Ljiljana Nikolic,
Art Historian,
Fine Art Critic
THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL COLONY OF CERAMICS

Biljana Djordjević-Bogdanović, archaeologist
ON ZLAKUSA POTTERY AND ITS SIGNIFIANCE
FOR ETHNOLOGICAL AND ARCHEOLOGICAL RESEARCH

 

Nikola Kusovac, Art historian
IN THE SPIRIT OF TRADITION

If science, technique and technology are determined by an urge for continuous progress, revolutionary hasty sometimes, then art and culture could be said to imply strong relying on tradition and a process of calm evolution. With such a view, the art of ceramics has the deepest, so to say, primordial roots. It is as old as the man himself, or the humanity. Actually, the first traces of material culture, by which the creative nature and reach of the just erected man are revealed, i.e. according to which the beginnings of civilization are determined, are contained in the first deeds of his hands, in weapons, tools and dishes he used. Therefore, primarily those objects are so called artifacts made of durable materials, of stone, bones, clay, later earthenware and ceramics, and very rarely of wood and leather, because their lifetime is much shorter.

In any case, the history of ceramics to a great extent coincides with the history of mankind and the development of different civilizations, in which, without exception, it presents a common denominator. For this, and for their universal presence and lasting in all civilizations, the objects made of baked clay (pottery and ceramics, usable and artistic) in continuity from time immemorial represent the most significant evidence of the man's creative spirit. From this fact originates the uniqueness of ceramics and its exceptional significance in the history of human communities, particularly those ancient ones, with a long creative tradition. The very awareness of the importance of such tradition and a wish to preserve, enrich, creatively refresh and make it well-known, incited the academic painter-potter Sofija Bunardzic at the first encounter with the folk craftsmen from the village of Zlakusa near Uzice to take on this difficult, but promising task of iniating a professional international colony, which would in addition to artistic potters assemble other experts as well, such as archeologists, ethnologists, fine art critics, historians and art theoreticians. This complex job required a long and serious preparation.

Luckily, determined and ready for all temptations, a decade later, in 1996, Sofija Bunardzic put her idea into reality. At that time in picturesque Zlakusa thirteen very prominent, mostly leading Yugoslav art potters and four guests, two from Bulgaria and one from Greece and Austria, just like in a pagan ritual, gathered around the fireplace which turned clay into ceramics in the manner the earthenware has been made for centuries. It was the beginning which assured long existence of, at that time just established, International Art Colony of Ceramics - ZLAKUSA. Later on, toughened in the years of war hardships, the country isolation without precedent and satanization of Serbian people, this colony not only survived, but also proved as a respectable art event, moreover, with a praiseworthy tradition.

In its constant progress and growth, in 2001 the Colony extended its activities and, in addition to ceramics, it enabled art potters to try their skills, use and inspire themselves with the art of forming glass, too, in «Tiffany», the workshop for artistic glass shaping, owned by Velimir Tošanic in Tripkova village.

Translated by Snezana Tesic