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- Author Jan Mosz
- Date of production 1910
- Dimensions height: 18 cm, length: 28 cm, width: 18 cm
- ID no. S/1258/MT
- Object copyright The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopane
- Digital images copyright public domain
- Digitalisation RDW MIC, Małopolska's Virtual Museums project
We buy, receive and collect... items of everyday use – the faithful companions of our reality. We try to surround ourselves with those objects that make us happy, those which make our hearts beat faster, and those to which we feel sympathy at first sight.more
Daily life companions
We buy, receive and collect... items of everyday use – the faithful companions of our reality. We try to surround ourselves with those objects that make us happy, those which make our hearts beat faster, and those to which we feel sympathy at first sight. After all, the space that surrounds us is important. We run away from "ordinariness" and "mediocrity". We always try to decorate this space. This was also the case in the past. In England, in the 2nd half of the 19th century, artists who disliked mass-production and machine-made products launched the Arts and Crafts Movement. They wanted to revive what was beautiful and noble in functional objects. The initiative drew a positive response throughout contemporary Europe, including in Poland.
In 1886, Stanisław Witkiewicz, a painter, critic and theoretician of art, came to Zakopane. After four years, he settled in a small village at the foot of the Tatra Mountains and gave rise to a new style in architecture. Inspired by folklore and the art of Podhale, he created the Zakopane style, which referred not only to architecture, but also to furnishings of new houses. Like the mentioned English movement for revival of arts and crafts, the Zakopane Style was a comprehensive project, covering every detail of the work in the making. Witkiewicz wanted his ideas and concepts to spread throughout Poland, which at that time remained under the authority of the invaders. The new style, called the Zakopane style, also was to become the first Polish national style, which was not only to delight the eye, but also to sustain the national consciousness. These new guidelines were implemented with various outcomes. However, some artists became interested in the project of Witkiewicz and tried to create new works in this spirit. Such works included e.g. a casket – sąsieczek and a clock in the form of a highland cottage made by Jan Mosz in the 1st decade of the 20th century. Witkiewicz believed that the folk art of Podhale was an abundant source of inspiration for designers. He did not mean, of course, copying existing designs blindly, but thought about a creative approach to what could be found in highland cottages. A whole range of objects that "today's people cannot do without" must have been invented by those taking up the challenge of the Zakopane style. These objects included a casket for valuable trinkets and a small clock on a desk or table. Their forms actually derived from the repertoire of folk forms.
The form of the container for valuables was derived from sąsiek – an object which was present in almost every highland cottage. Sąsiek was a chest of typical carpentry construction, resembling pillar trusses used in wooden architecture. The basic structural elements were four massive pillars constituting legs and vertical edges of the chest. In the pillars, two thick slats were tucked with a number of vertical woodblocks planted between them, which resembled shingles with their shape and joining method. The chest lid was flat. It was made of hard, durable wood, which was joined with the use of wooden pegs. They were used to store various items in the chamber, including grain. In smaller and more decorative ones, "blessed herbs" could be found. In the case of the casket, its creator applied such an object typically used for storage merely by reducing its size. He also took another material – steel. Sąsieczek (little sąsiek) metamorphosed from of a heavy, massive chest into a stylish and chic container for jewellery.
The entire highland cottage of log construction, with a gablet, shingled roof, decorated with coping in the form of a pazdur (vertical decorative element) was an inspiration for the clock. The dial is on the door enclosed with a rich door frame studded with pegs. The mechanism is hidden inside. Just like at home, the heart beats within it. Such a form is a kind of advertisement of Podhale architecture. When looking at the metal miniature, we can recall wooden originals from Tatra villages. It happens whenever we turn our eyes towards the dial to check the time. It is said that architecture is an art that is closest to people. Undoubtedly, items of everyday use are even closer to them. These inconspicuous companions of everyday life are witnesses of our every move, our joys and sorrows. We move among them, briefly touch them and look at them, sometimes even without noticing them; and yet we know their shapes and all their ornaments by heart. And they are not without significance to us. We have our favourite cups, spoons and vases. We choose carefully a friend that will measure our hours. No wonder that after some years even everyday objects find a safe haven in museum exhibitions. When watching them, we should not forget about those whom they kept company...
Elaborated by Julita Dembowska (The Dr. Tytus Chałubiński Tatra Museum in Zakopanem), © all rights reserved