The Štěpán Zavřel Foundation is like a slender yet strong silk thread connecting Sàrmede to the rest of the world. Thanks to its work, every year this corner of Italy becomes a fantastical place, where imagination is a right to be exercised, taught and learned. The foundation is the result of Zavřel ’s dreams, and of his desire to transform Sàrmede’s creative experience into a legacy for the future, focussing on the artistic and educational value of the illustrated book. Two little plants have sprouted from this seed: the exhibition and the school. Both have their roots in a dream and both are growing through the years, turning the little corner of the world where they first blossomed into a continuous source of creativity, imagination and collective learning.
The first blossom is the International Children’s Book Illustration Exhibition Le immagini della fantasia, which attracts more than 22,000 visitors each year. The central aim is to engage, train and educate, and that is why every year the exhibition is accompanied by workshops and other activities involving thousands of children, teachers, educators and parents.
The other blossom further incarnates the educational spirit that characterised the Bohemian artist: it is the International School of Illustration, founded in 1988 by Zavřel himself. Every year, more than 500 students choose Sàrmede to develop their professional career or to follow their passion.
With the same passion that animates those who come to Sàrmede from all over Italy and the world, the foundation works to keep Zavřel’s art and dreams alive, promoting studies, research, conventions and publications.
Education is a fundamental aim for the foundation, and this is why it has been awarded the prestigious Andersen Prize twice: in 2010 for promoting the diffusion of books and reading, and in 2012 for the book In the woods of Baba Yaga, Russian fairy-tales, published in collaboration with Franco Cosimo Panini. Another central element for the foundation is the spirit of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which focuses on recognising children’s rights as fundamental ethical principles, prioritising children in disadvantaged situations.
The Štěpán Zavřel Foundation is supported by and collaborates with the Veneto Region, the Province of Treviso and Sàrmede Town Council.
Illustration by Štěpán Zavřel, in “Il ritorno di Ario”, Quadragono libri (detail)