Text and photo: Marietta Kobald, luaga.ch
Right next to the Post-Chäller Museum in St. Antönien is the studio of Monika Flütsch. The filigree works, the precision and the incredible creativity will inspire you.
Mid-season. In St. Antönien there are only two hikers, but several craftsmen and building experts. The quiet time is used in a tourist resort like St. Antönien to do necessary renovation work. Work is also being done in the former post office in the center of the village. Monika Flütsch kneels in the large room, her glasses pushed to the tip of her nose, and looks skeptically over the border at the drawings that lie before her and take up half the room. The sketches and, in some cases, finished, feather-light silhouettes show the many activities involved in alpine life and will soon adorn a much-visited alpine hut in Davos. But until then, there is still a lot to do for Monika. Not only does she have to create everything with the cutter, the knife and the scissors, the filigree work also has to be put on a large wooden board and should finally even withstand the sometimes nasty mountain weather.
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"I always wanted to attend arts and crafts school," says Monika. But letting her daughter go to Zurich all by herself at the age of 16 didn't suit her mother at all, so Monika stayed in her hometown of Klosters and attended the commercial school in Davos, which she graduated from in 1978 with a commercial diploma. "But I quickly gave up the profession I had learned and left with my ski instructor's diploma in my pocket," she says, looking back. For three years she was a ski instructor without interruption. How does that work? "Well, in winter in Klosters and in summer in New Zealand and Australia," she explains, brushing her dark brown hair out of her face and saying with a laugh "i bin än biz umerghüeneret!" Today, she has strong roots here in St. Atönien and describes her family as her biggest project. Her family, that is husband Jann, who is involved in the cultural group and runs a tile-laying business, and the grown-up and independent children Stefanie, Nicole and Cornel. Here she likes the barrenness, the roughness of the mountains, prefers to walk daily to the heights, on "ds Chrüz" or the Eggberg, instead of surrounding herself with many people. A little bit like an ibex. "Luaga", observing, that's what she likes to do, just for herself, without distractions, alone in nature. "That's how I come to rest, get new ideas."
Traditionally, silhouettes often feature alpine elevators. "This is not my style". And yet Monika became known with a cow, with "derä narrä Chuä", as she says herself. She simply designed her cow a little differently; makes it dance, laughing, with oversized plumage, standing on its hind legs. The cow means soil, earth, Switzerland to her, says Monika. But she is not completely satisfied, despite the success. She thinks that this cow hinders her somewhat in her development, because everyone wants "only this cow". Now an astonishing statement comes from the lips of the artist, who prefers to call herself an artisan: "Silhouette cutting is hard work, anyone can do it". Because the technique of cutting with knife and scissors can be learned easily. The main work, however, Monika emphasizes, lies in the idea, the design and the final drawing.
Monika came to paper cutting through her mother. She organized silhouette courses with Susanne Schläpfer at the "Wärchstube" in Klosters. If she had too few participants, Monika joined her as a "stopgap". After the first course, that was in 1993, the instructor told Monika that she would enter her in the Swiss Silhouette Exhibition. Monika was allowed to present three works at the exhibition in 1995. From then on she belonged to it, could show her special works in group exhibitions cantonally, nationally and even through Pro Helvetia in China. Two years later she joined the Präkuscha, the association of Prättigau artists. Monika finds the contact with these artists, the joint exhibitions, very stimulating. "It gives me completely different, new ideas." So she sometimes draws her works on canvas, or tries her hand at the abstract branches of a tree.
"Jöö, how sweet," is a much-heard saying when someone looks at a traditional silhouette in detail. For Monika, however, the priority is the first look at the graphic work, the whole and only then the details. One of her specialties are the carved out shapes and shadows, which on closer inspection turn out to be arrangements of edelweiss. She used to make her filigree works in the living room, never did her children destroy anything, at most dropping the remark at lunch, "Mom, now there are already silhouette snippets in the soup!" For the past three years, her commute has lengthened, to twenty steps, to the former post office just across the street from her home. The light conditions in the room are very good and, moreover, the former post office counter has an ideal height to work on it with knife and scissors, on a sledding cow or a curious looking ibex. Have you become interested in silhouettes or do you intend to visit St. Antönien soon? Then take a look at the St. Antönier museum of local history. Monika will open the door for you if you knock, because the Postchäller Museum is adjacent to her studio.
All things paper
The technique of silhouette originates from China and has a history of well over 1000 years. In Central Europe, it first appeared at the beginning of the 17th century. The term silhouette is still associated with tradition and the ideal world. But established "paper cutters" have proven that their art stands comparison with any other art form. "The" paper cut does not exist. The variety reaches from the alpine procession to the genre picture, from the art nouveau leanings to the caricature. In terms of design, too, the symmetrical, orderly folding cut is not the only way to go. Some artists work with perspective, others mainly with black and white effects. Even the tool that gives art its name is not simply a pair of scissors. Just as the painter uses different brushes, the tailor uses different scissors and knives, which is why many call themselves paper cutters rather than scissor cutters, and consequently their works paper cuts.
More info: scherenschnitte.ch