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  "name": "From Outcast to Artist, a Personal Journey",
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Kaya Sulc, 87, has painted and sculpted for more than 40 years but his magnificent works have never been exhibited\n to the very community in which he has lived for four decades.

\n

Quiet now and slowed by age, Kaya is soft spoken and gentle; a stark contrast to the raucous, adventurous life he led after fleeing his home country of\n Czech Republic more than 50 years ago.\n
\n

\n

Life in Czech throughout the mid-century is often referred to as the “Nightmarish 1950s” marked by purges, trials and mass executions.After the coup in\n 1948, Czech citizens began to live under totalitarian rule with those who didn’t comply with socialism often interrogated, intimidated, put under surveillance\n and subjected to house searches.\n
\n

\n

Before this time, Kaya’s father had been accused of being a capitalist and Kaya was refused entry to University based on his family history and involvement\n in anti-government protests, but as Kaya says “I was 18, what did I know of politics?”\n
\n

\n

A rule at the time forced students to perform manual labour for the country throughout the school holidays. Kaya and his friends were lucky enough to be\n stationed in one of Czech’s many dense forests that surrounded the border, tasked with measuring the density of the forest.\n
\n

\n

What some may recall as a horrendous time of totalitarian rule, Kaya’s youth meant he viewed the work as a few weeks spent with pretty girls, measuring\n trees and flirting in the forest. Despite this, Kaya and three of his friends made the decision to flee the country.\n
\n

\n

“It was all a bit of fun. But we were right on the border of Bulgaria and one of these days we decided we have to escape,” he says.\n
\n

\n

“We didn’t have to, but we told ourselves we had to otherwise they will come after us. We crossed over to occupied Germany.”\n
\n

\n

What ensued was a cross-country adventure for this motley crew who were ordered to peel potatoes in a refugee camp kitchen, were chased by police dogs,\n arrested and jailed in Germany for 10 days.\n
\n

\n

Kaya and one friend eventually found their way to France where they lived in Paris and worked in the north of France for a year before the opportunity\n came for Kaya to migrate to Australia.\n
\n

\n

Once on the shores of Australia, Kaya found himself living in a refugee camp again but this time he was able to indulge his passion for art by painting\n street scenes for the local theatre company in Albury.\n
\n

\n

“I started to paint street settings for a group of drama performers. I was doing it while I was working in the camp as a kitchenhand and at first it wasn’t\n allowed,” he recalls. “I was not allowed to use the heaters but I put them on anyway because the scenes needed to dry.\n
\n

\n

“The director of the camp had to come and sort me out and the next thing I knew I was kicked out of the camp.”\n
\n

\n

Kaya travelled to Melbourne where he again painted stage settings which led him right back to Albury where he met his wife and future muse, Helen.\n
\n

\n

After a few years spent living in the Blue Mountains, Kaya and Helen made their way to Cooroy where they lived for 40 years before Helen passed away over\n seven years ago. Throughout his time in Australia, Kaya painted, sculpted, taught and sold his art throughout the country.\n
\n

\n

When recalling his youth spent fleeing communist Czech, Kaya maintains he was young and ignorant to complex political issues, but the many sculptures he’s\n created since are deeply political and tackle issues such as date rape and over-population.\n
\n

\n

“Some of the issues I have dealt with are so urgent and they are crying out to be expressed in a creative way,” he says. “Sculpture is particularly monumental.\n I feel it needs a more serious subject.”\n
\n

\n

When it comes to painting, Kaya has an extensive catalogue of works, most of which depict his wife in ordinary scenes of daily life, capturing not only\n her essence but the quintessential Queensland lifestyle.\n
\n

\n

“Painting I find much more intimate, much more direct, much more emotional,” he says.\n
\n

\n

“My paintings are a bit more lighthearted. I see them as more or less showing scenes from life but a scene that has been observed through the filter of\n memory then reassembled.”\n
\n

\n

Kaya says Helen was the first and most important critic of his works, sharing her direct opinions about his latest creation even though it could often\n lead to arguments.\n
\n

\n

“I respected her opinion very much. I accepted her opinion so long as it agreed with mine,” he jokes. “She liked my work but she was prepared to tell me\n what was wrong with it, too. But, very often I found out after some time that she was right.”\n
\n

\n

Interestingly, despite his many years of painting his wife, Helen never aged on the canvas, remaining timeless and youthful.\n
\n

\n

“Yes, she was always the same but actually I found out only after she passed away, looking back through the photographs, I noticed that she actually did\n age and change but I didn’t notice it,” he says. “She was a great lady.”\n
\n

\n

Determined to exhibit the works of this great artist, Butter Factory Arts Centre coordinator Alicia Sharples has cleared the gallery’s calendar to host\n a special exhibition of Kaya’s works. Over 60 paintings and sculptures will be showcased in As Time Goes By from Friday 11 May to Tuesday 19 June.\n
\n

\n

The official opening of As Time Goes By will be held on Thursday 10 May from 6-8pm and everyone is welcome to attend and meet the artist. The Butter Factory Arts Centre is located at 11a Maple Street, Cooroy.

\n

 

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Nestled in the picturesque hills of Cooroy surrounded by bushlands and the sounds of nature lives one of the region’s most prolific yet unknown\n artists.

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From Outcast to Artist, a Personal Journey

Nestled in the picturesque hills of Cooroy surrounded by bushlands and the sounds of nature lives one of the region’s most prolific yet unknown artists.

Kaya Sulc, 87, has painted and sculpted for more than 40 years but his magnificent works have never been exhibited to the very community in which he has lived for four decades.

Quiet now and slowed by age, Kaya is soft spoken and gentle; a stark contrast to the raucous, adventurous life he led after fleeing his home country of Czech Republic more than 50 years ago.

Life in Czech throughout the mid-century is often referred to as the “Nightmarish 1950s” marked by purges, trials and mass executions.After the coup in 1948, Czech citizens began to live under totalitarian rule with those who didn’t comply with socialism often interrogated, intimidated, put under surveillance and subjected to house searches.

Before this time, Kaya’s father had been accused of being a capitalist and Kaya was refused entry to University based on his family history and involvement in anti-government protests, but as Kaya says “I was 18, what did I know of politics?”

A rule at the time forced students to perform manual labour for the country throughout the school holidays. Kaya and his friends were lucky enough to be stationed in one of Czech’s many dense forests that surrounded the border, tasked with measuring the density of the forest.

What some may recall as a horrendous time of totalitarian rule, Kaya’s youth meant he viewed the work as a few weeks spent with pretty girls, measuring trees and flirting in the forest. Despite this, Kaya and three of his friends made the decision to flee the country.

“It was all a bit of fun. But we were right on the border of Bulgaria and one of these days we decided we have to escape,” he says.

“We didn’t have to, but we told ourselves we had to otherwise they will come after us. We crossed over to occupied Germany.”

What ensued was a cross-country adventure for this motley crew who were ordered to peel potatoes in a refugee camp kitchen, were chased by police dogs, arrested and jailed in Germany for 10 days.

Kaya and one friend eventually found their way to France where they lived in Paris and worked in the north of France for a year before the opportunity came for Kaya to migrate to Australia.

Once on the shores of Australia, Kaya found himself living in a refugee camp again but this time he was able to indulge his passion for art by painting street scenes for the local theatre company in Albury.

“I started to paint street settings for a group of drama performers. I was doing it while I was working in the camp as a kitchenhand and at first it wasn’t allowed,” he recalls. “I was not allowed to use the heaters but I put them on anyway because the scenes needed to dry.

“The director of the camp had to come and sort me out and the next thing I knew I was kicked out of the camp.”

Kaya travelled to Melbourne where he again painted stage settings which led him right back to Albury where he met his wife and future muse, Helen.

After a few years spent living in the Blue Mountains, Kaya and Helen made their way to Cooroy where they lived for 40 years before Helen passed away over seven years ago. Throughout his time in Australia, Kaya painted, sculpted, taught and sold his art throughout the country.

When recalling his youth spent fleeing communist Czech, Kaya maintains he was young and ignorant to complex political issues, but the many sculptures he’s created since are deeply political and tackle issues such as date rape and over-population.

“Some of the issues I have dealt with are so urgent and they are crying out to be expressed in a creative way,” he says. “Sculpture is particularly monumental. I feel it needs a more serious subject.”

When it comes to painting, Kaya has an extensive catalogue of works, most of which depict his wife in ordinary scenes of daily life, capturing not only her essence but the quintessential Queensland lifestyle.

“Painting I find much more intimate, much more direct, much more emotional,” he says.

“My paintings are a bit more lighthearted. I see them as more or less showing scenes from life but a scene that has been observed through the filter of memory then reassembled.”

Kaya says Helen was the first and most important critic of his works, sharing her direct opinions about his latest creation even though it could often lead to arguments.

“I respected her opinion very much. I accepted her opinion so long as it agreed with mine,” he jokes. “She liked my work but she was prepared to tell me what was wrong with it, too. But, very often I found out after some time that she was right.”

Interestingly, despite his many years of painting his wife, Helen never aged on the canvas, remaining timeless and youthful.

“Yes, she was always the same but actually I found out only after she passed away, looking back through the photographs, I noticed that she actually did age and change but I didn’t notice it,” he says. “She was a great lady.”

Determined to exhibit the works of this great artist, Butter Factory Arts Centre coordinator Alicia Sharples has cleared the gallery’s calendar to host a special exhibition of Kaya’s works. Over 60 paintings and sculptures will be showcased in As Time Goes By from Friday 11 May to Tuesday 19 June.

The official opening of As Time Goes By will be held on Thursday 10 May from 6-8pm and everyone is welcome to attend and meet the artist. The Butter Factory Arts Centre is located at 11a Maple Street, Cooroy.

 

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