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Lechtal Tourismus - Christoph Moosbrugger

Ernst "Schnully" Schnöller

Ernst "Schnully" Schnöller is what you imagine an artist to be. The creative spirit from Elbigenalp is known beyond the Lechtal borders as a carver and sculptor. He doesn't mince words, says what he thinks and always leaves his mark on the Lechtal with his art. Many may not see much in a piece of wood. "Schnully", however, has the gift to make something wonderful out of it. He is primarily concerned with first working out the depths and structures even before the details.

We talked to Schnully and learned a lot of new things about him.


How did you get into carving yourself?
My father was already a carver - so it runs in our family. When my father was of "working age", there were not so many opportunities for work in the Lechtal. At that time the sons were on the farms and looked for a job as home workers. This was also the beginning of a carving school in Elbigenalp. The students were not trained as journeymen and masters, because it was simply tried to create jobs over the winter months as home workers. This is how carving became a tradition in Elbigenalp. My dad went into business for himself after a while and I was always in his carving shop as a child. I grew up so close to it that I didn't even think about what else I could do. It was always clear to me that I would continue this craft in my own way.

Simone Knitel_Lechtal natural handicraft

How did you find your own way?
In the past, profane things were often bought and the work was different. It was worked in series - there were mainly crucifixes, peasant reliefs and peasant figures. After 2 years of carving at my father's, I no longer enjoyed it and quit, but at the same time proposed to pay rent and wanted to become a commission carver. My father and I worked side by side for the next 15 years. At the beginning it was a bit difficult, but I also didn't have to earn that much to be able to cover my expenses. Over time, the orders became more and more and now I am largely covered with public orders. E.g. Ehrenberg Castle, Elmi's Magic Land, Lechweg, Geierwally Stage.

I am actually still wood carver, but I see myself more as a planner and artist & sculptor. I work not only with wood, but also carve ice figures on the Dachstein.

Life in the Lech Valley - Simone Knitel

Is there a work of art that makes you particularly proud?
Yes, the carved Geierwally stage on the banks of the Lech River a good 5 years ago. That was something completely different! Building scenery out of wood, using chainsaws, grinders and planes, but still keeping the look of carving was exciting. In our minds, it was like a carved nativity scene in large.

A few years ago we also created power places for the Auszeitdörfer (Kaisers, Gramais, Hinterhornbach, Boden, Bschlabs), I myself find them particularly beautiful & there I recommend all visitors to the Lechtal to stop by.

Do you also have a power place?
Yes, my favorite is in Madau with my friend's sheep & the place of silence in Bschlabs are my two personal power places, where I like to recharge my batteries!

You also work with other materials, don't you?
Yes, I work with many materials. I am a wood and stone carver. I also work a lot with snow and ice, and partly with metal, polystyrene and concrete.

Which material do you like to work with the most?
With all of them. Because it's the mixture that makes it! The variety is what attracts us artists!

Do you also have phases where inspiration is missing? If so, where do you get it again?
Of course there are also with me. I think these are the most important phases. Mozart already said "Everything is composed, it only has to be written". In winter I like to go skiing, or I do nothing at all and let my soul dangle. I bought a graphics tablet and I often draw on it together with my children - without pressure and without a goal, and often something really great comes out of it. Often I suddenly think to myself, yes, I can use that, that's what I was looking for!

That's probably why you can taste exactly these notes from his "Beaver & Angel Gin". Because the wild-growing botanicals such as the main ingredients of the beaver, angelica and juniper give this witty small-batch gin a strong and at the same time fresh aroma that captures the scent and energy of the Lech Valley.

Life in the Lech Valley - Simone Knitel

Now you have already told us that poverty was the original reason for the popularity of carving in the Lech Valley. Are there any other reasons?
It is definitely due to poverty. In the course of this, the carving school was founded at that time and it became bigger by itself in the course of time. Many people from German-speaking countries come here to learn this craft and to be trained as sculptors in 4 years. The school is very renowned. In the meantime there is another, private carving school in the Lechtal - led by Martin Geissler-Moroder and his father was brought to the Zillertal at that time to build up the first public carving school. Martin holds quite a few workshops in various artistic disciplines, such as woodturning, carving with chainsaw, sculpture, painting and much more.

What distinguishes the Lechtal from the rest of Tyrol in terms of carving art?
In terms of the art practiced and the offer not so much, but all the more in terms of training, because of the two schools in the Lechtal, we are in the lead.

Have you also had "bizarre" commissions?
I always find the ice carving assignment in the Dachstein glacier particularly cool, that's a bit crazy.

How can you find your crazy and less crazy works?
On the platform "allesistgestaltbar". This is an association of artists that has been around for 8 years now. We do everything here. Our motto is: "We are the best in things where we can do nothing!" You have to imagine it like this: We do a lot of things here that no one has done before, where there are also no references yet. We acquire a lot of knowledge and experience ourselves and also have to try out a lot. We often have to build our own tools first, make logistical plans and fiddle around a lot until we get the desired result. That's fun, of course!

Who else is part of this association?
We are sculptors, carpenters, locksmiths, photoshop artists, electricians - so everything is mixed! We just wanted to be able to offer everything - from planning to advertising film. We not only present our art here, but also acquire orders, especially because we can offer an all-round package!

To get back on track: If you were to meet someone who had never been to the Lech Valley, how would you describe the Lech Valley & what makes the Lech Valley special for you?
The Lech Valley is very far away from the Inn Valley, which is something special ;) I often think we belong more to Bavaria than to Tyrol. But what shapes us above all is the Lech. There is only 1 time in Europe. Also the decelerated tourism is something that makes the Lechtal. I find the side valleys like Gramais, Madau, Hinterhornbach particularly beautiful. These are beautiful places for me. Someone who comes to the Lech Valley for the first time should definitely take a bike, ride along the Lech and occasionally venture into the side valleys.

Life in the Lech Valley - Ernst Schnöller

Can people also learn carving from you?
I used to give a lot of workshops, but now I rarely do. Now and then for regular customers or young people. I like to give the basics, but you really have to learn it yourself. I can only pass on my know-how, but the real learning experience is something everyone has to do for themselves.

What do you find exciting about carving?
The beauty of the work is to see something that others don't see. The main work always comes before creativity. First you have to work out the depths and structures. At first you only have a piece of wood or a block of ice and a drawing or the idea in your head. Most people get caught up in the details right away, but it's important to start with the rough structure. That's what I find so exciting, the mix of the technical and the creative process.
The best part for me is often improvising, because (especially with larger jobs) you often only get so far with models and planning and then it's a matter of being flexible and adapting to the circumstances.

Schnitzerei Schnully




Anja Ginther

von Anja Ginther

May 03, 2023


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