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Svatava Vizinová
She lives amidst the nativities she loves at her Zábrdské Betlémy Crčche Museum in the Czech Republic

Svatava Vizinová amidst the crčches she loves in her home/Zábrdské Betlémy Museum in South Bohemia. (Photos courtesy Proffessor Karel Zimmermann.)

You open a large envelope to find not one, not two, but three beautiful nativities—and a wonderful letter from a woman you have never met, who's devoting her life to a paper nativity museum whose visitors "feel a beautiful warmth in their heart…"

A letter from a friend you have never met, sharing nativities—and sentiments—we love.

Dear Friend,
I am writing so late.

I was waiting for the return of my friend from Iceland to get your address.

Then I was waiting for the return of my other friend from Mongolia (he has a video camera and I wanted to make for you a record of my exposition...Well, he returned... without camera. I'll ask someone else for theirs, if it will possible, we'll see.

Well, something about me: I moved from the town to the country, to the mountains in the south of Czech Republic. I am living here for four years. I gave my notice at my job as a teacher. (A teacher in a special school for children. Before that i was working in a museum as a folklorist and librarian of old prints.)

I sold my flat and I bought a great old retirement home with a great hall. It was a great magnet for me—for my nativity scenes… dogs… thousands of books, pictures, music collections, and so on—in the countryside, surrounded by nature.

I have been living here for four years. From morning to night I am working cutting out cribs, little figures, cut polystyrene, glue on carton boxes, scissors, pins. And I am very happy.
My second hobby is painting on glass. It is a very old tradition in all of Europe, original pictures in museums are 100-200 years-old. Surely you know about what I am writing? I made many copies of old ones, Czech, Romanian, German. In past, these pictures were in every cottage: saints, patrons, owners of houses, nativity scenes, Pieta, etc. I want to return this technique to everyday life, that's why I'm teaching it to others. I have made about 600 pictures, it is my great life.

Teacher, Artist, "Museum" Director, Writer, Crčche Enthusiast, Svatava Vizinová with one of her glass nativity paintings.
So, in the hall on the floor are my nativity scenes in paper boxes, maybe plus or minus 570 pieces, all most from paper, 3-D, some from other materials (wax, stone, wood…). I prefer the paper ones.
On the walls are my pictures. Now I am painting, mostly "Bethlehem [Nativity] Scenes." (In this way are my both loves together.)

People are coming to my little "museum." It is private, but admission is free. Three-and-a-half years I have it open. Every day… To this day 2,291 people have come. They are here, sometimes, like little children, smiling, happy. They returned, sometimes having found a nativity scene, sometimes they want to know how to paint on glass, sometimes for the beautiful warmth they feel in their heart, sometimes to help me.

Now, during the holiday season, it is rather busy (34 people today), but autumn is quiet, calm. And so colorful! My second busiest season are the days around Christmas. From January, it is again "vacuum," until June.

I did not want income from my "museum."I realized my dream, "here and now." This is my personal "Walden Pond," but I must say: reality is more similar to two penmen (scribes) from G. Flaubert… [Smily face.] Some newspapermen came, but they made some mistakes in their articles…

And so did a school excursion, and a bus full of a retirement home residents.many of them are smiling, sometimes I see tears. This theme is magic. Charming. Strong.

Yesterday a collector was here, Mr. Zimmermann, a Czech living in France. He saw my packet prepared for you: color nativity scene, the Kubasta pop-up crčche, and the Kubasta-inspired pop-up nativity. He promised me to send it to you on scanner-computer after his return to his French home. So I send you other little present…

I am 56 years-old, a working dreamer. I am living in very plain conditions. All days are a great pleasure for me.

Probably in September I'll have a computer, then I'll send you email. I must learn it, it is new for me. (Are you smiling now?) I am not afraid: at 51, I got my driver's licence, it was hard! Computer is al little thing… I'll see.

Stars shimmer against a bright blue sky in this modern edition of a vintage nativity, a present from Svatava Vizinová.
Zábrdéis a little village, ±50 people. No church, no school, no post, no pub! No bus, no train. No shop. But beautiful part of the universe. Calm. Quiet. Peaceful.

But is is 7 kilometers Prachtice town, 7 kilometers to Hisinee = 7 kilometers to civilization.
If you'll sometime come, you'll be an uncommon, distinguished, guest. Take, please, this word as an invitation.

These are basic facts about me. You can use it. You can give my address to everybody you want. It is no problem for me. Many of my cribs I have in duplicate. I am prepared for exchange, with pleasure.

Write me (if you want, of course) what you prefer. I'd like to know what you have from Czech cribs, if you are looking for something.
Friend, please excuse my English. Many, many waters flow since my years of secondary school. There's a dust on my English.

So I wish you delight in your days.

Many regards,

Svatava Vizinová
Zábrdí 138421
p. Husinec
Czech Republic

Wer'e grateful to Karel Zimmermann, France, for getting us in touch with Svatava and for his wonderful photos, more of which we hope to include on the pages about Svatava's Zábrdské Betlém Museum. You'll enjoy browsing Svatava's ZÁBRDSKÉ BETLÉMY website where you'll see her "museum" and lots of its beautiful nativities and painted glass pictures.

© 2022

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