The “Jamy” [Caves] project marks another attempt at capturing a certain “sensation”. It is a continuation of my previous collection— “Shape”. It is carried out under the scholarship from the Minister of Culture and National Heritage.
The aforementioned “sensation” proves inexpressible; however, it can be described as being in contact with something entirely ordinary, trivial even, or perhaps imperceptible, neglected and excluded from perception. Concurrently, this “something” is momentous in its obviousness, almost monumental, and yet amorphous.
It may have been a mistake to search for means of expression in culture and nature. However, my analytical nature once again made me look for traces of that “sensation” among already existing objects. Thus, I took interest in primitive techniques of crafting objects, their function defined by the fact that they are hollow inside. A simple, synthetic form devoid of details, defined only as far as absolutely necessary. Hollowed out trees, caves, lairs, bird hollows, wild beehives, wild and human-made bee trees, barrels, basins, buckets, monoxylons (boats), single tree-trunk sculptures.
Honey bees (Apis mellifera) utilising a cavity in an aspen tree at Dundreggan
wild bee hive
Initially, I wanted the “Jamy” furniture collection to evoke primitive sculpture, as I have always been fascinated by it. However, I was not interested in the subject of representation. My concept did not involve the subject, only the means of expression applied. I have analysed the characteristic features of folk sculpture, determining its character and appeal, in order to subsequently apply selected features such as, for instance, their verticality, as in the case of hewn statues, or the compactness of the solid, which in primitive sculpture results from the fact that they are made of a single piece of wood, or the use of a certain material, e.g. soft wood, which ages differently from the species of wood considered noble in modern carpentry, or the use of specific techniques and tools of woodworking, such as an adze instead of a precision chisel.
I considered objects reminiscent in their shape of a hollowed out tree—serving as a refuge for animals—such as a hollow or a cave. I was intrigued by the primitivism of using an existing element of nature and giving it a function, much like in the case of vases and buckets made of hollowed out tree stumps. I was attracted by the simplicity and usefulness of such a reversal of the design process, where one must first consider the object-material and only later the ways to use it, the function it should be given. I imagined a tall oval pole with an opening, or several openings, or none, in each case empty inside. That internal space would serve for storage, depending on the function attributed to the piece of furniture.
During the realisation of the project, I focused on getting to know the techniques of carving a full log. I observed wild beehives, human-made bee trees, monoxylons, objects of everyday use and statues made using the uchiguri technique. I researched the methods developed in the past and by different cultures. At the same time, I scoured local sawmills for logs that would be naturally hollow. Such hollow tree trunks result from various factors—considered to be defects in lumber, such as: internal wet rot, ring shakes, rotten burls. I listened to stories about bee trees being made from such tree trunks in the olden days.
Log hive, Orawa Ethnographic Park Zubrzyca Górna
Exhibition "The order of Things", State Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw
Figurative hives from Dworek, Ethnographic Museum in Wrocław
Concept, design and making: Anna Bera
Photos: Emilia Oksentowicz, ONI Studio
Zrealizowano w ramach stypendium Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego [Realized under the scholarship of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland]