Hutterli imagines life as a Swiss elf

Oliver artist Kurt Hutterli is exhibiting an enchanting collection of his “found object” creations in a museum in Bosco Gurin, Switzerland this summer. The exhibit is called “The World of the Weltu”, the Weltu being a race of wood elves popular in the folklore  of this canton near the Italian border.

The   Walserhaus  Museum is purposely blurring the distinction between reality and fantasy by placing Kurt’s whimsical creations alongside historical objects. Kurt’s “found object” artwork uses vintage tools and natural items to create the superficial appearance of historical artefacts. Sometimes only a closer examination (or reading Kurt’s title for each piece) reveals the object is more fantastical than real!

In this exhibit, Kurt proposes these artefacts once belonged to the Weltu (elves) , for magical purposes one can only guess at. See if you can match thre titles to the art displayed here:  a birdcage to hold a magical egg, a boat to bring you pleasant dreams, a place to grow crystals, a story catcher, a moolight collector.

From the museum`s website:

The exhibition is inspired by the world of the Bosco Gurin legends. Each object finds the ideal location between the objects of everyday use that tell the traditional life of the past. This reminds us of how labile the borderline between reality and fantasy — between the apprehensible and the elusive — really is. It constituted the bridge between generations: during centuries, the tales and legends were passed down orally from generation to generation.


Because the use of many historical objects is no longer known, it is not easy to distinguish them from Kurt Hutterli’s creations.

A visit to the museum during the period of this very special exhibition is worthwhile and offers not only the possibility to experience ethnography, but also to plunge into the past in a magically pleasant way.

And Kurt says:

Since my childhood I feel very much linked to the Ticino canton thanks to my grandparents who in 1946 bought a house in Centovalli where they used to spend the period between spring and autumn. Even after my wife and I emigrated to Canada in 1996, we maintained a deep connectedness with Ticino.


In 2003 I started to [work on]an installation project entitled ‘The Museum of Unknown Civilizations’. When I visited the Museum Walserhaus in 2006, my friend and former curator asked me whether I could be inspired to enlarge my MUC collection [for inclusion in the Bosco Gurin exhibit]…. I started to work for this special ‘Bosco Gurin Collection’, also taking inspiration from Emily Gerstner-Hirzel’s book ‘Aus der Volksüberlieferung von Bosco Gurin’, and created the little archaic, mysterious, poetical, funny and sometimes weird objects.



For more stories and photos:

1 thought on “Hutterli imagines life as a Swiss elf

Comments are closed.