Beke Györgyi


It happened on Sunday, the first day with spring sunshine. I started to prepare the lunch in high spirits. To make the salad, I grabbed the spring onions, cutting off its roots. I was to throw away the parings into the waste, when I noticed the lush roots, and I felt sorry for them. Running down to the workshop, I threw a big bowl, pressing the tangled roots into the middle. “Sunday lunch leavings” – it is the title.

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The Bowl is not any plate. It has a message. For a wedding party, a Shaman bowl was ordered (I made two of it, both were purchased). It was a great amount of mental labor. I gathered all the emblems, Moon and Sun, connecting Heaven to Earth. Snakes of prehistoric patterns wriggling, frogs jumping, folks dancing wildly. Be a great joy, I thought. It became so.

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“I do not care if I meet a special request. I had some difficult customer. For example, the Hungarian countess! Being a chatelaine of a Loire chateau, she managed a house as a headquarters of the French-Hungarian relations in her estate. It was a long time ago. She asked me to build in a blind window using Hungarian motifs. I suggested the genres of the traditional gingerbreads from the 19th century – ploughman, hussars, coach, and horse. She liked the idea, but she insisted to the original vivid colours, while I wanted to match the colours to the hue of the brick wall. Finally, I made both. For her, I meticously painted the pelisse of the hussar in red, boot in black, pants in blue. At least she left me a glazed object, but for parole, I had to promise not give it to anyone. Finally I could retain the mould of gypsum”.

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“This workshop has the snuff of my mother!” says her daughter, Réka, entering, when she observes the sulphuric air of the burning clay and minerals, coming from the kiln. She grew up in this cosy, warm, fragrant atmosphere. For a long time Györgyi has a workshop with a huge kiln in the attic of a downtown Pest house. She sat at her potter’s wheel as at her throne. Between her hands a porcelain-thin globe vase was spinning. She encouraged us: “Play with the clay!”

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Even now she could teach hundreds of her ideas. How the kitchen roller, a fishing line, or anything at hand can be used. What is eternal secret: the glaze! For high level glazing you need thorough knowledge of minerals, good sense, and skilful hands.

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“Nowadays we can fire salt-glazed ceramics in Kecskemét. A dangerous procedure. Zsolnay knew this technique as well. According my recipe, I ground the ceramics using different minerals, and then heating to 1000 centigrade. While it is cooling down slowly, salt solution is sprinkled to it. The result is unique and unrepeatable. It is like marble.”

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“It is hard to get date for firing. Once upon a desired date I was making a large relief. It was 2 o’clock in the morning, time was short. I was just putting the layers on layers. Then the clay was not able to bear its own weight, and collapsed. Angrily, I mushed all together. In a daze, I got a handful clay, and I made the statue ”Impulse”. It became later the guardian angel of my new workshop. One of the numerous guardian angels…”

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21/11/2010 Budapest


Personal details

Education: apprenticeship in ceramic (Hódmezővásárhely, 1966); diploma of teacher’s degree, mathematics and drawing (Szeged College of Pedagogy, 1971). Member of Hungarian Art Fund. 1971-1980: expert at the ceramic workshop, Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest. 1975-1981: teacher, Zebegény Free School (ceramics).

Works in public and in public collections (examples): Kutahya (Turkey), La Habana (Cuba), Kossuth Museum (Cegléd, wall ceramics), Janus Pannonius Museum (Pécs, figurines)

Deceased in 2012




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