XVIII Edition of the fair

Between 1st and 3th of September 2023 year, under the patronage of the chairman to the Bulgarian National Assembly Rosen Zheliazkov was held the XVIII International Fair of Traditional Crafts.
In the International craftsmen's exhibition bazaar in 2023, 55 craftsmen took part from Armenia, Hungary, Iran, Georgia, Slovakia, Serbia, Turkey, Estonia, Malta, Romania, and Bulgaria. The foreigners are 30 and in the 3 days of the fair they demonstrated in front of the visitors their skills in wood carving, stone masonry, carpet weaving, pottery, drawing on furniture, making of laces, felting, making of traditional embroidery, making of knitted shoes and jewels from glass, drawing in water. The participants from Bulgaria were 25 craftsmen from 10 regions of the country, all of them with significant contribution to the preservation of the practiced craft or skill. In the days of the Fair they presented blacksmithery, cutlery, coppersmith's trade, cooperage, weaving, icon painting, woodcarving – miniature and traditional, whittler's trade, saddle-making, harness-making, pottery, stone masonry, confectionary, processing of bone and horn, basket-making, making of Kalofer's lace, knitting, decorations of eggs, making of folk musical instruments, antique weapons and jewels of beads.
During the 18th International Fair of Traditional Crafts "Etar" museum was visited by few foreign delegations from city of Kutahya /Turkey/, Malta Crafts Foundation – with which a Memorandum of Understanding was signed, Historical Museum of Armenia and Ethnographical Open-Air Museum – Tbilisi, Georgia.
The craftsmen's competition in 2023 was in silversmith's craft. Six craftsmen from 5 countries – Malta, Romania, Turkey, Macedonia and Bulgaria took part in it. All of them competed in making an element of buckles, property of the Regional Historical Museum – Shumen and in addition everyone presented an author's item, made in filigree technique. From 2017 a Youth Section at the Craftsmen's Competition is organized. In 2023 two graduates from the National High School of Applied Arts "St. Luka" – Sofia, specialty Artistic Processing of Metals and two graduates from specialty Metal of the National Academy of Arts took part in the competition for young people in jeweler's skills. They had a task to make a replica of an old-time earring from the stock of "Etar" museum.
The Big Award "Silver Bell", an honorary diploma Distinctive, money prize in the amount of 1500 leva and a right of an exhibition bazaar during the next edition of the Fair was awarded to Tsetsa Damianova. The special prize of Municipality Gabrovo, accompanied by a financial incentive of 1200 leva and honorary diploma Distinctive, was awarded to Antony Bonichi from Malta. With the special prize of REOM "Etar", an honorary diploma and a money prize of 1000 leva was awarded to Sakin Iaman from Turkey. Viktoria Geuskens from Romania received the award "From Craftsman to Craftsman", provided by the master cutler in Etar museum Andrey Andreev in the amount of 200 leva. With the prize of "Bronze Bell" and one time scholarship in the amount of 500 leva was awarded to Karina Ampartsumian, graduate at National Academy of Arts. The institution received the right of an exhibition bazaar during the next edition of the Fair. The awards were bestowed at an official ceremony during the Master's Evening traditional for the Fair.
The articles, made by the participants in the Craftsmen's Competition in silversmith's trade and in the competition of the young people in jeweler's skills, are presented in the exhibition "Created By Silver – Refinement And Beauty", which is arranged above the Coppersmith display /№ 39 on the museum map/ and can be seen till the end of the year.
For fourth time in a row one of the accents in the program of the International Fair of Traditional Crafts was the exhibition bazaar Art Zone. It has an aim to promote the craftsmen's culture by the author's character of the artists, who present the modern application of the traditional craftsmen's techniques. In this year's edition, the exhibition welcomed the first Bulgarian contemporary pipe-maker Georgi Todorov – Gets, who has brought the craft from Czech Republic. He acquainted the public with the specifics of making pipes of two parts. The innovative luthier Dean Denchev presented the details in making of a rebeck. Maria Asenova shared her author's techniques for making articles out of natural materials with the visitors of the fair and the artisan Svetlana Camps revealed the secrets of dry and wet felting. This year in the Art Zone there was and a representatives of Japan – Aimi Odai, who was accompanied by Iliana Kostova, a teacher in Sofia University "Kliment Ohridski", department Japanese studies. She demonstrated origami and writing the names of the visitors who wished with the Japanese alphabets Hiragana and Katakana.
The Bulgarian participants in the Art Zone were invited by the Bulgarian ambassadors of the international network for craftsmen Homo Faber – the visual artist and professional photographer Rosina Pencheva and "Etar" museum, represented by the main curator Rossitsa Bineva, Crafts department. The selection was made on the basic of 11 criteria for exclusivity of Michelangelo Foundation: authenticity, innovation, interpretation, competence, creativity, craftsmanship, education, originality, talent, territory and tradition.
In the rich musical and dance folklore program almost 300 performers from 8 professional, amateur, children's and youth ensembles took part. For the first time the Fair was opened officially in the evening hours of the first day with the performance of the Folklore Ensemble Gabrovche. On the next day the special accent were the musicians of the Berkovska Brass Band. The programme included also the participation of Dance group at the community centre "Aprilov-Palauzov 1861" and Dance group "Devet Osmi BG" from Gabrovo, Folklore dance ensemble "Pirinche" from Blagoevgrad, Folklore group "Pletenitsa" from V. Tarnovo, Dance group at the National School of Arts "Dobri Hristov", Varna, representative group at the National School for Musical and Stage Arts "Hristina Morfova", Stara Zagora.
In the days of the 18th edition of the Fair two foreign exhibitions were arranged. The Croatian intangible cultural heritage in the lists of UNESCO is a photographer's story about a living tradition, knowledge, skills, creativity and beauty handed down from generation to generation. The exhibition "Armenian Traditional National Costumes, Tradition and Fashion" presented replicas of the best exhibits of the national costumes, preserved in the Historical Museum of Armenia and posters with archives photos. The exhibition was realized in partnership with Teryan Cultural Centre, which since 2000 has been working for spreading and popularizing of the cultural, ethnographical and intangible values of Armenia.
In the International Scientific Forum "Traditional Crafts: Contemporary Reflections" – part of the Fair, 23 specialists from 9 countries /Slovenia, Latvia, Serbia, Armenia, Italy, Croatia Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria/ participated with reports. The plenary report, dedicated to the development of the crafts in modern and the most modern time, was presented by Prof. Svetla Dimitrova, PhD – director of Etar Museum. The scientific forum was attended by lots of museum specialist from the country that joined it as listeners.
For the first time in the days of the Fair, a photographer's competition "Ethno Objective: Fair of Crafts" was held. 15 photographers, professionals and amateurs, registered for participation in it. The smallest one was 10 years old and the oldest – 76 years old. According to the regulations of the competition, it allowed and participation of not registered in advance photographers, so finally 109 photos from 22 authors were received. With part of them an exhibition will be arranged in the beginning of December.
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