I've just returned from a trip to these former Yugoslav states, nestled breathtakingly in the Dinaric Alps adjacent to the Adriatic Sea. The scars of the wars of independence are still surprisingly visible despite having occurred more than two decades ago. This was particularly poignant to me as I am exhibiting my first major piece of work in a few weeks time as part of Coastal Currents arts festival, the subject of which is my experience of The Troubles growing up in Northern Ireland.
Our driver Matteo tells us that the war was caused by the Serbs - they wanted to make a Serbian state. He is still visibly upset; he had to live in a basement for ten months whilst a child during the fighting. His girlfriend's father was killed. He drives us to Mostar past old cars, graffiti, bullet riddled bus stations and stark but beautiful mountains dotted with grey-white limestone. Cemeteries holding war victims abound. Peace is fragile Matteo tells us. We can see ourselves from the fact that villages are marked out by either Serbian or Croatian flags - a bid for territory reminding me uncomfortably of the red, white and blue kerbs I grew up with.
Mostar has a surprisingly Arabic feel; the area around the Old Bridge has the atmosphere of a Middle Eastern souk with throngs of people drinking Bosnian coffee from traditional vessels outside bustling street cafes on vividly patterned cushions. The Muslim call to prayer sings out, bouncing off the shrapnel pocked buildings and the virtually decimated ones that have yet to be rebuilt.
It's a strangely beautiful place and I am left wanting more.
My sculptural textile work 'Troubles and Strife' can be seen at 6 The Green, St Leonards from 1st September and throughout the period of Coastal Currents.
10/30/2022 12:09:53 am
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Janey grew up in Northern Ireland surrounded by guns and potatoes. Out of this conflicted experience she came to believe that there are three main important life lessons: freedom to express what lies within you is the ultimate gift; everything in this universe is connected; you must learn to accept that life is a great mystery. She has two sons called Finn and Paddy, and she enjoys taking them on adventures.