Bernadette’s Take #24

Invading Switzerland without elephants

Kurt Hutterli from Oliver B.C.

6078843_orig - CopyKurt Hutterli is trying to paint while his picture is taken and it takes ages to take the picture and his hand gets stiff. That is why the painting is not finished yet. (Photo

The Swiss born artist and writer Kurt Hutterli is so famous, he had to flee to Canada.

No, I exaggerate. But Kurt Hutterli (68) is a very versatile man who publishes books in Switzerland and has exhibitions of his art work in both countries.

Just recently, he worked together with Switzerland`s most famous clown Dimitri. He wrote a stage play for Dimitri´s theatre company and all 14 shows of “Centovalli-Centoricordi” were sold out!

100Valli-100Ricordi 132 (2) - CopyKurt Hutterli, the acclaimed author (left) with Dimitri (centre), the famous Swiss clown at the premiere of Hutterli’s play “Centovalli-Centoricordi”. Please note: Kurt is NOT getting married and the bride behind him is not his wife. (Photo Ronny Winkler)

How do you get to know a Swiss clown? You write a book, put a photo of the clown in there and send him a copy.
That is how Kurt befriended Dimitri in the seventies. (You could try it out with other celebrities. The only downside: You have to write the book first.)

Centovalli-Centoricordi Ensemble 2012 (2) - CopyThis is the cast of Kurt’s play. Can you see the guy on the very right with a shield that looks like a wash basin? You will read about him soon. (Photo Mona Caron)

I asked Kurt what the play was all about. Listen up, it starts with a fighter from ancient Carthage who is looking for his missing elephant in Switzerland (you remember Hannibal, a Punic Carthaginian military commander,
crossing the alps with elephants? Well, the person in the play was one of his fighters).
Note: One should also have elephants on a leash.

100Valli-100Ricordi 044 - CopyThis is famous Swiss clown Dimitri playing a fighter from Carthage looking for his elephant. But he is harassed by a Swiss train conductor who surely wants to see his Rail Pass. I guess. (Photo Ronny Winkler)

I wish I had had this great idea but in my last book, a journalist is not looking for her elephant but for a Canadian man. That is why clown Dimitri did not contact me but Kurt Hutterli because Dimitri loves elephants. He once performed as clown in Circus Knie, Switzerland´s most famous circus. And there he met elephants, of course.

No chance of meeting elephants at the Cirque du Soleil because it is a circus without animals. Which is a good thing.

Collage Weingott (2) - CopyNow what on earth is this supposed to be? I think it is art. The god of wine on the left. A Canadian town on the right. Got it?
No? It is the cover of Kurt’s new book “Wenn der Weingott nach Aurora kommt”. Which translates into “When the god of wine comes to Aurora”. Got it now? (Photo Kurt Hutterli)

The play is also about children from the
Swiss canton of Tessin who worked as chimney sweeps in Italy because they were so slender. A sort of child slavery. I hope the elephants invaded Italy and saved these poor children.

So I had to put an UPC (Urgent Phone Call) to Kurt Hutterli.

Kurt, are you famous in Switzerland?

I wouldn’t say famous but there are people who know me. I published several books and wrote stage plays. And I had exhibitions of my art work.

If you are successful in Switzerland, why would you emigrate to Canada in 1996?

My wife and I went on holiday to Canada and we visited the Okanagan Valley. We thought it would be a nice place to live. It was my dream to have my own studio and a garden with fruit trees. I have to share the fruit with deer and bears, though.

1699785_orig - CopyKurt Hutterli had to come to Canada to have a studio in an orchard because allegedly he has to eat a lot of apples while painting. (Photo

Do more people know you in Switzerland than in Canada?

Oh yes! I published my first book in Switzerland at the age of 18.

You might be forgotten in Switzerland when you live in Canada!

I certainly took a risk. But I was received well in British Columbia. The B.C. festival of arts accepted three of my objects in 1997. Since then, I have made nice contacts with members of the art group and I have had several exhibitions. But I am in Switzerland often.

How often?

Well, twice a year. I have grandchildren now. And I have lectures and meeting with publishers and exhibitions.

5047575_orig - CopyI think this is Kurt Hutterli and his wife scrambling in the alps – luckily without elephants. Painting by Kurt Hutterli, fed by lots of apples. (Photo

What a busy man! Did my phone call interrupt you in your work?

Yes, actually, you did. I am writing a book about my childhood in Switzerland and how it could have been if I had lived here in Canada.
When you emigrate to Canada, you bring your childhood with you, you don’t have a childhood in Canada.

You could also write a book about if you had not become a writer but a clown!

No, I could not be a clown, I am not talented for that!

Did the fighter from Carthage find his elephant in the end?

No, he goes back to Carthage, poor guy.

Have a look at Kurt Hutterli’s artwork:

His biography:

One of Kurt Hutterli’s exhibitions:

P.S. If you have an interesting story to tell or if you know an interesting person, write to us:

One response to “Bernadette’s Take #24

  1. I have known Kurt for a number of years here in Oliver and seen some of his art work. It is nice to read more about his work in Switzerland and see the pictures.

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