Masterpieces made from soapstone and serpentinite

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Sculptor Gedeon Regli, 32, is continuing a 350-year family tradition in Hospental

With his hair tucked under a black woollen cap, round spectacles, sinewy forearms and slender hands, Gedeon Regli uses hammer and chisel to create works out of soapstone and serpentine. His family's company Gotthard Serpentin und Specksteinwerke was founded in Hospental in 1671. The company today employs one other person aside from Gideon and his father.

Gedeon himself was initially unsure whether he wanted to join the family company, so he apprenticed as a carpenter and draughtsman. But he finally settled on sculpture, as it combines all the skills he is interested in.

 

Gedeon's dreams

Soapstone and serpentinite are mined at a quarry in Chamleten not far from Hospental. For Gedeon, this is a magical place and it is where for some years now he has been building his own house, which he intends to be a long-term project. Nonetheless, he plans to move in within the next couple of years. His ideas for the house, and the desire to implement them, are the motivation for Gedeon to continually develop his work.

In the winter, he works as a freelance sculptor, giving full rein to his creative impulses. His soapstone sculptures mean a lot to him. The summer, however, is about commercial work for the family firm: floors, kitchen worktops and tombstones. He is currently working on a soapstone oven for Andermatt's new healthcare centre.

In the summer of 2018, Gedeon partnered with Mari Russi and Lesley Pollock to open the Art87 gallery in Andermatt. The three of them had formed a company for the sale, promotion and management of art and culture in the Urserntal valley. Located in the centre of the village, the gallery's tall windows ensure a light-filled space that shows the exhibits off to their best advantage.

For its first year, the gallery will host a new exhibition every month, and Gideon's work has already been successfully shown. But he finds that it's not always easy to let go of the creations that are sold. Some of them he'd rather keep for himself, and every sale involves a certain amount of separation anxiety.

 

 

Rest and relaxation

As a contrast to his work, Gideon enjoys the peace of the forest. A hike to an out-of-the-way waterfall and a swim in a mountain lake restore his equilibrium. He can imagine one day emigrating, perhaps to Ireland, where he once spent four months learning the language. He recently came across a for-sale notice for a castle in Ireland at a surprisingly affordable price.

It's the kind of project that makes a sculptor's heart beat faster. But for the moment at least, he has too much going in in Hospental. Such as a 350-year family tradition.