Slovakia – The Christmas Mail 2022 

In 1999, Slovak Post launched the exceptional Christmas Mail project, which, over the years, has become an inseparable part of the Christmas period. Again in 2022 (for the twenty-fourth time) children can send letters or postcards to the Baby Jesus at the address “Ježiško 999 99”. Exactly ten years ago the management of Slovak Post decided to not only promote this unique project among children, but also among the general public through the issue of a postage stamp based on designs submitted by children. Since 2013, when the first postage stamp based on a child’s design was issued, tens of primary schools across Slovakia have participated in the Christmas Stamp competition and submissions from foreign children, for instance from Taiwan, that had been delivered by mail to the Baby Jesus were also accepted. 

Children from Komárno are the most frequent participants in the competition in the art designs for this stamp issue. The greatest success has been achieved by the young artists who attend an art class at the Rozmarínová Primary School in Komárno, led by Ing. Renáta Kubalová. Owing to her creativity and personal commitment the works of art created by children from her art class have become the Christmas postage stamp motif almost every year. Works are selected by a jury made up of members of the Postage Stamp Design Commission. They make their selection exclusively on the basis of artistic quality, not on the affiliation of children to any particular school. This is the main reason why the entire stamp issue for this year is made up of works by children from the Rozmarínová Primary School. 

The postage stamp is devoted to a drawing by Viktória Bubeníková that portrays Christmas carol singers, the motif of the FDC surcharge is a drawing of a Christmas town by Kristína Gubienová, and the motif of the FDC postmark is an angel by Nikolett Andrea Samai. The graphic designs of the winning designs were created by a graphic artist at Slovak Post, Adrian Ferda. 

Slovakia – The 150th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Eastern Slovak Museum in Košice

The origins of our 150-year-old cultural institution date back to the second half of the 19th century, when an enthusiasm and passion for science became reality. Dr. Imrich Henszlmann was the driving force behind the establishment of an institution which would preserve exhibits from the town of Košice and the surrounding area. On 10th August 1846, in Košice, he presented his request to the travelling conference of the Association of Hungarian Physicians and Nature Researchers. His high-minded intentions became reality in 1872, when, on the initiative and concerted effort of the Klimkovics brothers and Viktor Myszkovsky, the Upper Hungarian Museum Association (Hung.: Felsőmagyarországi múzeum egylet) was established in Košice. Its foundation meeting was held in Košice on 27th October 1872. The first seat of the Upper Hungarian Museum was the building of the former public house The Golden Star (U zlatej hviezdy). The first items acquired for the museum included gold, silver and copper coins, banknotes, watches, documents, maps, books, engravings, furniture, guild chests, porcelain, various bronze and earthenware vessels, statuettes, jewellery, swords, pistols, minerals, taxidermy mounts, etc. The association had its golden age in the first few years after its foundation. After two years the Upper Hungarian Museum Association boasted a cultural and natural heritage collection made up of an incredible 14,016 items. The list of the first donors to the museum mainly included eminent figures from society, the culturally conscious people of Košice, church dignitaries, as well as institutions and associations. Throughout its 150-year history the Eastern Slovak Museum has managed a collection of more than 500,000 items, delivered thousands of interesting exhibitions and events, and boasts a number of restored collections and also many satisfied visitors. Our museum has grown to beauty into the new era through its constant effort to pursue the high-minded ideas and legacy of its conscious and noble founders.

Slovakia – ART: Aleš Votava (1962 – 2001)

Aleš Votava was one of the last and most distinctive students of Ladislav Vychodil, the founder of the Bratislava scenography movement. Apart from his training, Votava was mainly influenced by the action scenography pursued by the previous generation. These influences left their own specific traces in his work and helped to define his unique style. Votava graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in the mid-1980s, at a time when the paradigm of classical scenography, which employed solid materials, was coming to an end. However, action scenography and deconstruction had also reached their limits on stage by that time. Black was the basis of Votava’s work. Like Vychodil, he considered the use of neutral colours to be the crucial aspect of a scene. Colours, that mainly came from the interplay of light and shadow, through reflection or transparent materials, was the principle behind the action in his scenography. He was considered to be a man of outstanding qualities, or even a Renaissance artist, whose versatility and abilities allowed him to create stage designs for various types of venues and he utilised the available material to the maximum. 

He also devoted his time to graphic design, free artistic creation and artistic jewellery. He made a significant contribution to the Prague event, the End of Violence organised on 26th November 1989 by the students of the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts, the Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design and the Academy of Fine Arts, all in Prague, along with the employees of Prague theatres, on Letná Plain. His drawings were always elaborated to the last detail and were full of descriptions so that he could approach the bounds of what was possible, which he tended to push to the ultimate limits. Although his designs were generally quite simple, they were very impressive. This can be seen in the postage stamp that depicts a sketch of the masks, a model of the scene and designs for the costumes used in Orfeo ed Euridice, (Ch. W. Gluck, 1991), currently housed in the Slovak National Gallery. When he spoke about this production, he liked to say that after a three month search for the concept of this drama, the result was a single triangle.