Category Archives: public art

Tjentište and the Battle of the Sutjeska

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Sutjeska River, Bosnia

In May 1943, during the Second World War, the Battle of Sutjeska took place in this nationally revered place. By all accounts, this was a most extraordinary, but phyrric victory for the Yugoslav Partizans, led by Josp Broz Tito. Axis forces totalling over 120,000 were held for some weeks by a force of a little over 20,000 partizan troops of the Yugoslav National Liberation Army. This stalemate ultimately contributed to enabling the Yugoslav forces to drive the Axis troops out of Eastern Bosnia.

I did not find out till I got home, that Richard Burton played the part of Tito, in the movie Sutjeska , made in 1973. I mean to watch it!

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View from the balcony of the derelict hotel in the Park

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The Hotel Sutjeska; seen better days

It is impossible to imagine what took place here; nearly 80 years ago, and how the sacrifices during those events have become a part of the national psyche. To understand what is taking place in the Balkans today, one has to understand the struggles which have gone on here for hundreds of years; and The Battle Of Sutjeska is one of the most important. I had ridden eastwards from Tebinje, and onto Gacko, still in Republika Srpska, before riding into the Sutjeska gorge, and then into the Sutjeska National Park on my way eastwards.

It was here that I first came across the astonishing  phenomenon of the spomenik

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Tjentište Spomenik; Sutjeska Memorial

When I arrived in early September 2018, work was near completion to repair damage to the site around the massive concrete memorial, which had been erected in 1971. Unfortunately, in February 2018, a massive landslide had occurred which threatened the stability of the site surrounding the monument. I cycled up the muddy track to the west of the memorial and up onto the paved area between the magnificent concrete monoliths. They are truly wonderful! I was in awe of these symbolic and abstract sculptures. 

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Museum

Spomen Dom Museum 

Also in the same valley; The Valley of Heroes, is the museum complex. Made almost entirely of concrete ( including the main doors ) , its design borrows from the classic wooden shingle roof typical of mountain woodland cabins.

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Unfortunately, the Museum was not accessible. Because as this blog shows; the interior is a glorious and graphic depiction of the events being commemorated. 

This site in this beautiful valley, was my introduction to the spomenik(s) of Yugoslavia. The wonderful resource that Donald Niebyl has compiled, together with his beautiful and concise and informative recent book, The Spomenik Database, has opened up to me a fascinating  exploration of these extraordinary memorials; together with their distant and recent historical connections. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Star & Garter at Bristol

I’ve been going in here for a drink when I visit friends in Bristol for many years. It never looks quite the same at night as it does on a bright spring morning….But it is a little closed now….It used to be open all hours as they say!

Star & Garter, Bristol

Star & Garter, Bristol

STAR & GARTER

A week in Ukraine is a long time – Part 1

Graffiti in Kiev

Graffiti in Kiev

I’ve spent a week in Ukraine; arriving in Kiev, and travelling to the south east, visiting and staying near Dnipropetrovsk, and the surrounding countryside, and travelled as far south as the Zaporozhye region, where I visited a stone tomb, the Кам’яна Могила as it is properly called.  There are petroglyphs on the large sandstone blocks which date from the 22-24 millennia BC.

These are far more recent, and definitely more ephemeral, and I cannot interpret them either, but both styles demonstrate the need humans have to express themselves by articulating representations of their experiences in their surroundings, for themselves and their societies’ members to learn from or share.

Graffiti 2

Graffiti 2

I’m currently processing a large number of memories of my experiences and much information, and I will have to break this all up into pieces I can manage, and then put them here. But I thought I’d start with a few images of images which others have made, and try and untangle it all.

Graffiti 3

Graffiti 3

We know this place as Maidan Square – Independence Square – and the events of February 2014 are well remembered, and these images which others have made of the events of that time form part of an exhibition in the square.

Which are more a truth, a fact, an individual’s representation; the graffiti, the photographic exhibition or the 25,000 year-old marks on the rocks?

Maidan Nezalezhnosti - 1

Maidan Nezalezhnosti – 1

Maidan Nezalezhnosti - 2

Maidan Nezalezhnosti – 2

Maidan Nezalezhnosti - 3

Maidan Nezalezhnosti – 3

Maidan Nezalezhnosti - 4

Maidan Nezalezhnosti – 4