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 IN 2020
Of course it has not been a usual year for the British-Croatian Society - indeed for everyone and everything. Nevertheless we managed to continue to deliver a programme, continuing to respond to the interest of our members in knowing and understanding Croatia. This is especially important at a time when many things may not be possible.
The year started with a generous donation from Celia Hawkesworth of books of Croatian literature translated into English. They were quickly taken up by members. The availability of Croatian fiction in English does much to widen the audience for literature from Croatia and a deeper understanding of the country.
For the first part of the year we had our regular events programme. A memorable start was to hear the distinguished pianist Ivana Gavrić in conversation with the equally distinguished musicologist Bojan Bujić. Ivana talked about what she learned from her mother, the way piano was taught in Sarajevo and how she had to adjust to the very different techniques on arrival in the UK. Ivana and Bojan discussed the various traditions of piano playing.
In her career Ivana Gavrić has attracted considerable praise for her interpretations of Janáček, Liszt, Schubert, and more recently Grieg. Last year, Ivana performed Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto to a sold-out Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Her recordings have also earned much praise. She created a sensation with her debut disc In the Mists, winning BBC Music Magazine Newcomer of the Year for ‘playing of an altogether extraordinary calibre’.
The following month, Ivana gave a concert to raise funds for AMAC that was all the more enjoyable for the insights gained at the ‘in conversation’ event.
Our programme continued with Sir Nicholas Jackson who gave an updated account of his grandfather’s visits to Croatia in 1882,1884, 1885 and 1893 and the publication of his three volume travel diaries ‘Dalmatia, the Quarnero’ and Istria’. As always Sir Nicholas gave a splendid presentation illustrated with some of the pictures his grandfather painted.
Our ambitious programme with the British Library unfortunately had to be shelved. This included the launch in English of the seminal work by Predrag Matvejević ‘Our Daily Bread’, translated by Krsitina Pribičević-Zorić, and published by Istros Books. We had hoped to postpone this to a later date but eventually had accepted that a public event at the Library was unlikely to happen this year. We therefore opted instead for a podcast that was made available through the British-Croatian Society website.
Also cancelled at the British Library was an event to mark a new edition in English of Petar Hektorović’s narrative poem, a masterpiece of Croatian Renaissance literature, Fishing and Fishermen’s Conversations. The intention was also to highlight the British Library’s Croatian collection. The library is open to everyone, for research, inspiration and enjoyment. These collections are significant and relevant for the Croatian community in Britain.
Planning for the long weekend to explore Zagreb's modernist architecture, in conjunction with the C20 Society, has been put on hold, We hope to revive this proposal when circumstances allow.
calendarCroatia 2021 is one of our activities that has been little affected by current constraints with an online exhibition on the British-Croatian Society website. The printed calendar can also be seen on the website.
We initiated two new features to reach our members electronically. The first was a series of emails under the title culturalCroatia with 18 short features on a wide range of cultural issues, subjects ranging from music and literature to personal recollections. culturalCroatia can still be seen on our website - just click on Cultural Croatia.
Although our regular programme had to stop from March, we have continued to be in contact with members by email. A big part of what we do has always been to pass on information that might be of interest. So, to take some examples, we circulated information about the disastrous effects of earthquakes and floods on museums, we brought to our members attention the annual report of the International Trust for Croatian Monuments, and we provided amusement by reporting that one of Japan’s oldest universities uses ‘U boj, u boj’ song from Ivan Zajc’s opera Nikola Zrinski as its university anthem.
The British-Croatian Society has supported the ‘adopt a clock’ project to help the Museum of Arts and Crafts (Muzej za umjetnosti i obrt) in Zagreb. The project helps to restore some of the damage to the exhibits by the earthquake. One of the damaged clocks has an early 18th century movement by Richard Colley, an ‘eminent maker’ from one of the great periods of London clockmaking, in a slightly later German rococo case. The Society has limited funds but we responded by ‘adopting’ this clock by contributing towards the cost of the restoration of the Colley movement. The restored clock featured in an exhibition at the Museum and the support from the British-Croatian Society was acknowledged.
We look forward to continuing our programme in 2021 in whatever circumstances we find ourselves faced with, providing opportunities to get to know better the culture of Croatia.
BRITISH-CROATIAN SOCIETY - Events in 2019
Stronger finances have allowed us to have a more ambitious programme bringing speakers from Croatia and to support events such as Bojan Cicic's Instruments of Time and Truth concert in Oxford.
As always one of the key activities appreciated by our email contacts and members has been simply letting people know of Croatian events happening in the UK. We were able to tell people of 28 Croatian events during the year, in addition to events organised by ourselves.
Our 2019 programme started with the ex-British ambassador to Croatia, Sir John Ramsden, talking about his diplomatic career from Hanoi to Zagreb. He illustrated his talk with unique photographs of Hanoi now published in his book Hanoi After The War.
The outstanding violinist Bojan Cicic came to the Society to talk about his career and his music as an Oxford based violinist who performs internationally. He has been working to bring Croatian composers to the attention of the UK classical music public, including a new CD and a Croatia-focussed concert in Oxford at the end of November.
David Mlinaric and Ana Zenic, world-class interior designers, gave an illustrated account of bringing their aesthetic to their own houses in Dalmatia. Both have created houses of distinction while respecting the essence of the old stone buildings they converted. David's house was featured in the September edition of House and Garden.
Flora Turner gave a dazzling talk about Croatian cultural objects that have been returned to Croatia after having come up for auction in London and elsewhere in Europe. If you were not able to attend this event, you can see the text and illustrations on our website (In Search of Art for Croatia).
In the autumn our focus was on twentieth century Croatian architecture and we arranged two talks in co-operation with the prestigious C20 Society. Krunoslav Ivanisin came from Zagreb to bring the architect Dobrovic to the attention of a UK audience. His Grand Hotel on the island of Lopud is an excellent example of 1930's European architecture applied to a Croatian setting.
This was followed by another architect from Zagreb, Darja Radovic Mahecic, known for her monumental work on 1930's Croatian architecture. We are now working with her and the C20 Society to create an architectural tour to Zagreb in the autumn of 2021.
Two outstanding contemporary award-winning novelists, Marina Šur Puhlovski and Olja Knežević, were in conversation at an event that we held at Europe House. Marina worked as a journalist and a literary critic, before turning to writing exclusively prose. She has written stories, novels, travelogues, essays and literary diaries, and has been the recipient of several national awards for literature. Marina talked about her recently published novel, Wild Woman.
Olja Knežević lived in London for ten years, and has an MA in creative writing from Birkbeck College. She now lives in Zagreb. She is the author of two novels and one book of autobiographical short stories. Her novel Ekaterina Great and Small will be published in English in 2020.
The literary theme continued at this year's British-Croatian Society annual dinner at the Army and Navy Club on Pall Mall in London. The guest of honour was Celia Hawkesworth, honoured for her career long dedication to translation and bringing Croatian authors to the attention of UK readers. Social events also included a BBQ in the summer and regular meet-ups.
Our ever popular annual photographic event, calendarCroatia, took a slightly different form this year. At the launch party, in addition to showing a wide variety of images taken in Croatia in 2019, photographs by Dragan Tomljenovic, Edo Skender and Ninoslava Shah were selected to be enlarged and framed to hang in honour at the Croatian embassy. You can see a selection of the photographs and the calendar on our website.
We will continue to work with other organisations as a way of bringing Croatia to the attention of people in the UK, In addition to the C20 Society, we are arranging events in 2020 with the British Library.