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 answer: lots.Probably nobody knows exactly, but Flora Turner has as good an idea as anyone. Flora addressed the Society with an update of her booklet Mapping Croatia in UK Collections that was part of the British-Croatian Society led festival WelcomeCroatia in 2013, a comprehensive listing of works by Croatian artists in Britain. Because some Renaissance masters were hidden under Italian names, their Croatian identity is often not clear to see. So, for example, Giulio Clovio was considered as an Italian painter and miniaturist although he was born in Grižane in 1498 and signed some of his works as Croata/Croat. His best works are in the Sir John Soane’s Museum and the British Library.A contemporary writer Dubravka Ugrešić, ( Kutina 1949 - Amsterdam 2023) choose not to be narrowly defined as a Croatian writer, she preferred to be seen in a wider international context as a European writer. In that spirit the British-Croatian Society organised a round table Remembering Dubravka Ugrešić at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. The event brought together academics, people with personal memories of Dubravka and others who simply enjoy her writing. Celia Hawkesworth, one of the panel members and a translator of several of Dubraka’s works, suggested The Museum of Unconditional Surrender as, in her view, the best of Dubravka’s novels.Rebecca West, the author of Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, was also, but in a different way, controversial. Her 1930’s views on Yugoslavia were robust. Nick Allan came to the Society to talk about his book When Dreams Collide: Travels in Yugoslavia with Rebecca West. Guided by Rebecca West’s book, Nick faced up to past and present issues and events in an even handed way, with many personal insights into people and the monuments of Croatia and the former Yugoslavia.
Peter Frankopan, professor of global history at Oxford University, is an outstanding academic and writer and - as we found out again at a British-Croatian Society event - he is also a captivating speaker. When his book, The Earth Transformed, was published it was described as a “revolutionary new history that reveals how climate change has dramatically shaped the development—and demise—of civilisations across time”. With examples from ancient times to the modern day, Peter brought a new light to bear on history. At a previous British-Croatian Society event Peter spoke about his book The Silk Roads with the same infectious enthusiasm.
A new event in 2023 was a family excursion to Whitstable to visit the delightful cafe Amedea, the half-Croatian cafe. It is very much a Croatian family affair run by Ed, his sister Saskia and mum Suzi. The cafe is named after Ed’s grandmother who, he says, was his “nice little grandma... Or in Croatian, moja mala Nona!” The cafe is well worth a visit for its attempt to create a genuine feeling of Croatia, as well as an opportunity to see an old fashioned British seaside town easily reached from London (www.amedea.co.uk).
We all know and love the Croatian coast, so it was a pleasure to invite the Conservation Collective to talk about their new project to create a Dalmatian Islands Environment Foundation. Ben Goldsmith, a well-known campaigner on environmental issues, spoke of the need to protect Dalmatia. The Foundation is now established and has already achieved success under its Croatian director Marko Pećarević. For more information, please go to www.dalmatianenvironment.org.
Following the successful British-Croatian Society visit to look at twentieth century architecture in Zagreb last year with 30 members of the Twentieth Century Society, we were pleased to bring Zagreb University Professor Maroje Mrduljaš to give an illustrated talk entitled The Sunny Side of Modernism: Tourist Architecture in Croatia 1950-2000. Held at the C20 Society’s gallery in Farringdon and on Zoom, Maroje spoke passionately about the need to protect outstanding examples of architecture from this period, a theme that resonated well with the C20 Society’s aims in the UK. Such was the enthusiasm for Maroje’s talk that another architectural history tour to Croatia, this time to Split, is under discussion for 2025.
Jagoda Buić (1930-20220) is best known for her monumental installations and tapestries, which won her critical acclaim in the latter half of the 20th century. We arranged a private view of an exhibition at the Richard Saltoun Gallery. Jagoda was a fibre art pioneer, known for her vast installations made out of textile cords, hemp and wool, and experiments with unusual surface textures. She was also a successful costume and set designer for opera, ballet, theatre and film productions. The private view was an opportunity to see some of her work as well as to hear personal memories of Jagoda from members of the British-Croatian Society.
Getting Croatian writers translated and published in English is both a way of providing writers with a bigger audience as well as giving people in the UK an opportunity to understand Croatia better. Ivica Prtenjača came to London for a British-Croatian Society event to promote his new book translated into English Let’s Go Home, Son. The book is a novel about a son clutching to his father’s last moments of life and joy, set during lockdown in Croatia. Ivica Prtenjača is published by Istros Books, the publishing house that specialises in translating fiction from Croatia (www.istrosbooks.com).
Aurelia, Lady Young has devoted herself to researching her father's life and his work. Oscar Nemon was born in Osijek, but settled in the United Kingdom where he sculpted many famous figures including Winston Churchill and members of the royal family. Aurelia brought members of the Society up to date on her research about her father in a characteristically lively and amusing talk.
The annual dinner and the annual British-Croatian Society calendar rounded off a busy year for the Society. The annual dinner was again held at the sumptuous Savile Club in Mayfair. Guests were welcomed by the klapa group Cesarice. The annual collection of photographs for the Society’s calendar attracted, as always, some excellent photographs. A selection can be seen by going to the calendar Croatia section of our website www.britishcroatiansociety.com.