Go behind the scenes with master artisans during Les Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Arts 2015 in Geneva, Vaud & Jura

artisans at work, Geneva, Vaud, Lausanne

HAVE you ever wondered how wig makers create hair pieces and makeup artists apply cosmetics to transform actors into the characters they portray onstage? How marionnettes are made and manipulated at puppet theatres? Or what techniques are employed to restore precious books at public libraries?

Ever wanted to take a sneek peak at an actor’s dressing room or into the costume department of a prestigious theatre company or opera house? Or maybe you’re curious to discover how “ordinary” artisans create intricate ironwork, beautiful ceramics, musical instruments, blown glass and fine lace, to name only a few sophisticated crafts.

If so, then this coming weekend you can have your questions answered by these master artisans during the Swiss contribution to the Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Art 2015 on Friday 27, Saturday 28, and Sunday 29 March in Geneva and at various locations in the cantons Vaud and Jura.

artisans at work

A European-wide cultural event

Every Spring, as part of the pan-European Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Art, cultural and artistic institutions in Geneva invite the public to take part in this free event that gains them access to places as well as people usually visible only behind the scenes.

These include specialists in ceramics, marquetry, gilding, taxidermy, glass blowing, lace making, book and fine art restoration, as well as those creative souls behind the scenes at museums, theatres and opera houses who contribute so much to performances and exhibitions (set designers and decorators, makeup artists, stagehands, etc).


Geneva opens its doors more than ever before

This year over forty trades will be showcased in thirty locations in Geneva (largely in the city centre). A comprehensive overview of each event both by trade (métier) or location (lieu) is available here (in French only. Tours and events are also conducted in French). Take note, beneath each description, of the dates and times when tours and events are given as well as their exact location (for example, costume and prop departments may be housed elsewhere than in the theatre.)

For information about how to register in advance (a must as places are limited) by email, phone or in person, as well as to download a complete programme and description of the events in Geneva, please click here.


 An expanded programme in Vaud

This year as with (for the first time) last year, Vaud canton is also participating but with a greatly expanded programme. Thirty eight artisans will open the doors to their ateliers and share their knowledge of craftsmanship in the following media: stone (sculpting, etc), fire (glass and iron making), wood (furniture making, lute maker, sculpture), paper (restorer of ancient documents, printer), precision instruments (watchmaking), leather and textiles (embroidery, saddle making, etc), as well as specialists in the applied arts (set decorating, copper engraving).

To download (télécharger le programme) an overview and description of individual events go here. Click on the name of each event to access practical information about visiting dates, times and locations; click on the purple button “cliquer ici pour s’inscrire” to register.

artisan days in Geneva

The Jura joins in

For the first time this year, the Jura has also chosen to participate with eight artisans including a lace maker, a lute maker, a ceramicist, a watch and clock maker, an art restorer and an ironmonger.

You can download a programme and read more about these talented artisans here, and access information about dates, times and locations by clicking on the name of the artist. Sign up for an event by clicking on the button labelled “cliquer ici pour s’inscrire”.

Registration for these events has been underway for a week or so already but there are still some places available. Based on my own experience last year when we visited the set-building ateliers for Geneva’s Grand Théâtre, the makeup artist at Théâtre Le Poche, and made a tour backstage at La Comédie de Genève, you’ll enjoy yourself and learn a lot in the process.

All photos copyright Fred Merz.

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