Get away from Wrocław and your gnomes, Katowice has Beboks! – The first news
Seeking to emulate the success of Wrocław’s Gnome Trail, Katowice found himself at the center of a similar initiative honoring the mythological “bebok”.
Thought to have been derived from ancient Silesian demonology, these strange creatures were later introduced into children’s stories to act as bogeymen. Small in stature, bad beboki would only prey on those of the same height or smaller.
Perhaps best described as a goblin-type individual, their portrayals often varied widely due to the Silesian habit of passing stories word to mouth rather than in cohesive written form.
As a result, their actual physique often differed depending on the source – according to some, the bebok was little more than a scruffy, shaggy man with his head half hidden under a pom-pom hat. Others, however, pictured the bebok as an evil, hairy black figure.
Most, however, agreed that the bebok would rarely be seen without a stick and bag with which to beat and kidnap stray children.
More recently, however, they have been completely redesigned by Grzegorz Chudy.
A former student of the Academy of Fine Arts in Katowice, the former teacher and musician then chose to devote himself to art full time and quickly gained attention for his imaginative watercolors.
Showcasing Silesian monuments against a background interspersed with surreal touches such as trams floating on hot air balloons, Chudy also introduced the bebok in his paintings.
Speaking to TFN, the artist explained, “It’s likely that these were created a long, long time ago to scare children and make them obey. The ones I started to introduce, mind you, are much more low-key – in fact, they’re quite friendly.
Rethinking their character with the help of his daughter, Chudy’s beboks could instead be found making snowmen, playing music, or crossing the road in the style of the Abbey album cover. Road.
Noted for their colorful, oversized shoes and large, innocent eyes, they quickly became a constant feature of his work.
“My daughter and I like to think that beboks only created ‘dark legends’ around them for people to leave in peace,” the artist added.
After being brought back into local consciousness through Chudy’s art (not to mention a range of soft toys, mugs, fridge magnets, and through his picture story books), the weird creatures are expected to now be popularized further via miniature models.
Unveiled Wednesday during a ceremony in the presence of Chudy and the mayor, two 40-centimeter-high figurines made their debut in front of the Galeria Katowicka.
“I designed them myself,” Chudy said, “and seeing that they would be placed outside a mall, I gave one of them a shopping bag.”
The mayor, Marcin Krupa, took the opportunity to remind the gathered onlookers that rubbing the noses of the characters would be a guarantee of luck. On a more serious note, Krupa hailed the action as a grassroots social initiative.
Due to be nominated later this month following a public competition run via social media, the couple are joining those already in the Nikiszowiec neighborhood where the artist has his studio.
Depicting a pickaxe wielding bebok – a reference to the region’s rich mining heritage – and another sitting on a windowsill sipping coffee outside a local cafe, the current harvest must be bolstered by the ‘more appear later in the year.
If things go as planned, another will appear in Nikiszowiec and another outside the nearby porcelain factory.
How the public reacts is another matter. While Chudy’s beboks were greeted warmly, memories remain of the catastrophic attempt to create a fairytale character trail in the city in 2016.
Featuring six figures from Silesian legend (including a bebok), and sponsored by Legendia theme park, these found themselves stolen or destroyed within days.
Redesigned in a heavier form, supposedly vandal-proof, these too soon found themselves disappearing from their mounts, only the bebok would have survived the gratuitous iconoclasm.