The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Sunday, May 20, 2018

Frescoes bring tourists, hope to Roma village
Visitors stand in front of murals in Bodvalenke, Hungary. In the Roma village, situated some 250 km northeast from the Hungarian capital Budapest, Roma painters from Hungary and other European countries are invited to paint murals on the walls of the houses. Bodvalenke may be desperately poor, but some colourful murals depicting folk tales and figures from Roma legends are generating hope, inspiration and tourist money for the small Hungarian village. AFP PHOTO / PETER KOHALMI.

By: Gregoire Ozan

BUDAPEST (AFP).- Bodvalenke may be desperately poor, but some colourful murals depicting folk tales and figures from Roma legends are generating hope, inspiration and tourist money for the small Hungarian village.

"The concept is simple. Roma artists from Hungary and beyond come here to paint wonderful frescoes on houses," said Eszter Pasztor, a non-Roma translator and interpreter from Budapest who launched the project in 2009.

The 55-year-old hatched the idea after a visit to the Nubia region in southern Egypt where she came across a village welcoming tourists with painted murals.

"I thought this is something which could work in Bodvalenke," she told AFP, where she was "astonished by the poverty and despair when I visited it for the first time,"

The village of Bodvalenke rubs up against the border of Slovakia in a often-neglected corner of Hungary, one of the poorest parts of the European Union.

Formerly a centre of heavy industry during the communist era, the area has for many years been characterised by high unemployment, deep poverty and tensions between the Roma and non-Roma communities.

Almost all of Bodvalenke's 200 inhabitants are Roma. Nationally Roma make up Hungary's largest ethnic minority, numbering around half a million or five percent of the total population.

Parts of the village have no running water, and most people rely on social welfare payments to survive.

Pasztor's initiative looks however to be giving a ray of hope through the medium of art.

With the help of donations from individuals and the corporate sector, as well as some state aid, 29 vivid and richly painted frescoes now adorn the outer walls of houses in the village.

"On the one hand it combats widespread anti-Roma prejudice and exclusion, on the other it gives people a little chance of escaping from poverty," Pasztor says.

The paintings portray songs and scenes from Roma folk tales and mythology, as well as aspects of Roma culture and lifestyle such as music and migration.

Last year, they drew around 3,500 tourists, many during the Festival of Dragons weekend of music, now in its fourth year.

During the festival, held each July, local guides explain to visitors the meaning of the figures and symbols in the paintings.

"The walls tell some very nice stories and have a special symbolism which we don't normally get to hear about," says Peter Boros, who lives nearby and took his family to see the murals.

"It's very important to increase awareness of this culture, the abundance of colour, the people and the atmosphere," he says.

The village has little proper tourist infrastructure, no accommodation or restaurants, so local people prepare food and drink for the weekend.

Katalin Egri, a 55-year-old local Roma, says she can earn as much selling homemade cakes in front of her house during the weekend as she receives in her monthly social welfare payment.

"Before this was just a simple poor village like many others but now every year we can earn some money because of the festival and the wall paintings," Egri says.

People have more hope now, she adds, and as they have more pride in the village, take better care of it now than before.

Local children may be the biggest winners from the frescoes however.

There is no school in Bodvalenke so children have to travel to other villages and towns. According to Pasztor this was one reason they lacked confidence and received poor grades.

Since the art project began, however, some 15 local pupils have received different scholarships to help with their studies.

"Children see the results of hard work and creativity, and talented people coming into the village, and I think many have been inspired," she says.

© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

Today's News

July 24, 2013

Mexican paleontologists recover the only complete dinosaur tail ever found in Mexico

Seven sculptures by the Swiss-born American artist Carol Bove on view at MoMA

Eddie Gaedel's bat, used in MLB's most famous stunt, readies for sale at Heritage Auctions

Spanish dig in the caves of Atapuerca seeks prehistoric ancestors of Europeans

Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft presents The 7 Borders, an exhibition mapping Kentucky's regional identity

Rarely seen Beatles photos from 1964 to be exhibited at David Anthony Fine Art

Doug Aitken designed train turned kinetic sculpture will tour the United States

Straight Lines in Five Directions: Group exhibition opens at Garvey/Simon Art Access

Exhibition presents rare, unique, and unusual selections from the forty year collection of Stephen Cohen

Taymour Grahne Gallery to open its doors in New York with exhibition of work by Nicky Nodjoumi

London's National Portrait Gallery hosts first private view just for young people

Summer 2013 exhibitions at Laguna Art Museum include installations with a twist

Scottish National Portrait Gallery opens exhibition of powerful new paintings by Ken Currie

Frescoes bring tourists, hope to Roma village

The Saturday Evening Post gets warehouse chic in seven thriving art enclaves

Knoxville Museum of Art announces major gift

Amanda Ross-Ho transforms MCA Chicago's plaza into an open air photo studio

Joan Danforth Gift, NEH Grant Endow Asian Art Curatorship at Allen Memorial Art Museum

Expo Chicago: Northern Trust to donate artwork to Art Institute of Chicago

Innovation in the art industry: A new tool set to change the way people buy and sell art

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- Boy and an amateur archaeologist unearth legendary Danish king's trove in Germany

2.- Exhibition at The Met illustrates what visitors encountered at The palace of Versailles

3.- Philadelphia Museum of Art opens "Modern Times: American Art 1910-1950"

4.- Exhibition at Michael Hoppen Gallery presents a cross-section of works from Thomas Mailaender's career

5.- New York's Chelsea Hotel celebrity door auction raises $400,000

6.- Stevie Ray Vaughan's first guitar drives Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Auction to nearly $2.9 million

7.- Lichtenstein's Nude with Blue Hair tops $2.4 million sale of Modern & Contemporary Prints & Multiples

8.- $6.7 million Fancy Intense Blue Diamond sets auction record at Sotheby's New York

9.- Mexico court blocks sales of controversial Frida Kahlo Barbie doll

10.- Dutch museums to conduct new research on the paintings of Pieter de Hooch

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful