Hand-milking the cows, vegetable garden weeding, helping to hay in the summer and shovel snow when the white accumulation overnight pressed itself half-way up against the front door. Long walks to school and hours spent in creative play outdoors with her four siblings: Gret laughs merrily when she remembers her other favourite past-time: sitting with her sister in the warm kitchen at the table and the two drawing and painting.
Hotel Krone, Urnäsch, Mural. Photo: Hotel Krone
These childhood passions weave themselves throughout the artist’s life. In 2015, she was being honoured on her 70iest birthday with a prestigious art exhibition at the Appenzell Folkart Museum. Two years later, Gret is unveiling her latest mural painting at Hotel Krone in Urnäsch to the rolling of Swiss tv cameras, and then goes on a week-long mountain ski tour in the Swiss-Italian Alps.
Gret studied traditional Swiss furniture, textile and many other painting styles at several art schools and upon completion, taught painting for many years while working as a postmistress and at the office of the 1,350 meter base station Schwägalp, which leads up to Säntis mountain at 2,502 meters height. In-between, she took sabbaticals to study art in the U.S. or go on world trips such as bicycling through Vietnam.
Woodcut and print. Photo: Tüüfner Poscht
From painting table-sets for Appenzell restaurant (Gret is known to have been called royal court-painter to the Appenzell mountain hotellerie), to painting wood furniture, house facades and everything in-between, one of Gret’s favourite mediums today is wood cutting. Rather than using metal and chemicals, the artist prefers to work in small issues by cutting her designs into the wood, then applying color manually to produce the mirror image on paper. “It is one of the art forms in which I can continue to preserve traditional Appenzell style in a new and different way.”
Gret Zellweger at work in her studio. Photo: Tüüfner Poscht
Gret is sought after for her metal art, depicting her home region Teufen’s Sylvester Chläus, the traditional Appenzell New Year’s Eve walkers with costumes, head gear and huge, ringing bells, wishing everyone a happy new year.
Not being a friend of planning too far into the future but rather seeing opportunity in everything that presents itself, when asked about her plans, Gret says that she will continue to be artistically productive, do her hiking and skiing, and of course, go on travelling. Like the next trip she’s signed up for in the Land of Beech Trees, Bukovina, Romania, where she’ll be joining a small group of hikers to explore the famous forest on foot.
If you’re in Teufen, Appenzell, visit this multi-talented lady. Everyone in this beautiful village with the gorgeous gabled, gilded houses will be able to point you to in her direction. Gret Zellweger will be happy to meet with you at her studio – provided you catch this active, lively artist while she is in town…