History of the European Stone Festival
1999: The European Stone Festival's premiere in Freiburg's suburb Munzingen.
2002: Again, Europe's young
stone artists gather in Freiburg.
2003: The European Stone Festival is held in front of Canterbury Cathedral.
2004: 128 young Europeans work together in Fertőrákos, Hungary.
2005: Hundreds of spectators gather with 150 participants in Eschholz Park.
2007: Working on pieces for a larger picture in Junas, France.
2012: Trondheim (Norway)
Working in the material soapstone was a novel and rewarding experience for the majority of the stone carvers and stonemasons at the European Stone Festival in Trondheim, Norway. The 2012 event was hosted by the Nidaros Cathedral Works Organisation, Trondheim and took place from 29 June to 1 July 2012.
Adjacent to the Cathedral, in the courtyard of the Archbishop’s Palace, 98 participants from 18 countries came together to realise their ideas on this year’s theme “Fairy Tales”. The atmosphere was relaxed as the apprentices, qualified masons and master masons from around the world worked together, obviously enjoying the opportunity to get to know fellow masons on both a personal and professional level.
The restoration works organisation of the Nidaros Cathedral, managed by Steinar Bjerkestrand and his team including Rune Langaas and Digre Øystein Aarlott, were responsible for the organisation of the festival. On Saturday afternoon, the festival was honoured by an impressive tattoo performance of the Royal Guards of the Norwegian Royal Family. The evening started with a delicious barbeque followed by a great rock’n’roll band which entertained the audience until midnight.
The timing of the festival was perfect. The weather conditions were ideal with the added bonus that it never goes dark in Trondheim at this time of year.
The high quality of the sculptures carved by the participants presented the jury members with the difficult task of selecting the award winners. The members of the international jury were Carol Heidschuster, Cathedral Works Manager in Lincoln, Bärd Sagfjæts, Trondheim, Norbert Stoffel from Strasbourg and Bernward Fiedler, Freiburg. The prize winners received a certificate together with a commemorative coin of sterling silver dedicated to the memory of the pilgrim St. Olav.
The festival weekend proved to be a great success. Many of the participants were not at the festival for the first time but had returned to renew contacts and friendships and enjoy the unique working atmosphere at the European Stone Festival. The visitors were obviously impressed by the sculptures as all the pieces were sold at the auction on Sunday evening.
Our thanks go to the team from the restoration works organisation at the Nidaros Cathedral for their organisation of a memorable stone festival.
See the picture gallery of the European Stone Festival 2012!
2010: Saverne (France)
‘Romanesque Art in Europe and the Symbolism of the Unicorn’ were the themes of the ninth European Stone Festival which took place from 28 to 30 May in Saverne. The festival site was in the park of the spectacular Classical Chateau des Rohan which is located in the North Vosges mountains in the Alsatian region of France. Over 180 stonemasons and stone carvers from all corners of Europe, and even from other continents, gathered in Saverne to put their skills to the test. All the participants positively glowed with pleasure throughout the event revelling in the opportunity to work together with fellow stonemasons from all over the world. Neither the inclement weather nor the variety of languages could dampen their mood of enthusiasm. During the festival, the visitors could also enjoy the informative exhibition organised by M. Jean Michel Mathonière on ‘Stereotomy, the art of stone cutting and the traditions of the stonemason’ in the Chateau des Rohan. Stonemasons from the Strasbourg Cathedral Workshop demonstrated the art of working with stone and lead.
The festival was organised by Norbert Stoffel, director of the CFA, the vocational training centre in Saverne. He has been involved with the festival and given it his full support since the beginnings of the event in 1999.
2009: Salzburg (Austria)
Over 130 apprentice stonemasons and stone carvers, qualified masons and master masons from 9 nations came to the tenth European Stone Festival to demonstrate their skills, the event taking place from 3 to 5 July on the Kapitelplatz in Salzburg. The international response to this creative festival for professional stonemasons was most impressive. The Steinzentrum Hallein and the Austrian National Stone Association were responsible for the organisation of the festival.
More than nine thousand visitors were lured to the festival by the sounds of hammers and chisels echoing throughout the city. Masons and carvers of all ages and with various levels of training impressed the visitors with their creativity as they transformed their blocks of stone into fascinating figures and sculptures during the two-day event. The incredible location of the festival site was the square between the cathedral and the fortress, a perfect setting for the masons to work on the theme of ‘Water and Nature’. The festival offered the participants a great opportunity to appraise their own skills in comparison to those of their European colleagues.
On Sunday, after the prize-giving ceremony, the majority of the sculptures were auctioned with the proceeds going towards the financing of the festival. The international jury of experts had no easy task in selecting the best from the 130 pieces of work while, at the same time, taking the participant’s level of training into consideration. The jury members praised the originality of several group sculptures as well as the outstanding quality of the pieces carved by the apprentices. The setting was absolutely perfect for this, the tenth anniversary of the European Stone Festival, which first took place in Freiburg in 1999 and has since been on tour all over Europe.
2008: Freiburg (Germany)
For the second time, the European Stone Festival took place directly in Freiburg. The new location in the Eschholz Park, close to the city centre, has proved to be a great success and is a more attractive location for both the participants and the visitors. On the last weekend in May, over 100 stonemasons and carvers from 13 countries gathered in Freiburg to put their skills to the test.
On this sunny weekend, the participants and visitors were able to enjoy the wonderful ambience in the tree-lined avenues of the Eschholz Park. There was a relaxed working atmosphere, with the sound of chisels giving a special flair to the event. The stonemasons and carvers were fully occupied with the task of realising their designs in stone to the European theme, but they still found time to answer the constant stream of questions from the inquisitive visitors. For the first time, the visitors had the opportunity to look at some of the participants’ designs exhibited in the festival office, and then experience first-hand how they worked them in stone. Musical accompaniment was provided by several live bands who performed on both evenings and a jazz session Sunday lunchtime.
The festival provided fun for all the family, with the “experimental workshop” offering children of all ages the chance to gain their first experience of carving artificial stone or natural stone under the professional supervision of experts from the Friedrich-Weinbrenner Technical College. The kids loved experimenting, and the workshop was such a great success that the supervisors had their hands full looking after the children’s needs and keeping them supplied with material. The parents were also fully occupied. They could also try out their hand at sculpture, experiment to their heart’s content and then even colour the finished piece.
In the meantime, the European Stone Festival has also become a job fair, the workplace of today no longer being Germany alone, but Europe. For many participants it is the only time in the year when they can meet up with their friends from other countries and exchange ideas. The European Stone Festival has long since become well-known all over the world. The growing reputation of the festival in the region and further afield was reflected by the number of visitors, who totalled over 13000. The well-established ‘stone path’ which advertises the festival, enjoyed even greater popularity this year and will definitely be extended for the 2011 event. The stonemasonry businesses from around the Freiburg region presenting their companies along the stone path, through the city centre to the Eschholz Park, drew large crowds who were very interested in the sculptures being carved and on display.
2007: Junas (France)
The European Stone Festival 2007 took place from 5 to 8 July in Junas, a village near Nîmes in the south of France. The Stone Festival was hosted by the southern French association of quarry owners (Association du Carrières de Bon Temps) from the Junas region and the "Des Hommes et Cailloux" organization, who set the challenging task of constructing a dome. The organization of quarry owners has organized the "Rencontres de la Pierre" (stone festival) as a national event in the Junas district for the last 20 years, supported by the local organization "Des Hommes et Cailloux" since 2004. Inspired by their visit to the Stone Festival Freiburg in June 2005, our French partners decided to hold the International Stone Festival in Junas as part of their 20 anniversary celebrations.
200 stone carvers from England, Germany, France, Austria, Hungary and South Tirol gathered in the picturesque village of Junas and had 16 hours to carve various pieces which were then assembled into wall fountains. Others carved "Stones for Europe" based on the theme of coming together, continents, cultures and globalization, or stones for the dome construction (the task depending on their level of training). The bankers for the raw blocks of stone were spread around the centre of the village. Many interested visitors travelled to Junas from near and far on this weekend in July to enjoy the European stone carving event.
The supporting programme included a geological exhibition featuring regional stone deposits and extraction methods, art and crafts exhibitions, wrought-iron work and music and cabaret in the ancient historic quarry, a breathtaking backdrop with a wonderful atmosphere for the evening entertainments programme.
See the picture gallery of the European Stone Festival 2007!
2005: Freiburg (Germany)
160 young stonemasons from 14 nations created small works of art from blocks of sandstone. About10 000 visitors looked over the shoulders of the craftsmen and women. In the shady avenues of the Eschholz Park, the young artists interpreted the themes "In vino veritas and The many faces of stone in different cultures".
To the wonderful sound of chisels, the visitors were able to experience at first hand how the figures and objects gradually took shape. In addition to carving in sandstone, the festival offered a wide range of activities for the whole family over the weekend. Animals and other creatures could be cut out of sheet metal, or even forged using anvil and hammer. Both young and old could create their own designs in soapstone. Anyone who felt inspired by the participants working at the festival, had the chance to try working with a chisel for themselves and carve their own personal creations in stone or artificial stone, under the guidance of experts. The brilliant sunshine all weekend long combined with the unique atmosphere of the Eschholz Park turned the festival into an amazing spectacle, with a constant stream of visitors meandering through the shady park avenues. The wide variety of music provided entertaining evenings under the stars.
The event is an ideal opportunity for the participants to exchange ideas with their foreign colleagues and observe different working techniques. The experience of working together on a project and getting into discussions with the visitors are the decisive factors which motivate the majority of stonemasons and carvers to take part in the European Stone Festival. It is a useful platform for exchanging ideas and making contacts with foreign companies. This comes as no great surprise, because the workplace of today is Europe.
See the picture gallery of the European Stone Festival 2005!
2004: Fertőrákos (Hungary)
From 9 to 11 July, 130 stonemasons and sculptors from 11 nations came together to put their skills to the test in Fertőrákos, a picturesque place of historical importance, situated on the Neusiedler Lake. The unique natural landscape has been a World heritage Site since 2001. Even in Roman times, the value of the natural stone deposits was recognised. The white Leitha limestone, a material which is easy to work and was quarried here, was an attractive material not only in nearby Sopron, an old, wealthy trading centre, but was also favoured for the construction of the Ringstraße, the famous boulevard in Vienna.
It is therefore no great surprise that the organisers of the Stone Festival, the Hungarian Association of Stonemasons and Producers of Artificial Stone, decided on Fertőrákos as the most suitable location to stage the festival.
See the picture gallery of the European Stone Festival 2004!
2003: Canterbury (UK)
In 2003, from 11 to 13 July, the Cathedral Works Organisation and the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury Cathedral in England organised a fantastic Stone Carving Festival in the Cathedral yard. More than 8o participants came from France, Norway, Hungary, Switzerland and Germany. Stonemasons and stone carvers set out to carve a fountain and pool surround made of a soft French limestone. The theme for the fountain was
The Sea and the carvers had the opportunity to interpret this in their own way. With superb sunshine all weekend and an excellent limestone to work, all the participants were highly motivated to accomplish the task.
Since Easter, in addition to their normal work at the Cathedral, the Senior Conservator, Heather Newton together with the Foreman Mason, Eamonn Lee and their team had worked on the time-consuming task of preparing the blocks. The individual blocks for the fountain had to be cut to size and mouldings prepared so that the participants could then carve their motifs and ornaments during the festival. The fountain, made up of over 70 stones, will be donated to the Strode Park Foundation and will be put up in their grounds in Herne, near the sea just outside Canterbury. Strode Park is the largest Care Centre for disabled people and their families in the County of Kent.
According to the Cathedral administration, following the great success of the festival, the Canterbury Cathedral Works Association is willing to join together with other countries in giving their support to the European Stone Festival so that the event can go on tour and be held in a different European country each year. During the festival weekend, the Cathedral achieved its highest ever visitor record in 50 years. Many of the international participants had already attended the previous year's festival in Freiburg. Having the opportunity to exchange professional experiences and being able to working together on the fountain project was foremost for the stonemasons and stone carvers. The keen interest displayed by the thousands of visitors motivated the participants and led to lively discussions. The stonemasons were accompanied in their work by a variety of musical attractions ranging from classical to folk and pop. Throughout the barbecue on Saturday evening, the participants
talked shop late into the night.
The accommodation in the international conference centre of the deanery as well as the meals provided by the centre's head chef left nothing to be desired. Refreshments were even served to the stonemasons and stone carvers while they continued working, and was certainly appreciated in the hot Canterbury sunshine.
See the picture gallery of the European Stone Festival 2003!
2002: Freiburg (Germany)
From 28 to 30 June 2002 over a hundred stonemasons and stone carvers from nine European countries gathered in Freiburg to put their skills to the test. The carvers and stonemasons came from all corners of Europe. Hungary, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Switzerland, Norway and Germany were all represented. Over 30% of the participants were women.
Over ten thousand visitors were attracted by the sounds of hammer and chisel and fascinated by the sculptures taking shape during the weekend. The village lanes, bathed in glorious sunshine, changed into a musical Euro-mile, echoing the sounds of Jazz, Dixie, Blues, Irish folk and Reggae rhythms. The participants had the rare opportunity to observe their European colleagues at work. They were able to compare their own skills with those of their European colleagues.
One of the highlights of the Festival, which took place in the palace courtyard on Sunday evening, was the auction of the pieces produced during the competition. Many visitors showed great interest in acquiring a sculpture, having watched the pieces taking shape over the weekend. The enthusiasm and hospitality of some visitors was so overwhelming that several participants were invited to stay at their homes over the weekend.
The awards ceremony took place on Sunday afternoon. There was a total of over 100 pieces to judge. Consequently, the jury had no easy task in deciding which works should receive a prize.
A breakthrough for the future of the European Stone Festival was achieved in Freiburg due to the presence of many official representatives from the European partner countries. The European Stone Festival 2004 will now take place in Hungary, thanks to the initiative of the President of the Budapest Association of Stonemasons, Gabriella Kőrösiné, the Secretary of the Hungarian Association of Stonemasons, Agnes Nagy and the Vice-President of the Hungarian Association of Stonemasons, Gabriella Csanadi. The Freiburg College, the Friedrich-Weinbrenner-Gewerbeschule, as organiser of the European Stone Festival 2002, is delighted to have found an enthusiastic and reliable partner in the Hungarian Association of Stonemasons and in the other institutions who are offering their full support to the successful concept of the event. From the start, the idea was to see the Festival go on tour around Europe, but finding partners has not been an easy task. Considerable progress has been made towards fulfilling one of the main aims of the European Stone Festival, which is that the event will become a long-term project promoting a more intensive exchange of experience and ideas between European countries. In 1999 and 2002 several professional contacts were made, which resulted in job opportunities in other countries. It is not only the wish of the organisers to promote the carving and sculpting profession, but also a desire to nurture the European spirit and encourage young carvers and sculptors to work together. The visitors response confirmed that the European Stone Festival is a wonderful opportunity to promote this trade with its rich historical and cultural past.
The success of the European Stone Festival 2002, as in 1999, was mainly due to the donations of top-quality material by the Metz company from Daleiden Germany, the English natural stone company Block Stone from Chesterfield, the Sachsen sandstone company from Pirna Germany and the Nuvolin company from Kenzingen, Germany. The Koenig company not only donated the attractive prizes in the form of tools, but also kept the participants supplied with sharpened tools throughout the competition.
See the picture gallery of the European Stone Festival 2002 & 1999!
1999: Freiburg (Germany)
The idea for a European Stone Festival came into being in 1997 when a group of stonemasons from Freiburg took part in the annual French competition
Rencontres de la Pierre in Junas near Nîmes, France.
Two years later, from 25 to 27 June 1999, over 90 apprentices, stonemasons and stone carvers met at the first European Stone Festival in the picturesque south German city of Freiburg. The festival was organized by the Friedrich-Weinbrenner-Gewerbeschule, Freiburg's college for stonemasons and stone carvers.
Over the weekend, the sound of hammers and chisels attracted thousands of visitors who were fascinated by the creation of the stone sculptures. For the duration of the competition the tree-lined lanes around the palace were turned into a musical Euro-mile: accompanied by jazz, dixie, Irish folk and African rhythms, wine and culinary specialities from the Freiburg region were served by the local clubs and wine-growers. Further attractions on offer were the chasing workshop of the German bronze casting company Strassacker, Koenig, the tool-making company from Karlsruhe, who presented their latest masonry tools and equipment and donated the prizes for the competition and Block Stone from Chesterfield, who not only supported the event with their generous donation of stone blocks but also presented their latest product range at the festival. The younger visitors had great fun working with artificial stone and creating stone reliefs with the assistance of a group of master students from Freiburg College.
The participants from England, Germany, France, Switzerland, Croatia and Canada enjoyed the rare chance to observe their colleagues from other countries at work, and took the opportunity to discuss methods and techniques with each other. It could not have been a better setting for an event advertising a renowned trade steeped in culture and history.
The competitors were divided into two main groups: stonemasons and stone carvers. They were then classified according to their level of training and were given a choice of tasks for either a technical or a sculptural piece of work measuring 40 x 40 x 20 cm. The task selected had to be completed within 14 hours. The various tasks gave each competitor the freedom to design their piece individually.
The occasion marked the successful beginning to a Stone Festival which was already destined to become an annual event.
See the picture gallery of the European Stone Festival 1999 & 2002!