Helena Vogelsang Novak

Helena Vogelsang Novak (1962) graduated from the Faculty of Education at the University of Maribor, Department of History in 1984. Following her studies, she gained pedagogical experience by working with different target groups for several years. Since 1998, she has been employed at the Celje Museum of Recent History, where she works as senior museum educator. In 1999, she passed a professional examination for a museum worker at the Ministry of Culture (Directorate for Cultural Heritage). For many years now, she has been dedicated to reviving the only glass photo studio in Slovenia, which is a valuable example of our cultural heritage and the rich photographic legacy of the master photographer Josip Pelikan.

Among the Josip Pelikan's rich preserved legacy, the skylight studio presents us with painted backdrops with various portraiture motifs.

Taking a visual stroll down the backdrops and sceneries of the master photographer Josip Pelikan is accompanied by commentary supplied by the Celje Museum of Recent History’s senior educator and carer of Pelikan’s collection, Helena Vogelsang. Painted backgrounds with various motifs used by Pelikan in both portraying and in his everyday work in the studio represent a key part of the photographer’s heritage and are part of a permanent exhibition in a skylight studio. It is the only preserved example of a skylight photo studio from the end of the 19th century in Slovenia. Various backdrops enabled the portrayed person to be presented in a way that suited him or her best; e.g. raising their social status, being placed in a specific environment or in a different position than the person occupied in real life. This surely influenced the popularity of portraits made in the wet collodion technique by contemporary photographer Borut Peterlin. In this way, the photographer revitalised the importance of Pelikan’s backgrounds and renewed the interest in old analogue photography techniques as well as a comprehensive studio portrait experience, which today no longer holds a prominent place among photographic practices.

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