Welcome Croatia

A festival welcoming a new EU member

What we set out to do

We stated that we wanted through the festival to show Croatia as a place with “a history and culture going back thousands of years”, but also “a place where exciting new things happen”. We said we wanted to ‘put Croatia on the map’, and we saw the lead up to EU accession as a good time to try to do so.

What we achieved

The festival consisted of some 30 events over the 6 months leading up to Croatia’s accession to the EU on 1st July 2013. Many people attended our receptions, openings, conferences and talks, and many more came to our exhibitions, the London Book Fair stand, read ‘Mapping Croatia in United Kingdom Collections’, heard the BBC music programme, or engaged with the festival through Facebook and Twitter.

How did this come about?

On 25th February 2011 the British-Croatian Society invited people to a meeting at the Croatian Embassy to discuss the possibility of holding a Croatian cultural festival. The Croatian ambassador welcomed the group and Sir John Ramsden, as the Chair, explained that the proposal was to create a cultural event or festival to celebrate Croatia’s accession to the EU.

A committee met monthly from early 2012 to provide direction for the festival and to ensure coherence and quality. The committee consisted of representatives of AMAC, the International Trust for Croatian Monuments, the Croatian Embassy, the British Croatian Chamber of Commerce, and the British-Croatian Society. The committee coordinated the input of our many partners and supporters. We are grateful to the Friends of Welcome Croatia for their financial support and to many other organizations and individuals who helped in one way or another.

What did we do?


7 – 27: Launch of the Welcome Croatia festival by the Croatian Minister of Culture, Dr Andrea Zlatar Violić, at the Shared Innovation exhbition, British Council Gallery


2: Dalmatian Music of the 16th – 18th Centuries, with Bojan Bujić, BBC3 Early Music Show

5 – 18:  Croatia through the lens, photographic exhibition, Croatian Embassy

20 – 16 March: Trace (Mirna Krešić) art exhibition, ArtEco

25: ‘Croatian Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer as Art Collector’, Wallace Collection

25: Launch of ‘Mapping Croatia in United Kingdom Collections’, Wallace Collection

26: Presentation with HE Dr Boris Vujčić, Governor of the Bank of Croatia, INCE


13: S.DRESS, Croatian fashion, at Mooi

18: ‘Urban Planning of Trogir in the Early Renaissance’, Dr Radoslav Buzančić, Croatian Embassy

28: Žar ptica cbildrens’ theatre company present ‘The Magic World of Numbers’ at the Academy of Live & Recorded Arts


11: ‘Croatia and EU legislation’, Croatian Embassy

15 – 17: Croatian national stand at the London Book Fair, Earls Court

15 – 17: Short Shrift – Season of Contemporary Croatian Drama, RADA

16: ‘Meet the voices of modern Croatian Literature’, Keats House

17: ‘Contemporary Croatian Literature: Inside & Out’, Europe House

19: Aestas Musica Baroque Ensemble concert, Grosvenor Chapel

20 & 21: The Mozatinne Girls Choir concerts, St Vincente de Paul and Sacred Heart churches


7, 14, 21 & 28: ‘Jupiter seducing Callisto’, National Gallery

10: Sir Arthur Evans in Dalmatia, Ashmolean Museum

23-25: Croatian Products & Service Fair and gala dinner, Battersea Arts Centre

30: ‘Croatian Money and Medals in the British Museum’, British Museum


3: ‘Croatian Latin Heritage’, Dr Neven Jovanović, British Library

7 – 27: Croatian contribution to the Atlas of the Unbuilt World, London Festival of Architecture, The Bartlett School of Architecture

10 – 21: ‘Continuity of the Modernity’, Croatian architecture exhibition, 160 Tooley Street (London Festival of Architecture)

10 – 26: building a kažun, Peak District National Park (launch 5 July)

18 – 25: ‘Croatian Archaeological Heritage’, exhibition, Europe House

21: Launch of ‘The Sweet Taste of a Dalmatian Love Affair”, Croatian cookery book, Keats House

24 – 25: Croatia at the Crossroads archaeology conference, Europe House

25: Srdjan Bulat guitar concert and reception, Europe House

30: Quarter peal of bells, Christchurch in Hampstead to mark the end of the festival and Croatia’s accession to the EU

Support for the festival included:

Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs

Croatian Ministry of Culture

Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sport

Croatian Embassy, London

The British Council (Croatia and London)

Europe House (EU Delegation)

British-Croatian Society

Friends of Welcome Croatia


Peak District National Park


Southwark Council

ALRA (Academy of Live and recorded Arts)

British Croatian Chamber of Commerce

International Trust for Croatian Monuments

British Croatian Business Club

Istros Books

Croatian Church

Wallace Collection

Ashmolean Museum

British Library

National Gallery

British Museum

Dr Ivan Grdešić, the Croatian Ambassador, deserves special thanks for his commitment to the Festival without which many events would not have happened.

Many people gave their time and professional expertise, notably:

Gordana Johnson

Suzanna Dolata

Adrian Johnson

Julia Cassim

as well as members of the festival committee – Sir John Ramsden (Chair), David Davison, Mira Malović-Yeeles, Nenad Bičanić, Flora Turner, Ana-Marija Žuvan, Tony Suchy, Jadranka Beresford-Peirse, Tihana Borovčak (Press and Public relations), Peter Elborn (Secretary).

A peal of bells welcomes Croatia in the EU

Date: Sunday 30 June 2013 at 17:15

Venue: Christ Church, Hampstead Square, London NW3 1AB

On 30 June the Welcome Croatia Festival will end with a peal of bells welcoming Croatia into the EU. Ringing bells is one of the traditional ways of marking an event or celebration in the UK and this peal will be rung at Christ Church in Hampstead on Sunday 30 June at 17:15. The peal of bells will last about 45 minutes of continuous ringing.


Kažun – we have lift-off!

Building project

ews from the project to build a kažun in the Peak District National Park to mark Croatia’s accession to the EU. Professor Nenad Bičanić writes:

I am delighted to say that the construction of the kažun has officially started on 6 June – the stone has been delivered and the site at Parsley Hay, near Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 0DG was prepared – five Istrian wallers (Branko Orbanić, Milan Orbanić, Valter Medančić, Milan Milotić and Danijel Matika) arrived on Sunday 9 June. I was there for the first two days. It was completed on Thursday 20 June – and it looks like it has always been there! The grand launch is scheduled for Friday 5 July at 1.00 pm – if you happen to be anywhere near by, it would be good to see you.  Please let Belinda Wybrow know if you pan to be there at Ambassador Grdešić will attend.

If you find yourself near the Peak District in the future, please come along if you can to inspect it – several local dry stone walling volunteers assisted the Istrians.

Reporting on the kažun project by Croatian Television






Kažun – day 1

Kažun – nearly there!


Kažun – finished!

Kažun – looking as if it was always there!

For your diary

  On now:

Private View of exhibition “Trace” (15 March at the ArtEco Gallery)
Coming soon:

Lecture “Urban Planning of Trogir in the Early Renaissance” (18 March at the Croatian Embassy)

Children’s theatre play “The Magic World of Numbers” (28 March at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts)

Croatian Writer’s Society at the London Book Fair (15-17 April at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre)

“The Magic World of Numbers”

Children’s theater play

Date: 28 March 2013 at 15:00 and 17:30

Venue: ALRA South, The Royal Victoria Patriotic Building, John Archer Way, London SW18 3SX

Žar ptica (the Firebird) children’s theatre group from Zagreb will come to London to take part in the Welcome Croatia festival with their play “The Magic World of Numbers”. Performed in English and lasting 45 minutes each, the play makes a whole new world based on mathematics in a way that is fun and familiar to children aged 3 and above.

The Žar ptica company, founded 30 years ago, specialises in performing plays for children and young people, with over 300 performances each year. Since 2007 Žar ptica has also performed internationally, including Vienna, Cairo and New York.

Žar ptica will be here for just two performance on 28 March 2013 at 15:00 and 17:30 in the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) in Clapham.

Letter from the President





Members of the Board of the British-Croatian Society,
Distinguished organizers,
Dear friends of Croatia,
Dear Mr. Ramsden,

I was delighted by the news of the festival “Welcome Croatia” to be organised by your society to mark Croatia’s forthcoming accession to the European Union.

Croatian citizens that are now impatiently awaiting 1 July 2013, the historic event for which they have fought and prepared hard for more than two decades, usually refer to this event as the „return to the European family“.

Indeed, in terms of civilisation, Croatia has always belonged to Europe and has given a major contribution to European cultural heritage over one thousand years of its existence.

Many British archaeologists – such as George Wheller in the 17th, Robert Adam in the 18th and Sir Arthur Evans in the 19th century – take credit for revealing this heritage to the world. I am confident that a seminar on Evans’s life and his researches in Dalmatia, which you plan to organise during the festival, will bring not only his discoveries but also the wealth of Croatia’s ancient and medieval heritage closer to new generations of archaeologists and students.

Part of this art treasure is kept in the leading museums throughout the United Kingdom and, with your assistance, it will be rediscovered by British art admirers.

Our two countries are indisputably bound not only by archaeology but also by literature. Thanks to generations of splendid Shakespearean scholars and excellent translators such as Torbarina, Šoljan, Paljetak, Slamnig, Ladan, Maras and others, the Croatian readership has always been well acquainted with the master-pieces of the British classic and modern literature.

I believe that Croatia’s membership in the European Union will direct this process more intensely in the opposite direction and that the works of Croatian authors will be translated more often and thus be more accessible to British readership.

While the walls and fortresses of Dubrovnik, one of the most beautiful medieval cities of the Mediterranean, have provided an ideal setting for many unforgettable performances of Shakespeare’s plays over more than six decades of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, I hope that the London Book Fair will become an ideal place for presenting contemporary Croatian literature.

As President of the Republic I have sincere faith in young people, their creativity and innovativeness. Therefore, I was delighted by the announcement of a joint exhibition of the Hrvatsko dizajnersko društvo – HDD [Croatian Designers’ Association], the Royal College of Art and young Croatian designers who study or work in London to try to create a platform for cooperation between Croatian and British artists and architects. I have received some of them in my office and endorsed their endeavours, confident that this cooperation will result in success on the European market.

Equally so, I hope that a meeting of politicians and business people in the House of Lords will boost economic cooperation between our two countries and encourage British business people to invest in Croatia.

Being still impressed by the magnificent opening ceremony of this year’s Olympic Games where Croatian athletes and paralympic athletes supplemented the national collection with eleven new medals, I take this opportunity to congratulate the City of London and the United Kingdom on splendid hospitality and excellent organisation that will be hard to surpass.

I can state with pleasure that this year we have had one of the most successful tourist season with a significant increase in the number of British tourists. I am positive that this festival will be an additional motivation for the British to explore this “small country for a great holiday” and to accept Croatia as their future favourite tourist destination.

The truly rich programme that you are planning, including exhibitions, lectures and seminars will show that, in spite of their historical differences, the United Kingdom and Croatia have very much in common.

After all – Tito and Churchill fought on the same side against Fascism and both emerged from the Second World War as victors. The graves of British pilots on the island of Vis which are visited every year by veterans of both sides testify to the alliance of our countries in the struggle for peace. This alliance continues today in joint NATO missions where the United Kingdom and Croatia participate as equal partners.

In conclusion, I would like to express once again my thanks to members of the British-Croatian Society, as well as all British and Croatian partners, institutions and prominent individuals that have made this Festival possible and thus given their contribution to better understanding of and respect for Croatia in the United Kingdom.

I wish you much success with the programme of the Festival hoping that, as friendly countries, we shall continue to share our common European future as well.

I am looking forward to meeting you again.


Zagreb, 17 September 2012


of the Republic of Croatia

Ivo Josipović

Sir Arthur Evans in Dalmatia

Archaeological symposium

Date: Friday 10 May 2013, 14:00 – 17:30

Venue: Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Sir Arthur Evans (1851-1941) was Curator of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford from 1884 to 1908 and was made Professor of Prehistory in 1909. He is most famous for excavating the palace of Knossos on Crete and for developing the concept of Minoan civilisation, but in the early years of his career he was much engaged with events in south-eastern Europe during the declining days of the Ottoman empire.

The years 1871-82 found him travelling in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina engaged upon a mixture of travel, archaeology and freelance journalism. In 1882 he was even arrested by the Austrian authorities, but released after six weeks.

It was in 1879 that the event took place which established a particular link between Croatia and the Ashmolean. On a visit to Metković from Dubrovnik, Evans swapped his top hat (his father had insisted that he be so properly equipped for travel) for two marble heads deriving from a shrine to the cult of Augustus at Narona (the village of Vid now overlies the site). During excavation of the shrine in the 1990s, torsos relating to the heads were discovered and the head of Livia and her torso were reunited in an exhibition at the Ashmolean July to October 2004.

These discoveries have stimulated interest in Evans’s connections with Croatia and it is the purpose of this half-day symposium to explore the wider contexts of Evans’s travels in the Balkans, contemporary Croatian archaeology as well as the additional Evans ‘Croatian’ material in the museum.

Speakers will include Professor John Wilkes, Dr Helena Tomas, Kristina Gliksman, Dr Susan Sherratt, Dr Yannis Galanakis.

The photograph shows the party organized in

honour of Evans and his wife Margaret

(seated in the front row) before their

departure to Ragusa (Dubrovnik) for their

honeymoon. ‘Courtesy of the Ashmolean

Museum, University of Oxford’.

Mapping Croatian Works of Art in the UK

Public project

Museums and galleries in the UK have many priceless works of art related to Croatia – but where are they? This project was carried out over 2012 and has collected information to launch in 2013 a ‘map’ of Croatian culture in the UK. We invited you to share information that would assist the project, and to contact us through this website.

Associated with this project, the Welcome Croatia festival worked with museums and galleries around the UK to highlight Croatian cultural links as part of Welcome Croatia during the run up to Croatian membership of the EU on 1 July 2013. Some pieces are at present in storerooms of museums and galleries, while others are not prominently displayed. The Welcome Croatia festival was working with museums and galleries to give greater attention to Croatian works in their collections and to arrange talks about them.

Antiquaries-at-Pola-300x198Thomas Patch (1725-1782) Antiquaries at Pola (Pula), oil      on      canvas, 1760, National Trust, Durham Massey
Thomas Patch (1725-1782) Antiquaries at Pola (Pula), oil on canvas, 1760, National Trust, Durham Massey
After many months of dedicated research the Welcome Croatia’s Mapping Croatian Works of Art in the UK was launched at the Wallace Collection on 25 February where we also presented the publication by Flora Turner-Vučetić: Mapping Croatian Works of Art.

Also, here is a list of a few of Oscar Nemon’s work in the UK:
Carved wooden bust of Sigmund Freud in the Freud Museum, Hampstead
Sigmund Freud statue in Hampstead
Montgomery in Whitehall
Lord Portal on the Victoria Embankment
Churchill in the Guildhall
Churchill bust in Windsor Castle
Queen’s bust in Christ Church, Oxford
Churchill statue in the House of Commons:

Croatian works of art in the UK public collections

To find a work of art of your compatriot in a major world museum is always an exciting moment. It is a link with your homeland and it is also another link with the country you visit or you have settled in. My search for Croatian artists began back in 1977, during my first visit to the UK as a visiting curator at the V&A. And it is this wonderful museum that has in its collections some remarkable objects linked to Croatia. There are also masterpieces in the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Royal Collections and in a number of other museums and collections. The presence of these works of art show us that links between Britain and Croatia are stronger and more pervasive that is generally known. The movement of artefacts and exchange of ideas has being ongoing for centuries. Even early British art collectors recognised the artistic value of Renaissance masters who came from Croatia and collected their works. But some of them, then, as some also today, knew them only in association with Venice, or other European artistic centres where they worked and by their Italianate names. An example is the painter Andrea Schiavone or Andrea Meldola, Croatian name  Andrija Medulić (c.1510- 1563 Zadar), whose paintings and  drawings are major  museums and also in the collection of HM the Queen at Hampton Court. One of the treasures of the Sir John Soane’s museum is a manuscript with illuminations by Giulio Clovio (1498-1578 ) born in Grižane in Croatia, one of the most important miniaturists whose talent was recognized by the greatest artists and patrons in the Renaissance courts. The works of sculptors like Francesco Laurana, Nikola Firentinac, Ivan Duknović, will also very often be recognized for their work under their Italianate names and therefore not necessarily known for their origins. We are proud that a small nation as Croatia has contributed to the world’s rich tapestry of artistic achievements and scientific discoveries. This list which includes archaeological finds from the territory of Croatia, works of art by Croatian artists from the Middle Ages to contemporary artists and ethnographic material from different regions is an incentive for more research and shows a wealth of talents in different media and through the centuries. We have also included some examples of paintings by British artists who were inspired by their visit to Croatia. And it is an invitation to artists to come to Croatia and be inspired.

Archaeological conference

Croatia at the Crossroads

An international conference to explore the connections or interconnectedness of ‘Croatia’ with neighbouring peoples and cultures from the earliest times up to the medieval period.

Date: 24 – 25 June 2013

Venue: Europe House, 32 Smith Square, London SW1P 3EU

The conference will explore the routes and channels of communication manifest through trade, technological transfer, artistic influence and conflict.

Presentations will feature material stemming from a wide range of academic archaeological projects which have been conducted in Croatia over the last twenty years.

The conference will feature some 25 archaeologists, many based in Britain, but the majority from Croatia.

For more information and to register your attendance please visit

Croatia through the Lens

Photographic exhibition

Date: 5 – 18 Feburary 2013

Venue: Croatian Embassy, 21 Conway Street, London W1T 6BN

A year ago we launched the Croatia through the Lens photographic competition with an exhibition of the photographs of Gordana Johnson. The competition culminates in an exhibition of the prints short-listed for a prize from 5th Feburary at the Croatian Embassy. Opening hours: Mondays to Fridays 11:00 to 15:00 hours.

Any image of Croatia was welcome in the competition, whether it be of the beaches of Dalmatia, the fields of Slavonia, or the city squares of Zagreb and the competition was open to anyone, amateur or professional. The result is a startlingly beautiful and photographically brilliant exhibition.

To view this exhibition online please follow this link: Croatia through the Lens. The prize winner is “Fun in the Waves” (no. 20) by Vera Stevens.

The following photographs are by Gordana Johnson at whose exhibition this competition was launched and were here to inspire us all or provide ideas!