Giewont Studio is a one-man initiative founded by Maciej Gąsienica-Giewont, an artist from Podhale, the mountainous southernmost region of Poland. If wood could talk - and Gąsienica-Giewont claims it can - then he would be its most adept listener. The artist has rediscovered a centuries-old woodturning technique which he uses to create his unique bowls and vases.
Giewont Studio is a one-man initiative founded by Maciej Gąsienica-Giewont and if wood could talk — and Gąsienica-Giewont claims it can — then he would be its most adept listener.
Maciek Gąsienica Giewont, photo: courtesy of the Giewont Studio
As a trained carpenter, wood has always played a major role in Maciej Gąsienica-Giewont’s life; and yet, he believes that "everything started in the United States in the 1930s."* For it was when he happened upon the work of James Prestini, the American artist and master woodturner, that Gąsienica-Giewont discovered his own voice. Inspired by the artistic quality of Prestini’s work, he began experimenting with this woodturning technique himself.
Gąsienica-Giewont’s technique involves intent listening and a peculiar kind of dialogue. He establishes close contact with his chosen medium, and spends some time getting to know it in order to "communicate" with it. Rather than imposing his own vision on the wood, instead he works with it and tries to do it justice by following its natural colours and the patterns of its grain. By keeping his artistic interference to a necessary minimum - by using simple shapes and no ornamentation— the artist seeks to draw particular attention to the attributes of the material itself. And those things which most craftsmen would consider defects, Gąsienica-Giewont cherishes the most: discolorations, cracks and knots act as the focal points of the objects he creates. His portfolio is impressive not only in terms of the variety of materials he uses, but also because the vessels he crafts come in such a diversity of shapes. From a range of different types of wood, including oak, cherry, and elm, he creates sturdy, thick-walled bowls and thin, fragile, flower-like vases. Their arresting forms and textures liberate these vessels from their strictly functional roles and transform them into artefacts — this is very much the result of Prestini’s influence. As Gąsienica-Giewont puts it: "Vessels become objects. Bowls become wood once more."
Giewont Studio, wooden bowls, Courtesy of the designer
His works have been shown at numerous exhibitions across Poland. In 2012, Gąsienica-Giewont was one of twelve artists who were invited to take part in "The Tree Project", a collaborative project between the Municipal Art Gallery in Zakopane and the Tatra National Park. The artists were each given a piece of wood from an old ash tree that had had to be felled in the National Park, and then asked to interpret it in his or her own way. Gąsienica-Giewont’s response was a thick-walled bowl in the form of a half sphere. Commenting on this project, he stressed the importance of the wood’s origins and its history, describing the material as "a witness to a changing world."
Giewont Studio, Black on Black, Courtesy of the designer
His work can also be discussed in the wider context of a general revival of craftsmanship, as was the case at an exhibition organised by Cieszyn Castle to renew interest in dying crafts and encourage contemporary artists interested in revisiting traditional craftsmanship techniques. Gąsienica-Giewont’s wooden bowls were chosen to participate in the 14th edition of a travelling exhibition entitled "Unpolished — Young Design from Poland", which showcased some of the country’s most promising artists working in contemporary Polish design.
Agata Morka August 2013
"Wokół środka" (Around the Centre) Fraktal Galery. Bielsko-Biała, 2006
"Materia Prima" BWA Galery. Bielsko-Biała, 2010
"Nowa tradycja? Rzemiosło i dizajn" (New Tradition? Craftsmanship and Design) Cieszyn Castle. Cieszyn, 2012
"Re:interpretacje. Idee z odzysku" (Re:interpretations. Salvaged Ideas) The Museum of Southern Podlesia in Biała Podlaska. Biała Podlaska, 2012
"Projekt Drzewo" (The Tree Project) Municipal Art Gallery. Zakopane, 2012
"Unpolished — Young Design From Poland" Seoul, August 2012
"Design Embassies" Holon, Israel, December 2012–March 2013
"Materia Prima" Munkeruphus Munkerup, Dronningmølle, Denmark 2013
"Forest and Meadow" Design Trade, Bella Center, Copenhagen, Denmark 2013
"The Tree" Lengyel Intézet, Budapest, Hungary 2013