Another pencil sketch by Svend Keller, from August 9th, 1948. The caption reads “Neusalza Spremberg Reiterhaus”. Neusalza Spremberg is a village just at the border between Saxony and Czechia. This is where the father of Rolf Keller’s mother Gabriele Hünlich, Friedrich Wilhelm Hünlich, came from. Her mother, Rosa Plocek, was from Czechia.
So while the year before, Svend Keller had visited Heidmühlen where the ancestors of his mother came from, one year later he visited Neusalza Spremberg on the trail of his father’s ancestors, although the family was not from this particular house.
The Reiterhaus that is shown on the sketch, is today a local museum (see http://www.reiterhaus.de/). It was built in 1670. The name refers to the depiction of a horse rider fixed to one side. This is hardly visible on the sketch but if you know where it is, by comparing it with the pictures from the museum’s web site, you can see that it is at least hinted at on the sketch. This house was built in the style of “Umgebindehaus”. In such houses, the upper part of the house rests on the pillars at the side, while the rooms downstairs are not directly connected to it. Typically there are arches at the windows in order to carry the weight of the upper part of the house. One theory why these houses are built like this is that the noise of the looms that where typically operated in these houses would not be propagated upstairs so strongly, so people could weave while other members of the family were sleeping. Another advantage seems to be that this way of building leads to a relatively stable room climate which is also thought to be advantageous for weaving. However that might be, all of the known male ancestors of Friedrich Wilhelm Hünlich (from the Hünlich and Hempel families) had actually been weavers, although he himself was a clerk at a district court.
Six Generations later, my sister Christine returned to the profession of our Saxon ancestors and became a weaver (and textile designer and textile artist) again.
A pencil sketch drawn by Svend Keller on August 7th, 1947. The caption reads “Hof Hans Danker Heidmühlen” (farm Hans Danker Heidmühlen). Heidmühlen is a village in Schleswig Holstein, north of Hamburg and this is where the familie of Svend Keller’s mother Margarethe (“Grete”) Keller, née Danker, originally came from, so this is probably the farm or her ancestors. Grete Keller’s grandfather was called Hans Danker and this had probably been his house.
I don’t know if this house is still standing. It shows typical features of northern German 19th century farm houses. Similar houses can still be found in the area. Having a little garden with some fruit trees, currant and goosberry bushes, as well as some vegetables and herbs, was also quite typical.
Svend Keller, at this time, stayed with his grandmother and his aunt in Hamburg. Probably he went to Heidmühlen by bike. I don’t have any specific information on this, but one motivation for this trip might have been to try to get some additional food from the farmers since the supply situation in the years after the war was very difficult.
Nerve impulses running down the spinal cord, triggering muscle cells – mitochondria pumping protons and electrons to provide the energy to move a muscle. The muscle contracts and the fingertip touches the release button, triggering a cascade of electronic signals, calculations, movements of electromechanical parts, chemical reactions inside a battery, a shutter opening, photons flashing inside and triggering chemical changes in the particles of the film. A myriad of smallest and shortest events and processes combine to produce that short “click” that indicates that a picture has been taken. The photographer looks away and her mind and eye turn on something else.
A short moment in her life. The moment she pressed the trigger of her camera. Clouds, trees or bushes, houses, the horizon, the sun. Motion blur. Lens Flair.
The photograph was shot while in motion, maybe from a train or a car. The hexagonal spots of lens flair…
This pencil sketch (you can click on the image for a larger version) by Rolf Keller, drawn in his typical style, was part of a letter written to Svend Keller on June 19th, 1958. At this time, Rolf and Grete Keller were living in the center of Chemnitz (then called “Karl-Marx-Stadt”), but before, they had been living in Grüna, a village near Chemnitz (and today a part of it). Svend Keller had spent part of his childhood there. In the letter, written during an excursion to their old place, Rolf Keller starts the letter: “Grüna, June 19th 58 on the bench at the edge of the forrest with the view onto our appartment in Rabensteiner Str.” (“Grüna, 19.6.58 auf der Bank am Waldesrand mit Blick auf unsere Wohnung in der Rabensteiner Straße”).
The house in the middle is marked “Rabensteiner Str. 8″. This is the house where the Keller family had been living. On the left, a place in the background is identified as “Poltermühle mit Teich” (“Rumbling Mill with pond”). The other texts contain news as well as memories about the houses and the people who had been living there before.
If you compare this sketch with the Sheaves sketch I posted last year, you will note that it is showing nearly the same area, so that sketch is showing Grüna as well, probably from a point slightly further to the left (and probably years eralier). Note also that the house shown here probably provided the inspiration to the house on the third advent calendar in Advent Calendars 4 (compare the arc-like structure on the house in the sketchand on the advent calendar). The sketch shown in Harvesting Hay had been made from a balcony of the house in Rabensteiner Straße, in 1935.
I continue the series of animal studies by Svend Keller with another bird, this time a great egret. It is a pen (blue ink) and black chalk drawing, probably made in 1947 or 1948. It was made on a piece of drawing board, the size is 27 cm x 24 cm. On the same sheet there is a small pencil sektch showing two more birds. The caption gives the German name of the bird (“Silberreiher”) and the scientific name then in use (Egretta alba alba, i.e. the European subspecies. Today the species is more commonly called Ardea alba). The birds develop the long tail feathers shown here during the breeding season.
I am currently transcribing letters written by my grandparents in the 1950s and 1960s. It is an interesting experience. My grandfather was a graphic artist and there is also an artist’s estate, see https://kellerdoscope.wordpress.com/, containing both commercial and non-commercial works. The letters shed some light on some of these things. They provide a glimpse into how life was in those days in the East Germany, from the unique point of view of an artist.
The letters are interesting as a piece of family history but are, in their entirety, also an interesting historical document of more general interest. I am following here in my mother’s footsteps who already transcribed hundreds of letters from other branches of the family, as well as other documents that have been preserved, and she is still doing so. By accidents of history, a large body of such material has survived in our family. It…