Thursday, 10 November 2022

Internationale Kurzfilmtage in town!

Today marks a very exciting long weekend in the city. It’s time for Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur - Switzerland’s most significant short film festival.

Today is annual Swiss Film School Day, showcasing Switzerland’s five major undergraduate degree programmes. Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL), the Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD), the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), and the Lucerne School of Art and Design, Video and Animation, present a selection of their recent short films.

The jury of the Swiss Competition gives feedback to the students and awards the prize for the Best Swiss School Film.

Admission to the Swiss Film School Day is free – a great opportunity to get a first glimpse of Kurzfilmtage! 

Established in 1997, the festival takes place each year in November attracting thousands of film fans to the many and varied kinos in Wnti. The International and Swiss Competitions are at the heart of the festival and at the pulse of current filmmaking from around the world, offering awards with a total value over CHF 40,000!

Films of the "Kurzfilmtage" competitions can also even qualify for nomination consideration for the OSCAR®, the British Academy Film Award BAFTA, the Swiss Film Award Quartz, and the Zurich Film Award Cadrage.

The festival screens historic as well as contemporary films, with programmes that focus on social issues, give insight into institutions, or highlight the oeuvre of individual filmmakers and artists.

Locations taking part:

Thursday, 20 October 2022

Niki de Saint Phalle at Zürich Kunsthaus

I wasn’t going to be like you mother. You accepted what had been handed down to you by your parents, your religion, masculine and feminine roles, your ideas about society and security. I would spend my life questioning. I would fall in love with the question mark (…)’

I wasn’t familiar with the work of Niki de Saint Phalle before moving to Switzerland but I fell in love at first sight with L’Ange Protecteur, one of her gloriously over-sized and colourful Nanas watching over the multitude of travellers passing through Zürich HB every day.

And then the opportunity arose to find out more about this fascinating artist at the latest exhibition of her work at Zürich Kunsthaus as part of my birthday celebrations last month.

Niki was born in Paris in 1930 to a French father and an American mother but she mainly grew up in the US and was later granted Swiss citizenship (entitled to reside in Basel) as a result of her marriage to the Swiss sculptor Jean Tinguely in 1971. Like Tinguely (who's Heureka sculpture is situated in Zürichhorn Park) she was close to the family of the art patron and collector Theodor Ahrenberg who also lived in Switzerland.

Niki was sexually abused by her father as a child and she acknowledges that art became a kind of therapy for her. Indeed, the exhibition charts her journey through an extremely broad spectrum of work which is eccentric, extremely emotional and often very dark and brutal. You can feel her anger – at her father, her mother, politicians, heads of state, prejudice and the man’s world she lived in. It is in the large part, a world away from her cheerful ‘Nanas’ she later became famous for.

But Niki’s work is also humorous, challenging and always enigmatic. There is a whole series of wonderful illustrations about her life as a child and for a book about AIDS in the 80s. She recycles leftover materials to great effect in works such as Nightscape (1959) and there is a childlike joy in the simplicity of her oils such as The Ballet Class (1953-55) and Play with Me (1955)

I especially loved her 'shooting' paintings and fancied King Kong (1962/3) as a major political statement of the day, it reminded me of Picasso's Guernica. Altar of Women is powerful and I was enthralled with the children's playground pieces, heavily influenced by Gaudi. I especially loved the story about Keith Haring living in the middle of one of the playground pieces for a while (which doubled up as an apartment) because he loved it so much.

I imagine this is a good exhibition to take slightly older children to - although it was disappointing we couldn't enter Skull (meditation room) This really is an engaging and wonderful exhibition, which I can heartily recommend.

The exhibition runs until 8.1.2023. Tickets cost 23.-. Entry free for all under 16 years of age.

Altar of Women, 1964, mixed media

King Kong, 1962/3. mixed media

Skull (meditation room) 1990

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

The Winterthur Rundweg

The Winterthur Rundweg is a series of 10 hikes which take you all around the outskirts of Winterthur, in a big fascinating 70km circle. My tandem gesprach friend, Luzia, and I have decided to walk each stage while we chat, I need to learn German/Swissgerman and she wants to learn English and the Rundweg will provide the perfect backdrop for our intercultural Gesprach.

The Rundweg website is brilliant. It provides an interactive map for each stage, the length, an approximate time to walk the distance and shows the elevations of each walk. So today we tackled:

Etappe Hegiberg - 6.5km - 1.45

On the Rundweg website, this stage is described like this:

The boundaries between city and countryside are fluid: a second urban center with spacious green areas, such as the Eulachpark, is being created on the former Sulzer site in Oberwinterthur. In rural Tolhusen, eggs are sold at the vending machine and the secluded nature reserve ponds are disguised reservoirs.

We met up at the starting point at Hegi Bahnhof at 2pm. A little walk took us along the track before we could cross it with a neat tunnel underneath, beautifully painted with trees.

On the far side a wonderful little winding path beckoned us on, disappearing gently into the woods. This brought us to what looked a little like a hobbit house - it was actually some kind of well – and a stairway taking us to the Hegiberg woods above. The walk was beautifully scenic and peaceful, taking us past a very alien looking kiln. The charcoal kiln was set up in 2006 by the Läbesruum association and the Oberwinterthur timber corporation as a project for the unemployed. From 2015, the Köhlerverein Andelbach took it over to produce charcoal from local beech trees.

There were lots of cows dotted around and some goats regarded us cooley as we entered the tiny village of Tolhusen,. The weather was warm, with the odd, refreshing shower to cool us down. Perfect 'wandern^ weather really.

When we reached the endpoint at Tolhusen Bushaltestelle (in just under 2 hours) we were relieved to find we’d arrived 10 minutes before the next bus was due – in Tolhusen the bus usually only comes but once per hour…I did enjoy how our bus driver received a very friendly wave from everyone he saw. What a friendly place!

Toptip: think about arriving to coincide with a bus or you will have a long wait at the side of the road.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Zurich Film Festival: Stars line up for awards

Kingsley as Itzhak Stern in Schindler's List
Ben Kingsley and Liam Neeson will be joining Diane Kruger, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Eddie Redmayne for the up-and-coming 18th Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) at the end of September.

Kingsley will be honoured with the Golden Icon and providing an insight into the wonderful world of film and his incredible characters which range from Ghandi to Itzhak Stern in Schindler’s List, the psychotic Don Logan in Sexy Beast, and now Salvador Dali which will be premiering this month and at ZFF in Daliland.

Liam Neeson and Diane Kruger will be presenting their latest film Marlowe, a film noir thriller by Oscar winner Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) Kruger plays a femme fatale who hires a private detective, Philip Marlowe (Neeson) to shadow her ex-husband in 1930s Hollywood.

English film score composer Rachel Portman will also be honoured with a Career Achievement Award. Portman is the first female composer to win an Academy Award in the category of Best Original Score for Emma by Douglas McGrath starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor.  She was also the first female composer to win a Primetime Emmy Award, which she received for the film Bessie by Dee Rees. She has received two further Academy Nominations for The Cider House Rules and Chocolat by Lasse Hallström, which also earned her a Golden Globe Nomination as well as Bafta nominations for Oranges are not the only fruit and The Woman in Black.

Neesom as Oskar in Schindler's List

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Eddie Redmayne will receive a Golden Eye for their careers and the Green Carpet will also be rolled out for Swiss film. The programme includes 146 films from 49 countries and includes 49 debut works. A record 38 films will be screened as World or European premieres.

The 18th Zurich Film Festival takes place from September 22 until October 2, 2022.

Sunday, 3 July 2022

The magical world of the picture book at Gewerbemuseum

I know a lot about picture books. I loved them as a child, I have greatly enjoyed the pleasure of reading them with three of my own children, spanning at least 20 years, and I have recently completed a diploma in Book Illustration.

And we are all in great company – picture books have been around for more than 120 years – over a century of readers entranced by the colour, rhythm, journey of discovery and sheer magic of this genre of literature.

So I couldn’t wait to go along to the latest exhibition at the Gewerbemuseum Bilderbücher: illustriert & inszeniert (Picture books: illustrated & staged)

I love the Gewerbemuseum. It is light and airy and FUN! As I make my way up the stairs to Floor 1, halfway up, I am confronted by a wall of colours – well, the names of all the colours in black apart from Orange and Gelb, lit up as their colours. Informative and art, bundled together in a big ball of cheer, a theme that encompasses the entire outlook of the museum.

At the top of the stairs it all begins with a question:

‘Is there anything quite like a picture book?’

The exhibition goes on to celebrate that fact, by presenting wave on wave of splendid picture books to be picked up, absorbed and cherished while reclining in one of a multitude of two-seater seats provided especially for the exhibition.

It begins with four examples of contemporary books spread out along the corridor demonstrating the power of the picture – four wonderfully surprising and vibrant stories without words – Herr Grau und Frieda Fröhlich by Binette Schroeder (Zürich 2021) Krokodrillo by Giovanni Zoboli and Mariachiara Giorgo (Münster 2018) Kuchen für das Krokodill by Claudia Werth (Vienna 2021) and Das Rote Buch by Barbara Lehmann (Zürich 2021)

You can then head into a large room full of funky lamps, comfy chairs, bespoke tables…and BOOKS – books lying around everywhere, hanging from the ceiling, splayed out across the walls. Books that take you on a journey through a dazzling array of the Great and the Good going right back to Edward Lear in 1871.

I like to think of myself as a bit of a book connoisseur, but there were many new stories and authors for me to enjoy – highlights include the brush and pencil illustrations of Albertine an observer of people and surroundings, drawing anywhere, anytime and making sketches in notebooks, exploring new, ever evolving formats on different types of paper.  I love Les gratte ciel (2011), where she copys the image of the growing house from the previous page and pastes it in the next step in order to continue building on it, up and up until it reaches the sky and beyond!

Tangibility is key to this event – books everywhere to pick up and consume, a special interactive pop-up book section (who doesn’t love a pop-up book?) and the weird and wonderful world of the more grown up style of graphic fare – I couldn’t put down Treiben Lassen by Peter Van de Ende, a story charting a little paper boat’s adventures around a world of beautifully detailed and imaginative fantasy creatures enfolded in dreamy black and white.

There is so much more to enjoy and I don’t want to spoil all the surprises and pleasures that await visitors to this wonderful exhibition. Go check it out for yourself!

Exhibition runs until 23rd October. Price is 12CHF.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Eurovision shocker - the UK (almost) top of the charts!!

Tonight's Eurovision Song Contest surprised and delighted many fans as the UK came in second to Ukraine!!

After many years spent at the bottom of the leader board by the UK, Sam Ryder seemed to achieve an impossible feat, coming in second for his country with his soaring power ballad, Space Man. A former construction worker, he had been keenly favoured ahead of the competition with this song evoking the classic British pop of Queen and Elton John.

While Sam topped the jury vote, amassing 283 points, he was pipped at the post when public votes were added to the total.

Stefania by Kalush Orchestra rode a wave of public sympathy to claim Ukraine’s third Eurovision victory. Their victory reflects a symbolic show of public support following the country's invasion by Russia. They ended their performance in Turin with a plea: "Please help Ukraine, help Mariupol, help Azovstal right now." The rap-folk band, who were given special permission to leave the war-torn country, soared to first place with 631 points.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Bilderbücher Austellung im Gewerbemuseum

Gewerbemuseum Winterthur will be launching its exhibition all about picture books at the weekend.

@Anete Melece: Der Kiosk
Sunday (6th) will see the opening of the exhibition Bilderbücher: illustriert & inszeniert exploring the types of visual narrative found in contemporary picture books with particular attention to the immediacy and delight they bring to young children. 

The event aims to bring stories vividly to life while investigating the creative process of picture book production. From jaunty colours to minimalist grey tones, from polished digital images to rough sketches, and from unusual pop-up formats to pages featuring cut-outs, the design possibilities seem endless. The show features well known picture book greats such as Eric Carle, Julia Donaldson, & Alex Schiffler, Oliver Jeffers, it will also visit the studios of Swiss illustrators, such as Winti based Daniel Bosshart and takes a look over their shoulders at live events.

Exhibition runs until 23.10.2022. Guest curator for the event is Hans ten Doornkaat.