developments have also resulted in only a limited number of boats currently remaining from Volendam's once sizable fishing fleet.

Manneken Pis in Brussels and a scene of Venice
this picture and the next three (2009) 
courtesy of Allison (Flickr)

Molenaar's collection includes numerous images of historical buildings.

There are images of internationally known structures such as Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, the Tower of Pisa, the Big Ben in London, the Cathedral in Cologne, the Statue of Liberty in New York.

But he also depicted Dutch buildings such as windmills, the Water Tower in Sneek, the Martini tower in Groningen, the St Vincentius Church in Volendam and the Basilica of Saint Servatius in Maastricht.

Molenaar also looked into completely different themes, such as all Volendam football players who in 1959 for the first time promoted to the premier league, all provincial arms of the Netherlands, the Dutch royal family with (the current king) Willem Alexander as a baby on the arm of his father prince Claus, maps of the Netherlands, and Manneken Pis in Brussels.

There are also images as above and below with black outlined scenes, for which the ends of the cigar bands were used.

After Nico Molenaar died on May 13, 1964, the entire collection, meanwhile including some 7 million cigarbands, was taken over by a neighbour, Jan Sombroek, who installed the collection in his own house.

In the 1960s in Volendam the arrival of international tourists started to increase and Sombroek and his wife Jannig Karregat have done a lot to transform the collection into a tourist attraction.

They added informative panels decorated with cigarbands to the collection, and also ship models and items like the decorated table tops, vases, (gin) jars and plates, covered with cigarbands, as in below picture.

In December 1993, the Volendams Museum bought the collection.

To accommodate it, a wing has been added to the museum building. On May 11, 1994 the first pile was driven by Nico's brother Jaap Molenaar (1903-1995), who at the time was 90 years old.

Volunteers carefully refurbished the panels as necessary and on May 5, 1995 the new museum hall was officially opened.

In 2017 the museum submitted an application to register Cigarbands House in the Guiness book of records. In this context also a promotional film was made (see documentation)

* Website of the Volendams Museum
* Article (April 2019) on weblog I Becoming Dutch
* Article (June 2017) in regional journal Groot Waterland
* More pictures of the creations on Flickr, by Leslie Gardner and by Allisson
* Video on Instagram showing the decorated panels as exposed in the Volendams Museum
* Video Cigarbands Mosaic made in the 1950s by Nelleke de Wit (YouTube, undated, 1'24") showing Nico Molenaar at work

* Video (2013, YouTube, 3'31") by madeleinepa3cuz, showing the setup of the panels with cigarbands in the Volendams Museum

* Video of a film (2017) made by the Volendams Museum to promote Molenaar's creation as the world's only cigarband house

Nico Molenaar 
Cigarbands House
formerly situated in the attic of a private houses along
Dril, corner Oude Draaipad, Volendam, Netherlands
decorations currently exposed in
Volendams Museum
Zeestraat 41, 1131 ZD Volendam, Netherlands

former location of the Cigarband House

May 17, 2020

Margaret Seaman, Knitted and crocheted miniature scenes

a part of the Great Yarmouth seafront set of miniature scenes
this picture and the next three from the website BBC News

At first glance it is not so visible, but a closer look reveals that all parts of the above miniature scene  -the sky, the sun, the sea, the beach, the pier and the person on it, the beach chairs, the air mattress and the boat- are knitted or crocheted.

This scene is part of a four meter long set of miniature scenes, depicting the recreational facilities along the seafront promenade in Great Yarmouth, England, first exposed in February 2019.

Life an works

This set was created by Margaret Seaman when she was in her late eighties.

Born in April 1929, she married in the 1960s and worked with her husband Fred in his business supplying children's rides and amusements to tourist venues and attractions.

another part of the Great Yarmouth set 

After her husband died in February 2013, Mrs Seaman -who was now 82- went to live with her daughter Patricia Wilson in Great Yarmouth.

Following her daughter's advice she joined a knitting club, run by a local social center, that by selling the knitting also collects money for charity.

It might have been fifty years since Mrs Seaman last used knitting needles, but it soon turned out that knitting for her wasn't just a pastime, but rather a creative challenge. And then a creative challenge that was colored by the wish to raise money for charity.

That turned out to be a realistic enterprise when in late 2014 Mrs Seaman made a replica of her husband's koi pond in the garden of her former home and she by displaying this replica in various places managed to collect about £ 12.000.

one more part of the Great Yarmouth set  

The Great Yarmouth seaside set

The koi pond was still a relatively small project compared to a subsequent project that Mrs Seaman undertook. This became a replica of Great Yarmouth's Golden Mile (also Marine Parade), as it was in the 1970s, a beach side promenade with sea views and all kinds of entertainment and facilities for food and drink.

The replica would become 4 meters long. It includes a variety of scenes, some of which are shown in the images above. Where the koi pond project already took four months of work, the Great Yarmouth project has taken a year of work, and then it has to be noted that Mrs. Seaman is not afraid to spend twelve to fifteen hours a day on her hobby.

Characteristic of Mrs Seaman's work is that she tries to depict the buildings and other items as realistically and faithfully as possible. To this end, she consults photos in magazines and other publications.

the Great Yarmouth set displayed on four tables 
in Mrs Seaman's home 

The set was displayed at a craft exhibition in February 2019 in the Forum in Norwich, a community building with a variety of facilities for the public, such as a library, a tourist information center, facilities for (art) exhibitions, amateur theatrical performances, and so on. The exhibition yielded £ 13,000 for charity.

As the picture above shows, before it was exhibited in the Forum, the set could also be visited in Mrs Seaman's home. 

The Sandringham house project

In July 2019 Mrs Seaman started a new project, a replica of the Sandringham House. Located in the village of the same name, 60 km north west of Norwich. this estate is the favored holiday home of Queen Elizabeth II.

miniature replica of Sandringham House
picture from website JustGiving

The miniature version of this ages old royal estate that Mrs. Seaman worked on for six months,
 is 3 meters long and 2 meters wide.

In this replica Mrs Seaman once more ensures that the dimensions and color scheme of the building correspond as much as possible to reality.

The miniature scene also partly includes the landscaping that surrounds the property, with lawns, trees and a lake, all together a variety of miniature items, all added in knitted or crocheted form. 

this picture and the next one by Forum

The photo above shows in some detail how a tree with green leaves takes shape in a miniature wool version.

And the picture below shows Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip as they appear in the miniature version of their country house (Mrs. Seaman was assisted by a friend in the making of the depictions of persons).

The miniature version of Sandringham House has been exposed at the Forum in Norwich from February 8-23, 2020. It closed just one month before in the United Kingdom on March 23, 2020 the lockdown due to the Corona virus was effected.

The "Knittingale" Hospital

In the United Kingdom the coronavirus pandemic has sparked some specific private actions to raise money for the hospitals of the National Health Service.

Mrs. Seaman is participating by creating a new miniature scene, this time a model of what is called the Knittingale Hospital.

picture by ITV News Anglia

The photo shows a very early version of this miniature. It will include four wards and an x-ray department, but also a coffee corner and who knows what other items are being invented while working. The collected money, also welcome via website JustGiving, will be donated to three hospitals in the region.

The final creation will be presented in the Forum when it is reopened.

* Article (January 2015) in regional journal Great Yarmouth Mercury about the knitted pond
* Article (February 2019) on the website of BBC News about the Great Yarmouth set
* Article (January 2020) in regional journal Eastern Daily Press about the Sandringham House project
* Article (May 2020) on the website of ITV Report about raising money for the National Health Service.
* Video by ITV News (YouTube, February 2019, 1'39") with Margaret Seaman knitting the seaside of Great Yarmouth

* Video by Forum Norwich (YouTube, January 2020, 4'50") with Margaret Seaman knitting "Sandringham"

* Video by ITV News (YouTube, May 13, 2020, 2'28"), with Margaret Seaman knitting the "Knittingale Hospital")

Margaret Seaman
Knitted and crocheted miniature scenes
Great Yarmouth, county Norfolk, region East of England, England, UK
home address is private
miniature scenes can be seen on expositions

May 06, 2020

Emmanuel Cometto, Sculptures de bois flotté /Sculptures of driftwood

pictures (2018) courtesy of Dominique Clément
from his weblog Herault Insolite 

Mourèze is a small community of almost 200 inhabitants in the south of France, some 50 km west of Montpellier. It is known for the nearby nature reserve Cirque de Morèze. a mountainous area with high-rising rock formations.

And in the field of at environments the village is known for sculptures of driftwood, placed in public space.

Life and works

These creations were made by Emmanuel Cometto and were arranged in front of and in the vicinity of his home/studio Atmosterre, on the Place des Palabres.

Comettto was born in 1968 in the town of Thionville in the Moselle area, Northern France. Initially he had occupations in a technical sphere, such as joiner, construction worker or welder in the aviation industry. But from an early age he also was someone who could live in imaginary worlds and liked making drawings, ceramics or sculptures.

In 1995, meanwhile married, he moved with his wife and a daughter from Northern France to Corsica, where the family settled in  the small community of Lugo di Venaco in the center of the island. 

Venaco is not far from Corte, the former capital of the isle, where Thierry Léonelli has a well known pottery workshop. Soon Cometto got a regular job in this pottery, where he could further develop in the manufacture and glazing of ceramics.

In the summer of 2001 Cometto and his family (meanwhile also a son was born) moved to Mourèze, where Cometto installed his own home annex studio, named Atmosterre. 

From the moment he settled here, Cometto has developed into a versatile artist and carpenter of craft items.

He made remarkable technical devices (such as a shoe with a built-in radiator, a flying broom -long before Harry Potter- or a musical flying saucer), graphic work (such as business posters and illustrations for books), ceramics (such as plates and bowls, including special ones for a star restaurant in London) and wooden structures (such as large tree houses and wooden cabins, but also wooden composters, not only for household use, but also for installation in residential areas in the region, these marketed via Divesterram ). 

Creations from driftwood

A rather unique aspect of Cometto's creative activity is the collection of sculptures he made of driftwood, a way of working he started around 2015. and continued for a number of years.

He finds his material along riverbanks or on the beach along the Mediterranean and, as he says, he is ".... using it as it is, without sculpting or even cutting it ... I observe the shapes and colors and put together what goes well, a bit like a puzzle ... I harvest these woods that are precious to me in the lake or by the sea. The woods are all rounded and very solid, which gives sculptures (even large ones) the ability to stay outdoors".

These creative activities in arranging drift wood in such a way that more or less recognizable persons and animals emerge, have resulted in a large number of sculptures, small ones, but also large ones of some meters high. 

Visitors could see a guitar player, a mermaid from a chestnut root, a some meters high giraffe and all kinds of other larger and smaller animals, a little hunter from the cro-magnon era, a two meters high Masai man and woman, and so on. 

Cometto's studio, in the basement of the house, could not store such a large number, and so the sculptures found a place on the square near the house and probably in the adjacent streets.

Although the display of the sculptures in every respect resembles an art environment, it was probably not a conscious choice by Cometto to make such a spatial creation, but it rather was a practical necessity.

With regard to the qualification art environment, however, it should be noted that the sculptures are in principle intended for sale and so the collection may have a variable character in the event of items being sold.

All this makes no difference to the appreciation people who visit Morèze have for the creations; in general, they take great pleasure in viewing them.

* Emmanuel Commeto's website
* Commeto's account on Facebook
* Entry (June 2018) by Dominique Clément on his weblog Herault Insolite, with pictures
* Article (June 2005) by Fabienne Chetrit on her weblog
* Pictures on Picuki, herehere and here
* Entries on Crapahut weblog, here and here, with pictures

Emmanuel Cometto 
sculptures from driftwood around his studio Atmosterre
4 Place des Palabres
Mourèze, dept Hérault, region Occitanie, France
sculptures can be seen on the street

April 29, 2020

Felix Senden, Beeldentuin/Sculpture garden

screenprint from a video (2018) referred to in the article below

In the south of the Netherlands, between the cities of Maastricht and Heerlen, there is a lovely hilly area named Heuvelland Limburg (Hill Country Limburg) with a variety of small villages, where houses are often built in earlier style with stones from local quarries.

A video (2018) with scenes of three of these villages offers a surprise at the end (at 4.58): a sculpture garden visible from the road, as shown in the above screenprint

Life and works

This sculpture garden was created by self-taught artist Felix Senden (August 8, 1939 - March 20, 2020), who was born in Voerendaal, a municipality in the Heuvelland area.

In Voerendaal he would spend most of his life, grewing up. getting married in the 1960s and working for a company active in the processing of natural stone and the making of funerary monuments.

In 2002 Senden founded his own company Senden Natuursteen B.V., a company that not only makes grave monuments, but also processes all kinds of natural stone, such as marble, granite, limestone, travertine, quartzite and slate.

image via Streetview, showing the garden as it was in 2009

At some point in his later life, Senden must have had the idea to set up such a garden, but the internet has no data about its origins. The image above shows the site as it was in 2009, already partially furnished, but not yet as richly equipped with creations as currently (2020).

However, it has been noted that the processing of natural stone has always attracted Senden. It has been pointed out that it is his passion to make something beautiful from a raw product, working with great precision and love for the profession.

It is only a small step to pursue with the same passion a hobby that involves the transformation of stoneware into sculptures. So it may also be that Senden over time had already made so many sculptures that at some moment it became necessary to look for a place with enough space to install his then (and future) creative work.

view of (part of) the site in April 2020
this picture and the next four courtesy of Bastiaan van der Velden 

Whatever the case may be, at some moment a piece of land in the village of Craubeek, part of the municipality of Voerendaal, was taken into use as a garden to display the sculptures.

Some characteristics of the site

As the photos above show, the collection as it has grown over the years, has a predominantly classic, naturalistic appearance. Mostly placed on pedestals there is a large number of sculptures made in white stone, as in the pictures above.

Some of these are depictions of persons which evoke an association with grave decorations as used in earlier times. Other creations, such as the nudes in the collection would probably fit better in a a non-modernist art museum. 

Animal depictions also occur, as the above group of elephants shows. Elsewhere in the
garden there is a stork nest, in which two, almost lifelike, storks reside.

There is no photo available of these storks and this also applies to the Buddhas, owls, frogs,
a carousel of small horses and many other portrayals that are part of the collection.

The sculpture at top left resembles sculptures like those found on Easter Island, while the top right built structure evokes associations with the Borobudur temple complex.

A large bear on an even larger pedestal watches the environment.

And then, as in the photo below, at the end of an upward staircase, resting on another built structure, elevated above the garden and surrounded by trees, 
a sculpture of Holy Mary in a blue robe

picture courtesy of Gijs Verbruggen, from the Veldkruus website

Felix Senden's creation is fairly unknown in the Netherlands. I am not aware of any publication that discusses this art environment from a cultural or art-historical point of view.

The Veldkruus website includes a walk in Hill Country Limburg that leads past Senden's art environment. The site has a map that indicates its location in Craubeek
* Article (april 2020) on the weblog La Société Protectrice des Enfants Martyrs by Bastiaan David van der Velden
* Note (November 2014) and video (cannot be embedded here) on the website of Limburg 1
* Video (April 2018) by Harry Winthagen on YouTube showing three idyllic villages in the south of Limburg, with at the end (at 4.58) some scenes of Senden's sculpture garden in Craubeek

Felix Senden
Sculpture garden
at the junction of Penderskoolhofweg and Boschveldweg
Hamlet of Craubeek, Municipality of Voerendaal, Limburg, Netherlands 
can be seen from the road
streetview (2009)

April 21, 2020

Jan Korytkowski, Ogród z rzeźbami/Garden with sculptures

pictures (2018) courtesy of Eliza and Radoslav Labarzewski

Above sculpture of a girl with a big ball can be seen in the garden of a house in the small village of Zwierzno in northern Poland, about 90 km southwest of Gdansk.

Life and works

This sculpture was created by Jan Korytkowski (1915 - 2008), who was born in the more southern town of Ostrołęka, but spent most of his life in Zwierno, where he was the local blacksmith.

In the 1950s, as a self-taught artist, Korytkowski began making sculptures, depicting his characters rather realistically.

Being a blacksmith, he mainly worked with metal. The above sculpture of a farmer who is sowing, gives a good impression of this.

The sculpture of the girl with the ball, above, and the one of the boy,  below, although they at first sight seem to be made of wood or concrete, are also metal creations.

Korytkowski's greatest productivity occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. He not only made sculptures of persons, but also crosses, gates, an eagle with a lantern ...

Most of his creations are scattered around Zwierzno, located in churches and other more or less public places.

The collection that can still be seen today in the garden of the house, managed by a son of Korytkowski, includes only a small part of everything he created.

The garden also has one of Korytkowski's best known works, a sculpture that depicts Pope John Paul II, who cam from Poland and was pope from 1978 until his death in 2005. Born in 1920, the Pope still looks young on this sculpture that was made in 1979.

The internet has almost no information about Korytkowski. The only source is Labarzewski's page Znalezienie on Facebook. I would like to acknowledge that the above article is  based on this information
* And there is one site, an inventory of Polish houses from earlier times with a large hayloft, that has a photo of the sculpture of Pope John Paul II.

Jan Korytkowski
Sculpture garden
Zwierno, Poland
can be seen from the road