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1 November 2023

Halloween as art therapy

A sunny autumn Monday morning turned into a gloomy, drizzly afternoon when everyone would rather be holed up at home watching the rain from the window. The unexpected change in the weather, which according to all forecasts was supposed to be sunny all day on Monday, provided the perfect atmosphere for one of the most popular student events - the Halloween pumpkin carving competition and a fancy-dress party.

In the cold wind, yellow-red leaves were drifting down from the grey sky into the garden of Poděbrady Castle. The last gentle breath of nature's colours covered the frightening pumpkin monsters and the ever-present bats, spiders and skeletons were upset by the regular drumming of falling chestnuts. It was clear to all the attending students that summer had definitely been defeated today and that the season of winter darkness was approaching, bringing with it a holiday that the Celts had celebrated as the day on which the line between the world of the living and the dead was blurred.

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Dreadful scenes then took place at the individual craft tables, where helpless pumpkins lay, fully surrendered to artistic ambition. On the spotless white tablecloths, originally filled only with heads and sketches of the upcoming operations, the drafts soon disappeared beneath the piled-up pumpkin insides as time passed. Somewhere, sharp knives were used to reshape eyes with millimetric precision, elsewhere, the blades carved out perfectly geometrically shaped pieces of orange pumpkin flesh with the accuracy of Japanese chefs. All this was carried out under the expert supervision of class teachers.

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Those brave enough to make it into the main hall past the skeleton wearing a witch's hat were rewarded with sweet and savoury treats. Then, in a dim orange light, an expert committee evaluated the art works and masks, after which music and a wild dance ensued. 

Text: Petra Köppl

Text: Petra Köppl

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