NONOS: Inside the Studio at the Residence Wellenstein
Article by Caroline Haller
16 years ago, sisters, Mercedes and Franziska Welte started working together in a small attic of their old house. Though they were both artistic in their own right, they decided to work together on their art. The two merged their streams of thought and inspiration, creating what they call a “dance of emotions” together through their sculptures, objects and pictures. Eventually, they decided to refer to their art as art by NONOS, a well-kept secret name that is still a mystery today!
Their current studio inspires them daily and why wouldn’t it! Since 2018, the sisters work out of a 450-year-old property, the Residence Wellenstein on Lake Constance in Lochau. In the baroque hall of this fantastic estate, they create their hand-crafted, hand-bent metal sculptures. Their abstracted works are created with a unique variety of materials. For instance, they use carbon, fiberglass, metal, epoxy resins and light fast pigment. For instance, Traces in the Sand, features a lightweight carbon and resin mixture which makes this large sculpture deceivingly light. (Figure 1)
Figure 1. NONOS, Traces in the sand, Carbon, Resin, Pigments, 60 in diameter, 2021
Another recent series of works include their female sculptures. The figures come alive with movement and color. The sisters note that their sculptures “combine pure joie de vivre with aesthetic eroticism, dynamic dance and extravagant sensuality.” (Figure 2)
Figure 2. NONOS. Female Sculpture
Their works are in hotels, offices and villas across Europe! Additionally, they have exhibited their works at the Giardini della Marinaressa in Venice during the 2019 Biennale and again this past year. NONOS sculptures have been exhibited internationally in Munich, Austria and Monaco, as well as at the Hamptons Fine Art Fair in New York and Context Miami in Florida.
Read on to find out more about the art that they create, their partnership and the “castle” they call home.
What is the process like from the initial idea to the creation of your sculptures?
We talk a lot about our creative work. Often a sculpture, or other work of art is created via a customer order. But mostly about an inspiration, or an upcoming exhibition.
We have started to realize whole housing projects for our clients. This includes, for example, a sculpture, a painting, and a wall object. We have a very diverse repertoire.
We work a lot and are always in a creative inspiration because of our permanent work.
Although you work in tandem with each other, are there unique elements from each of you in the pieces?
Franziska is the form language, and Mercedes is the color language. This means that Franziska starts with the form, and Mercedes finishes the work with the color.
Sometimes the processes are reversed, depending on what kind of work we are working on.
You have used steel, bronze, fiberglass, epoxy resins, and pigments to create you art. How do the materials help serve your vision?
With these materials we are very flexible in our work. We need pliable material, which we can best shape with our hands. Except bronze, we can shape all work by hand, and this gives us the greatest possible creativity.
Are there materials that you tried that didn’t work out as well or that you didn’t like as much?
Not so many … we have worked for many years with the same materials.
What role does movement and femininity play in your works?
These two aspects play a very important role.
We want to represent pure femininity in its lightness. The sensuality and the strength of these two aspects fascinate us.
Besides, men have dominated the history of art. It is therefore very important that there is also a strong female counterpart.
What is it like working from the 450-year-old Wellenstein estate on Lake Constance?
It is fantastic. The best studio there is. We have a direct view of Lake Constance. That is unique. We can work here in peace and quiet. We love this place.
What are your favorite things about working from your studio in the “Castle”?
It's just fantastic. We love it. It is one of the most beautiful places in Austria.
We can work very much outdoors. Grinding, painting and so on. We also have a sculpture park at our castle. And a small footbridge where we can paint expressive paintings outside in the summer.
Through our baroque hall, we also have the opportunity twice a year for a month to open our studio for exhibition purposes. Always in summer and winter.
This small castle offers us many possibilities.
How does the location play into the art you create there?
We are more creative here than in any other place. We create new works of art with new styles every year. Of course, our repertoire fits together perfectly.
We work very intensively on our creative work here.