Mária Filová, DiS.
How did you get to work on medals? And why did you come from Slovakia to study at a Czech school?
I studied engraving at home in Slovakia and I started working as an engraver in a small printer focusing on steel printing in the Czech Republic. I produced stamping dice intended for relief printing. I enjoyed the engraving and I wanted to use it differently, for example on knives, so I attended the knife exhibitions, where I learned about the Higher Vocational School in Jablonec nad Nisou. I continued my studies there and successfully graduated from major in Minted medals and coins.
Your final thesis caused a commotion in professional circles - in a good way, of course - and made it into the media. You worked with the Czech Mint, but also with the Czech National Bank. Can you describe its main idea and the circumstances of its origin?
I created a set of nine medals entitled Currency in the Czech Republic, which represents a cross-section of the history of minting from the 10th century to the current currency with a nominal value of 1 CZK. The medal fulfills the function of a bearer, into which I pressed individual coins with the help of embossing tools, which developed and formed into today's form.
I was looking for a suitable topic for the final thesis, and I found this directly in the name of my field of study - Minted medals and coins. I had several reasons for combination of medal and coin. The well-known sculptor Otakar Španěl studied engraving at the art school in Jablonec nad Nisou, he created many medals and also became the author of circulation coins. The Czech Mint in Jablonec nad Nisou, which works closely with the medal school and gives students the opportunity to implement their work into their final papers, was my other impulse. I must also mention the Czech National Bank, which issues coins and banknotes, as inspiration.
I tried to create stamping dies for the oldest historical coins using period methods in order to get as close as possible to the real form. The Czech Mint and the Czech National Bank lent me the embossing tools for the Prague groschen, the First Republic crown-coin and the current crown-coin. The kreuzer coin is original. During the minting of the coins, I left room for pressure, which is an inevitable part of it. This uniquely affected the appearance of both sides of each medal, therefore, their design is unrepeatable.
During the processing of the set, I encountered many questions and struggled to deal with ever new circumstances. Professional MgA teachers. Josef Oplištil, DiS., PhDr. Kateřina Nora Nováková, Ph.D., Mr. Luboš Charvát and Vojtěch Dostál, DiS. helped me. I consulted the selection of coins with historians and numismatists prof. PhDr. Petr Vorl, CSc., PhDr. Luboš Polanský, Ph.D., and PhDr. Jiří Militký, Ph.D.
Where do you draw inspiration for your work from? Do you have a favorite art style?
It may sound trivial, but I'm looking for inspiration all around me. Whether it's nature or people I meet. My teachers, their art and their approach to students are a great inspiration. I like to observe the work of contemporary medal makers and world engravers. I admire the work of Renaissance artists and the wonderful lightness of the paintings of Impressionism, and I would also like to commemorate Albrecht Dürer, Václav Hollar and Gustave Doré.
You processed gift medals with motifs of all twelve signs of the zodiac for the Czech Mint. How did you like the work on them? Was it monotonous for you, or did you find something different in each?
Twelve signs of the zodiac are a very well-known theme, and therefore there are many ways to deal with it. I stuck to the requirement for a realistic rendering. The variety of signs suited me, so I did not encounter monotony during processing. I created the medals during my studies, which was a great benefit for me.
What are your plans for the future? Would you prefer to work in the Czech Republic or Slovakia? Is medal making only a job or a hobby for you?
In the future, I want to focus on processing medals and continue to work with the Czech Mint, for which I would like to work directly. Creating medals constantly brings new knowledge, which interests me, so it is both a hobby and a job that I enjoy. I am still interested in cooperation with knife makers and I would like to focus on creating engravings.
And what about an artistic dream? Is there a specific theme you are interested in the future?
As part of my final thesis, I was interested in the history of coinage. I would like to work on the theme of steam locomotives and create a set of medals. And I would like to work for the Kremnica Mint because I come from Kremnica.