Jenny Zauser, 34, is a freelance artist, specialising in restoration work and the craft of gilding. She could really have gone anywhere in the world, she says. But then things turned out differently after all. Trisanna meets her in the chapel she’s restored, the Rotweg Kapelle in Kappl.
phOTOS: NIKO HAVRANEK
Jenny, you’re now back living in the house you grew up in. Does this surprise you?
Maybe a bit. I was in India and South America, both of which I liked very much. In the rural areas, they really do a lot of things in the same way as we do here. The difference is that it’s like time travelling. In India, for example, they work in the mountains like we did 60 or 70 years ago.
But you ended up in Kappl after all.
Because home is really something special. For me, home means family, the mountains, for me home means being together with the people here in the valley. The proof that it’s really a great place to live is my husband. He comes from South Tyrol but absolutely insisted on moving here to Kappl. And yes, I’m passionate about being here. I listened very closely to my inner voice, and then I decided to stay. We’ve taken on my parents’ house now, and I’m sure that it was exactly the right decision for us and our two boys (Ed. one three years old, one seven months).
What makes life in Paznaun so special?
It’s the little things: I go out of the house and am in the middle of nature. I don’t know to describe it exactly, but the Tyrol has a loveliness about it which I haven’t experienced anywhere else.
That’s what the tourists think, too – there’s always a lot going on in your area.
That’s true, I think what we’ve accomplished together here is great. But I also like to say that tourism isn’t everything. We have an off-season too, and you can see how beautiful Paznaun is then as well.
Most people in the valley work in tourism. Why did you get into restoration work?
I also worked for a while as ski instructor, for example. But to be honest, I didn’t quite know what I really wanted to do. So I just enrolled in the woodcarving school. It didn’t take long for me to realise that artistic work is what makes me happy and fulfilled.
You then specialised in gilding work.
I found it fascinating from the beginning. I was part of a team which restored the churches in Kappl and in See, which was a fantastic experience.
How does it feel to make something old shine as good as new again?
You understand for the first time how valuable an altar stone is, for example. And I’m not talking about financial value, but about how important these things were for people in the past, and how important they still are today. I really enjoy being able to preserve something old with my work. And also being able to let the memory of the past live again.
Do you think the old tends to be better than the new?
I am a very open and spiritual person. Tradition and culture are important, but when they are harmful, then something needs to change. There’s a straight, linear way, I think, which is more the old way – but there are also other ways. So the answer is yes and no. There are old things which we need to preserve. But we also need space for the new.