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Găleșoaia's Soil and People


Astra Museum





The secret memory of objects. Găleșoaia's Soil and People

Exhibition opening Găleşoaia's Soil and People

Location: open-air museum, Pottery sector, Găleșoaia and Horezu Households

Date: Sunday, 11 June 2023, 12.00 - 17.00

ASTRA Museum organizes on Sunday, June 11, 2023, starting at 12.00, the opening of the exhibition "Găleșoaia's Spoil and People". Highlighting the households transferred from this locality from Gorj County, to the Museum in Dumbrava Sibiului, the exhibition brings to the public's attention the complicated destiny of a displaced community. As a result of the expansion of the lignite quarry in the area, all buildings were demolished, forests and orchards were cut down, and the landscape became unrecognisable.

"Găleșoaia was a famous potters' centre, the craft being practised, in the middle of the 20th century, by over 90 families. Skilled in wood and textile processing, but also in agriculture, fruit growing and cattle breeding, the inhabitants developed their village in close connection with the resources offered by nature. Concerned with beauty, they built houses with porches, with pillars and fretwork beams, on stone foundations, with oak and later brick walls. The older houses were covered with wattle and daub and had walls plastered with soil. Earth insulation was also used for stables. Newer houses were two-storey, with a porch on both levels, and were tiled. Both a more archaic model of house and a newer one, with a storey, were transferred to Dumbrava Sibiului, following the donation made by the Haret family. Through these households and a substantial collection of objects, we can tell the story of this village, of its pottery and community. Two potters carry on the local tradition, even taking on the mission of passing on the craft to young people, through workshops organised at fairs, in schools or in museums. The donor of the houses, Mrs Elena Haret, will be present at the event, along with other members of the community. The potters Dumitru Coneru and Ion Retezeanu are old friends of the ASTRA Museum and return, on this new occasion, to work in the workshop set up in the old house, but also in the shed, modelling and decorating pots, helping the public to understand through direct contact and experience with clay", said Ovidiu Baron, Deputy Director General of the ASTRA Museum. 

Pottery, woodworking and traditional gastronomy workshops will be held from 12 noon to 5pm in the two households in the Pottery sector. Footage from field research carried out in 2009 and 2023 will be shown in the small cinema in the neighbouring potter's household from Horezu. A series dedicated to potters, entitled "The Masters of Clay", presents the tradition of Horezu and Găleșoaia's pottery and will be completed with new episodes.

"This time we chose a different approach, by keeping a classical perspective inside the new house and arranging functional spaces in the old household. Here it will be possible to work in the house and in the shed, and the pots will be burned in the oven in the courtyard. All the stages of preparing, processing and firing pots, patterns, motifs and specific colours will be presented. While the interior of the new house will provide a faithful insight into traditional dwellings, the old house will feature installations of objects that challenge visitors to interpret and understand the story through their own thinking, supported by personal experience and information provided by the curators. Some objects will be placed in the foreground, drawing attention to motifs, symbols or colours. Others will be grouped together to illustrate the processuality or show the functions of a room, the multiple connections between pottery tools, household or decorative objects. Each object conveys a story of its own, contained in form, ornament and colour, through its role and place in the household, through traces of use. It tells us important things about the people who created it and those who used it. It also illustrates a sequence from a larger process, from a scene of work or domestic life. By transferring it to the museum, it acquires new functions and meanings. The object is a silent witness to the home, the family, the wider community. The material taken from the surrounding nature transposes a landscape sequence into the home. The craftsman is thus a mediator between nature and the community, part of his mission being taken over by the object he has created", said Ancuța Ilie, head of the Exhibitions-Workshop Department. Cultural mediation, ASTRA Museum.

The exhibition thus brings together the landscape of Găleșoaia village, the skills of the craftsmen, sequences from the lives of those who lived there. The resource land and the people who had to leave it, united by the story discreetly preserved in the object.

The event is part of the "Secret Memory of Objects" programme , through which ASTRA Museum assumes the role of mediator between the local community and the public, between older and younger generations, between the social, political and cultural environment, between nature and man. It is the first cultural mediation programme in Romanian museums, started last year, on the occasion of the exhibition "The Sun in the Plate".

The exhibition is curated by Ovidiu Baron and Ancuța Ilie.

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