The Tomb Prize of the Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt aims to bring art and craft together

Cover page of the 2023 tomb price brochure.

The aim is to focus citizens’ attention on “individual and high-quality grave markers”

The cemetery commission of the Swiss canton of Basel-Stadt awards an annual prize that honors exemplary tombstones in the Hörnli cemetery in terms of craftsmanship and artistry. The initiative has existed since 1966 and awards are given to grave markers from the past two years. The aim is to focus citizens’ attention on “individual and high-quality grave markers,” as the documents state. In addition, “it should be an encouragement for the relatives to develop an idea in dialogue with the sculptors that is similar to the design of the deceased person.”

The aim is to bring art and craft together to make the mourning process easier for those affected and to keep their memory of the deceased alive.

This year, the commission’s jury included a stone sculptor, a wood sculptor, a freelance visual artist, and a sculptor/object artist. As usual, there were prizes for five gravestones; this year they were selected from 382 gravestones.

The city is taking the campaign seriously: the canton’s government councilor wrote the foreword to the brochure and emphasized that, in the face of the death of a loved one, there is a need for places “where it is possible to pause.“ And further: “A grave with a tomb can be such a place of final rest and familiar stability.”

She expressed her hope about the award-winning works: “Perhaps they will also serve as inspiration at the crucial moment.”

The canton maintains a gravestone advisory service that “will be happy to provide advice free of charge”.

We show the winning works and give short descriptions that are based on the jury’s comments.

City Gardening Canton Basel-Stadt (German)

Photos: Robert Adam, adamphotography

“Life is only a journey and not the destination“ is written on the gravestone. The theme of the journey is taken up by the birds depicted; the surface of the Italian basalt lava has the aura of calm in the sense of arrival. The lettering also conveys this impression. Sculptor: Zemp Natursteine und Bildhaueratelier.“Life is only a journey and not the destination“ is written on the gravestone. The theme of the journey is taken up by the birds depicted; the surface of the Italian basalt lava has the aura of calm in the sense of arrival. The lettering also conveys this impression. Sculptor: Zemp Natursteine und Bildhaueratelier.
 

The crouching woman made of Comblanchien limestone with a scraped surface appears to be deeply immersed in a book. Everything about her is round and at rest. In contrast to this is the pedestal on which the figure rests. Its material is Belgian granite with a polished surface and precise corners. Sculptor: Christopher Gut, Riehen.The crouching woman made of Comblanchien limestone with a scraped surface appears to be deeply immersed in a book. Everything about her is round and at rest. In contrast to this is the pedestal on which the figure rests. Its material is Belgian granite with a polished surface and precise corners. Sculptor: Christopher Gut, Riehen.
 

The stele is very simply designed and entices the viewer to pause and contemplate. The outer lines are not as straight as they appear at first glance, and the treatment of the surface carefully emphasizes the hardness of the coarse-grained sandstone. The choice of lettering and the placement of the dates express certainty and security. Sculptor: Markus Böhmer, Basel.The stele is very simply designed and entices the viewer to pause and contemplate. The outer lines are not as straight as they appear at first glance, and the treatment of the surface carefully emphasizes the hardness of the coarse-grained sandstone. The choice of lettering and the placement of the dates express certainty and security. Sculptor: Markus Böhmer, Basel.
 

A Maggia stone was laid on the cemetery meadow for the gravestone. The deceased was a font-designer - the large letter is symbolic of his work and his name was engraved in a light vein running across the stone. The date was omitted. Sculptor: Alessandro Rossi, sculptor's studio, Allschwil.A Maggia stone was laid on the cemetery meadow for the gravestone. The deceased was a font-designer – the large letter is symbolic of his work and his name was engraved in a light vein running across the stone. The date was omitted. Sculptor: Alessandro Rossi, sculptor’s studio, Allschwil.
 

The beauty of simple forms defines this tomb. The two parts are simple cuboids, made of white Carrara marble at the top and beige Solothurn limestone at the bottom. They are recognizable as belonging together thanks to their uniform shape, the polished stone surface, and the information about the deceased at the top and bottom. Sculptor: Visions in Stone, Raphael Hilpert, Riehen.The beauty of simple forms defines this tomb. The two parts are simple cuboids, made of white Carrara marble at the top and beige Solothurn limestone at the bottom. They are recognizable as belonging together thanks to their uniform shape, the polished stone surface, and the information about the deceased at the top and bottom. Sculptor: Visions in Stone, Raphael Hilpert, Riehen.

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(27.03.2024, USA: 03.27.2024)