It started with women
Bredelar Abbey started life as a convent established in the early Middle Ages for religious sisters, the Premonstatensian nuns. The less than praiseworthy lifestyle of these women led to the convent being taken over just a few years later by Cistercian monks, in 1196.

Metals and art
Iron ore, copper and lead were being mined in the Bredelar region from as early as the 10th century. The monks worked the metals with increasing craftsmanship to create the beautiful objects we associate with the wealthy religious houses of the time. To this day local goldsmiths use the precious metals to create ornamental objects which can be seen throughout Sauerland.

Stone and statues
The municipality of Marsberg, of which Bredelar is a part, proclaimed 2001 as a year of art and culture. A street painters festival was organised and a symposium for stone sculptors, followed by symposia for wood sculptors and iron sculptors. Stone statues were made in the street, where members of the public were surrounded by great clouds of stone dust and the shriek of stone-cutting tools. All these activities attracted a great deal of media interest, and heated discussions took place on television and in the newspapers about the question of 'what is art?'. One particular statue caused a great deal of commotion in the small town: a stone torso of a pregnant woman, entitled Fruchtbare Erde ('fertile ground'). After centuries of iron monks, Marsberg had returned to the woman.

fruchtbare erdeFertile Soil, sculpture in Marsberg, Duitsland by Bernhard Mätthäs. Image: Dominik Schäfer

Our prelude exhibition in 2014 brings us back to a local tradition and to the message of the sculpture Fruchtbare Erde, pregnant with the future. No-one knows exactly what the future will bring, but that it is coming is clear for all to see.

Theme of the 2014 exhibition
protected beneath the skin, the future has already begun
The skin of the statue Fruchtbare Erde is stretched taut over the internal organs where new life is taking shape. This skin conceals the future, yet at the same time shows that the future is already here and will soon be revealed for all to see. The as yet invisible yet already ripening future forms the theme of the prelude exhibition which features a large number of female sculptors.

A sculpture is always an object with an outward surface, a skin enveloping the hidden features. The outward surface tells us something about the inner nature and provides a hint as to the core of the object. It is our first point of contact with a thing.

Women cherish their skin. They know how important it is, as a protective layer, a concealer of secrets and as an individual organ with its own power of attraction.
Kloster Bredelar was originally built as a convent for women.

A convent can also be seen as a skin. A skin that protects and conceals. A skin that frees its inhabitants from the world outside, from the obligations of marriage and pregnancy. Within the protective wall of the convent, new spiritual life is taking shape.