Back from a recent trip to Europe and I’ll try to sum up one of the most genuinely inspiring museum visits I had while there.
In Switzerland, we stopped by the Museum Sursilvan in the village of Trun. The museum has a permanent collection of original Alois Carigiet illustrations, as well as a few of his paintings, and I absolutely fell in love.
Alois Carigiet (1902–1985) was a Swiss illustrator, designer, and painter. He is best known for his children’s picture books set in the Alps, including Schellen-Ursli (A Bell for Ursli), Flurina, Zottel Zick und Zwerg, among others.
Carigiet’s story is incredibly moving. Seventh of eleven children, economic hardship forced his family to relocate from the quaint farm village of Trun to the larger town of Chur. While living in Chur, he quit secondary school and instead spent years working as an apprentice to a master draftsman, eventually moving to Zurich to work commercially as a designer and muralist.
Longing for the mountain life of his childhood, he eventually left his design business in Zurich and devoted most of his remaining years to the unimpeded village life in the Alps, living from the land, observing and drawing from nature. He also began illustrating children’s books on request of author Selina Chönz, eventually writing and illustrating his own children’s stories. Near the end of his life, he settled back in the hills of Trun where he was born.
He was awarded the inaugural Hans Christian Andersen Medal for children’s illustrators in 1966.
The Museum Sursilvan Cuort Ligia Grischa in Trun exhibits some of Carigiet’s original works and is definitely worth the journey if you are nearby. The museum itself is housed in a beautiful Baroque building with a fascinating history and collection of historical items, worth a visit on its own.