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NOVÁ PERLA : A PLACE OF FREE THOUGHT AND CREATION
News from the Czech Mordor
Nová Perla is growing up in the valley of Křinice creek that divides two mountain ridges, Krušné hory and Lužické hory in the meeting-point of three countries – the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland. This place is located among natural parks in the region of most dramatic geological and human history of Europe. For hundreds of millions of years, masses of rocks struggled with the elements on its way through the Earth’s crust and thus created the breath-taking countryside of the Czech and Saxon Mordor. This fight, however cast the spell on human tribes living on the hardened crust and in the following hundreds of years the tribes pushed against each other to win this long, folded belt between two great fertile plains. And right here Nová Perla found its home in a hundred years old thread factory - a leftover of a great wave of German industrialization of which only little remains to this day. German population and the reminders of its technical and architectonic modernity were smitten by the post-war anger of the Czech people – it was a revenge for their pre-war expulsion from the Sudeten and for starting an outrageous war. Of course, the story is much more complicated. The post-war development of the border region started with the Balkan plundering and the destruction of the reminders of the original population and went on in the absolutely unsuccessful forced population, moving various people to this region where hardly anyone feels at home. These new inhabitants now live in an un-historical world, they don’t understand the connection with the place they live in, and consequently they bring in the feudal character, unwittingly and purposefully at the same time. The ruins of the beginnings of modernity feel inappropriate. The factory faced demolition a few times.
Place for art, science and crafts
Nová Perla decided to save what has remained from the factory of Robert Solomon and to re-create the whole complex into an independent, self-sufficient international haven as an example to all those, who create and want to be part of creating in any way.
Creation is not work, operation, production or manufacturing. Our concept of creation is a free continuation of the “big work”, blending of culture, art, considerateness and thirst for freedom.
As in the previous project of Nová Perla in Vrané and Vltavou, here too we connect creators of all forms of visual art, authors of literature, theatre and film, representants of various science fields and craftmanship.
Nová Perla is a gallery, a theatre and a cinema, a publishing and printing house, a library and a bookstore with a park and a garden.
Nová Perla has its origins in the Divus publishing house and is growing under its support. The idea of this experiment comes from thinking that was being formed in decades of active working of its editing accomplishment, published books, magazines Divus and Umělec and in cooperation of the international association of theoreticians and artists of Eastern Alliance association. In this participated many outstanding personalities of art, literature and science, who according to their field of profession always supported independence of creative, scientific and critical approaches as this is the only way to reach the truthful information about the world. Nová Perla will always be independent and its activities will always support freedom of expression and tolerance. To ensure that Nová Perla doesn’t have to bow to pressure and interests, Divus and friends have bought the complex of the factory. What is very important for long-term sustainable independence is self-sufficiency.
The concept of self-sufficiency of Nová Perla also comes from the experience of its founders. Its main sources come from the combination of art, science, crafts and unique production in one place surrounded by nature.
Nová Perla is a gallery offering residential studios, a publishing house with a printing and graphics studio, a bookstore and a restaurant in the middle of a park and garden. There are three sources of drinking water, it uses alternative renewable sources, aims towards total recycling and zero-waste operation.
Nová Perla cooperates with local initiatives or companies on the basis of partnership and exchange of services and products and aims at covering most of its needs through non-financial ways. We want to spread friendship and helpfulness because this is the only way how to successfully prepare the ground for realization of such a unique vision in human society. We understand that to be self-sufficient we need to use natural resources and that is why we are responsible for our behaviour towards nature and we support the local eco-system through public education and active conservation.
Other financial sources of the operation of Nová Perla are the incomes from Divus publishing house, cafeteria Perla, bookshop, renting of studios, gallery space and residential studios and other common inside and outside spaces in the time when these are not used by guest authors or our own programme.
Nová Perla is to become a place of meeting for world authors and professional with a unique initiative in the middle of an iconic architectonic complex and landscape. As a temporary or permanent, but mainly a safe haven for creators from all over the world, and a free platform for presenting their work and ideas. To success in this intention we use an international circle of co-operators of Divus publishing house and the association of Eastern Alliance that have years of experience with spreading science and culture in many languages all around the world.
Nová Perla has an area of approximately 6 thousand square metres. It consists of two buildings, a factory house and a commercial house, both neighbouring with a road on the east side. Part of the complex is a big factory courtyard, surrounded by a forest and a meadow which is crossed by the Křinice creek, where it creates a natural western border of Nová Perla.
The factory – the Lighthouse
In the main iconic building of Nová Perla which was built around 1910, a gallery, residential studios and printing house are under construction. The tower of the factory gives the impression of a seaside manor with a lighthouse. In the place of the interconnecting extension – the once steel warehouse – will be a spacious winter garden. The main building can be entered through the eastern entrance from the street, through the south one via winter garden and two western entrances, by the door from the tower and a gate from the printing house that lead to the courtyard.
The gallery is on the top floor, the residential studios are on the lower floor and both get a wonderful light from tens of huge windows, looking out into the nature on both sides. The gallery with technical facilities offers 300 square metres of exhibition space that can be further divided by mobile walls. The gallery will use also the courtyard and the park for exhibiting of sculptures, installations and large-format projections. Both places will also be used for theatre, cinema, lectures and community meetings.
The studios can be modified with the help of mobile walls and thus create a space of size ranging from a few tens to a few hundreds of square metres. The common facilities and equipment of each studio will offer all the necessary conveniences for artists, but also for writers, theatre authors and other people who need to concentrate on their work in a calm and inspiring place. From the floor of residential studios there will be an entrance into the winter garden.
The visitors and inhabitants of Nová Perla can use a spacious terrace on the roof of the factory, also a pool on the top of the tower that will be created from the previous water tank and they can also watch the beautiful countryside from the viewpoint above it.
On the ground floor is a printing house for the needs of the publishing house and a small carpenter’s workshop which can be used by the residents but also by anyone from the public. The printing house has a silk-screen printing, letterpress, offset and other machines of various technologies that are meant mainly for a short-run printing of high-quality prints on various materials which need craftsmanship and have a great artistic value. In the graphics workshop can be created prints with any classical or modern graphics techniques. The carpenter’s workshop will be a place for sculpture and crafting creations. In both workshops anyone can get professional help and assistance.
Shop – White House
In the object of the former shop is already a cafeteria with a terrace, a bookshop, a library, an editorial office, a studio and two flats. This part of Nová Perla is a square building, founded between the two world wars, reconstructed in the 1980s into a massive building with gabled roof. Inside was a selling area, attic apartment and a spacious preparation room, two warehouses and supply ramps.
The cafeteria offers a range of drinks of local origin and food prepared from the products of local farmers and growers. The kitchen is large and well equipped and prepares fresh and healthy meals without chemical ingredients and processed food.
In the library and bookstore one can read or buy books and magazines of Divus publishing house in various languages, along with books of other selected publishing houses and publications about the region and its history.
The editorial team of the Divus publishing house publishes – except for its usual edition plan – also a quarterly newspaper “Perla” with the cultural programme of the gallery, cinema, theatre and other events accompanied by visual documentation, articles and excerpts of literature.
Studio Divus offers - along with work of its own publishing house - all publishing, editorial and graphic services for public. An assisted help in using the graphics workshop is available.
In cooperation with local and foreign professionals, Nová Perla is planning to cultivate the wild vegetation. Our aim is to create a cultivated park, the swampland that was created by the drainage of wells and sources will be changed into a small pond with a pier. We will also plant new trees and bushes. The main part of the park will consist of native trees and plants, the plan is to add some species that are suitable for local climate. The park will become a small botanical garden.
The garden and the winter garden of Nová Perla are an important source of our own fruits, vegetables and herbs and thus support our self-sufficiency and independence. The products will be used in the cafeteria and the surpluses will be offered to people in the neighbourhood. The garden will use native, local and resistant crops. The winter garden will serve to supply the crops that need a constant climate.
Sources, energies, savings and zero-waste management
Nová Perla has three sources of drinking water. There are two wells, each in every building and one 150 metres deep well that is filled by water from granite bedrock. To water the gardens, Nová Perla uses rainwater gathered in open and covered tanks and the cleansed wastewater (using biodegradable chemicals).
The machines of Solomon’s factory were powered by water. There is nothing left of the sophisticated system of transmissions, shafts and the paddle wheel, but there is still a mill-race whose winter flow rate is good enough to propel a turbine of up to 50 kW. This is sufficient to bring light and heat in autumn and spring, in winter months the heating will be supplied up to 50%.
The new roof of the factory can carry solar panels and the minimum placing this will cover the summer consumption of light and water pumps.
In Nová Perla we will recycle two types of wastewater. Thus, the drainage will be divided into two drainage systems – two sewage installations. One will gather the water used in all kinds of monitored washing. Monitored washing follows using easily disposable cleansing products and in all the places used for this system there will be appropriate washing substances at hand. The visitors will not be allowed to use their own chemicals. This wastewater will flow into the root zone sewage treatment plant and used to water the garden and the park. The second system will gather the water from the toilets. This will be treated in our own biological water treatment plant, the water will be periodically tested and also used for watering.
Nová Perla aims at total zero-waste operation and therefore we resist to using any disposable or hard-to-recycle packaging. All the products of Nová Perla and its packaging are based on paper, natural textiles, metal or wood.
Nová Perla is a revolution of an example. It is a vision growing out of dreams, gifts and efforts of last decades, of thousands of hours of voluntary work of friends and supporters. Nová Perla is bound to never give up.