Welcome to the website of the British Croatian Society
Dobro došli na web stranice Britansko-hrvatskog društva
Croatia is a jewel, increasingly well known in Britain. We aim to further cultural understanding between Britain and Croatia by bringing like-minded people together for a series of lectures, exhibitions, concerts, dinners and other events throughout the year. Please see the events page for a list of forthcoming dates, as well as examples of events we've organised in the past.
Our members have varied interests and backgrounds, and while we have a cultural focus as a society, our events often recognise other aspects of Croatia such as its outstanding natural beauty and thriving tourism industry.
We like to keep our members in touch with items of news we believe would be of interest. Members automatically receive emails from time to time with news and information as well as invitations to events. We also keep our members in touch with additional items of news we believe would be of interest to them.
Becoming a member couldn't be easier. Please see the membership page for details on how to do that.
We hope you enjoy browsing our site, and we look forward to welcoming you to one of our events in the near future.
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The British-Croatian Society 2022
After a hesitant start because of continuing concern about meeting while covid was prevalent, the British-Croatian Society resumed its 2022 programme in March with ’What makes us British-Croatian?’. This was the title of a lively discussion with three of our members, three people with very different experiences of being both Croatian and British. It followed the short videos we produced during lockdown on the same theme. There can be no single answer to the question, but it made for an amusing discussion.
The British Council in Croatia has been bringing people together since the 1930’s and we took a look at at the British Council through three snapshots of its history - before the outbreak of the Second World War, in Tito’s Yugoslavia and in independent Croatia. The British-Croatian Society was shocked to hear that British government cuts to its support to the British Council would seriously reduce its presence in Zagreb. Many members of the Society have acknowledged how important the British Council had been in their development.
Over many years the British-Croatian Society has supported the publication of Croatian writers translated into English. This is one of the most effective ways of enabling people in the UK to understand Croatia better. This year we worked with Fraktura Publishing to enable Igor Stiks (W) and Luka Bekavac (August After Midnight) to be in conversation with Ruth Padel, poet and novelist, Chris Agee, poet and essayist, and Seid Serdarevic, publisher. After the event in Conway Hall, we moved to the kiosk in Red Lion Square to enjoy the company of the writers over refreshments.
The Society further supported the translation of Croatian writers with a grant to the British Centre for Literary Translation workshop at the 2022 International Literary Translation and Creative Writing Summer School, University of East Anglia. The workshop was led by Ellen Elias-Bursać who has been translating prose since the 1980s, including writing by Daša Drndić and Dubravka Ugrešić.
‘Love for Croatia’ is the title of a book by Hazel Hendry who was in conversation with Nicholas Jarrold, the Chair of the British-Croatian Society. Hazel Hendry raised money to send over 50 lorries, full of much needed supplies of food, furniture, medical equipment and toiletries, into Croatia in the 1990s. She travelled personally with many of them during and after the war. Hazel delivered aid right to the front line risking her life to help people who had lost their homes, livelihoods, and families. This book is about her experiences during those years, and the people who helped her and those that she helped. It is based on journals which she kept at the time and later recollections of particular people and events.
The British Croatian Society often works with partner organisations in order to reach a wider audience. In 2022 this included the Jewish Museum and the Twentieth Century Society (C20 Society).
A very special event was the screening of Vesnina prica (Vesna's Story) in cooperation with the Jewish Museum. The film, made last year for the Festival of Tolerance in Zagreb, tells the story of two women, mother Eva and daughter Vesna, the only ones in their immediate and distant Domany family to survive the terror of the Nazi-supported Ustashe regime. On 6 April 1941, when World War II started in Yugoslavia, Eva was 21 and gave birth to Vesna a few weeks later. In the film Vesna tells her life story.
We have worked for some time in partnership with the UK charity, the C20 Society. Before the lockdown, two architectural historians were invited by the British-Croatian Society to London to talk to the C20 Society. In October the C20 Society and the British-Croatian Society organised an architectural tour of Zagreb. Thirty British architectural history enthusiasts spent three days in Zagreb on a voyage of cultural discovery. Their tour provided them with an opportunity, through a series of walks, to explore and enjoy the remarkable 20th century architecture of Zagreb – from the monumental ‘Green Horseshoe’ public parks and buildings, to modernist housing developments and the grounds of the 1936 Zagreb Fair. It was led by Darja Radović Mahečić, a Croatian art historian and researcher. Darja is the author of several works on 19th and 20th urban planning and modern architecture, notably, Croatian modern architecture in the 1930s.
The tour was part of the programme of the Twentieth Century Society, the national charity which campaigns to preserve Britain’s modern architecture and design heritage. Founded in 1979, over the past 40 years they’ve helped save countless landmarks for the nation: from iconic red phone boxes to art deco lido, brutalist bus stations to pop art murals, even helping the former Bankside power station transform into that cathedral of art, the Tate Modern
We all know that the Dalmatian islands are special and we want them to stay unspoilt. It was a pleasure, therefore, to welcome Ben Goldsmith and Jade Brudenell of the Conservation Collective for a British-Croatian Society talk in the library at Conway Hall on the proposed creation of a Dalmatian Islands Environment Foundation, which will be part of the Conservation Collective network. The Conservation Collective is a global network of local environment foundations working to protect and restore nature, and to adapt to and slow down climate change. The scoping study, written by Croatian expert consultant Marko Pecarevic, is available on our website (www.britishcroatiansociety.com and clicking on the news section). This comprises an overview of the environmental issues, challenges, and opportunities in the region, and mapping out the key grassroots’ local groups and initiatives.
Every year there is much excitement when we hold our annual dinner. This year the dinner was held at the Royal Thames Yacht Club. Founded in 1775, the Royal Thames Yacht Club is the oldest yacht club in the world as well as being the oldest royal yacht club. The Patron of the Club and Admiral of the Cumberland Fleet is His Majesty The King.
Each year the annual dinner chooses a charity to support. The organisers were aware of the significance of the date, the 31st anniversary of the siege of Vukovar. So, this year the Mayor of Vukovar was asked to suggest an appropriate charity. Duga - Vukovar will receive the proceeds of the annual dinner raffle and auction, helping the charity to support vulnerable people in Vukovar. Mrs Ingrid Badurina Danielsson, a former La Stampa journalist in the 1990s during the war conflict, was the guest speaker. She reflected on Vukovar’s past and presented an optimistic future.
Another annual tradition is for the Society call for photographs taken in Croatia to be submitted for inclusion incalendarCroatia2023. This year the entries were as great as ever. A selection of photographs as well as how you can purchase the calendar can be found on our website www.britishcroatiansociety.com.
The British-Croatian Society continues to fulfil the useful task of circulating information about events taking place in the UK that will be of interest to people with an interest in Croatia. If you would like to be on our circulation list, please email [email protected].