July 2002

Including visits to Croatia in October 2001 and February and May 2002

My last report, July 2001, marked the Trust's 10th anniversary. Since then, I have been to Croatia three times, my visits beginning and ending with Vukovar: in October 2001 and May 2002.

VUKOVAR - Although one would like to say that there is much improvement in Vukovar, progress is slow. In October last year, I was told that about 23,000 people had returned, half of them of Serb and half of Croatian nationality. The pre-war population was 48,000. There are about 1800 children in primary and 2800 in secondary schools. There are still 686 persons declared missing. The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Redevelopment and Reconstruction are both participating in rebuilding projects and people returning to their homes are receiving aid from the government, although they will still have great difficulty in repairing them. Clearing of the ruins was evident. One happy event at the time of my visit was that we heard then, while I was in the TOWN MUSEUM in the Eltz Palace, that Vukovar was listed for the second time on the WORLD MONUMENTS WATCH LIST OF 100 MOST ENDANGERED SITES. They were grateful and happy, but the first question was, how could I help them to obtain funding for many projects that are really necessary in order to make life possible? A concentrated international effort is really needed to rebuild Vukovar and give its traumatised population the hope of a new beginning.

By May this year, the metal construction on the central roof of the Eltz palace was in place and they were working on the stone cornice. Works have been delayed due to a hard winter, but they hope to finish the roof by the autumn. The new roof is our contribution, raised with funds from the piano recital by Ivo Pogorelich in the Royal Festival Hall in 1999. However, the question remains as to when the rest of the building will be restored. This includes the splendid "Marble Hall" on the ground floor, which, in spite of its total devastation, has been in use as an exhibition space. I was able to see there, and in parts of the Museum already restored, an exhibition of some of the treasures from the collections of the Town Museum, the Franciscan Monastery and the Bauer Collection, which had been forcibly removed in November 1991, taken to Belgrade and Novi Sad and returned to Vukovar only in December 2001. Many of these precious objects and works of art will need conservation treatment, but there is no doubt that their return to Vukovar, after years of negotiations, is a very happy development.

DUBROVNIK - I was in Dubrovnik in February and May this year. I concentrated on projects to do with the Franciscan and Dominican Monasteries, the Paper Conservation Workshop and Trsteno Arboretum. In May, EUROPA NOSTRA held a conference in Dubrovnik. The conference was well attended and Dr Anthea Brook, from the WITT LIBRARY, COURTAULD INSTITUTE OF ART, who has supported the Trust since autumn 1991, when an exhibition of photographs showing damage to monuments of culture in Croatia was held in the vestibule of the Courtauld Institute of Art, represented the Trust. Due to my other commitments, I was not able to participate fully at the conference. EUROPA NOSTRA kindly published in their Review an article I had written on Trsteno, subsequently republished in the HISTORIC GARDENS REVIEW and the MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN SOCIETY JOURNAL. We all hope to raise awareness and funds to make this beautiful garden prosper and remain a "paradise on earth" for many future generations.

There is still much work going on in the Franciscan Monastery. Restoring an old building often leads to something unexpected, which has caused delays here too. Although the library room is now finished, they are installing a lift and therefore the approach to the library is still under construction. With the contribution from the ROBERT WILSON CHALLENGE through the WORLD MONUMENTS FUND following Sherban Cantacuzino's lecture in 2000, I was able to give to Fra Mario Sikic, the guardian of the monastery, another donation and a supply of conservation material for their well known and valuable music archive. This was shipped to Dubrovnik again by kindness of CROATIA AIRLINES and assistance given in every way by Samir and Sanja Serhatlic, paper conservators from the CROATIAN RESTORATION INSTITUTE. We hope that there will be about ten students from the FONDAZIONE PER IL RESTAURO E CONSERVAZIONE DI BENI LIBRARIANI in Spoleto working in the Dominican and Franciscan libraries this July and August. Most of them were in Dubrovnik last year and one of them has now, with the help of Sanja and Samir in Dubrovnik and the paper conservators Stephen and Pamela Allen in this country, taken over from Dr Nicholas Pickwoad the organisation of the project. We still do not know if the authorities of the Fondazione in Spoleto may be able to adopt the whole idea as part of their final year students' curriculum, but we are all keen that it should continue and we will support it in every way.

Stephen and Pamela Allen are returning to Croatia in September. They will hold workshops again in Ludbreg and Dubrovnik. Their travelling expenses will be covered by the CROATIAN RESTORATION INSTITUTE. Last year, they demonstrated, among other things, the use of a "Leaf Caster", bought with funds from the KRESS FOUNDATION and transported to Dubrovnik free of charge by CROATIA AIRLINES. This is an instrument which enables restorers to fill holes in paper and therefore extremely useful to paper conservators. Moreover, Pamela has decided to pay a short visit to Dubrovnik in August, to see the progress of the work done by the students from Spoleto, which will also be extremely helpful.

On both visits to TRSTENO ARBORETUM, in February and May, new planting and growth was visible. The western part, Drvarica, the 19th century addition to this most beautiful Renaissance garden, which was burnt in a forest fire in August 2000, looked desolate and empty. There used to be dense pines and a beautifully landscaped park, with stone garden furniture, before the fire. Almost everything has been cleared and replanted, but it will take many years for the young plantations to catch up. The Trust received a generous donation from the SAGA CHARITABLE TRUST which, together with other donations, I handed to Professor Ivo Padovan, president of the CROATIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AND ARTS, who own the arboretum, in May. We plan that our ex-students from WEYMOUTH COLLEGE, now back in Split and working there at the ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS, Conservation Department, undertake the restoration or re-carving of these garden elements with our funding.

The curator of the Arboretum, Maja Kovacevic, drew my attention to the fountain of "Neptune with two Nymphs". Built at the same time as the garden and restored in the 18th century, it was damaged by Montenegrin troops in 1806 after Napoleon, when statues were smashed, parts stolen and one of the gardeners killed. (Interestingly enough, one of this gardener's descendants works in Trsteno as a gardener today!) The God of the Sea lost his lance with three prongs, which used to spout water. About 20 years ago, a plastic lance was added, but it does not spout water. They would be grateful to have a fountain specialist come to Trsteno to restore the water action. Maja would also be glad to welcome students of horticulture and landscape gardening to come and help them in the garden on a voluntary basis.

IVANIC GRAD - There is much support for our FLAX AND LINEN PROJECT, efforts to revive growing of flax and hand weaving, in IVANIC-GRAD, near Zagreb, from many sides in Croatia, especially from the County of Zagreb, who have now voted our linen towels the best souvenir of the region. We envisage, in many years to come, a string of workshops along the river Sava, giving employment and potential earnings, and, most importantly, saving this tradition for future generations. Dr Jasminka Butorac, from the Department of Agriculture at the University of Zagreb, continues her tests as to the best strain of seed for the prevailing conditions. Last autumn, linen seed was found in Lika, a region where flax used to be grown, and this is now also undergoing tests. The Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb is helping and there is interest from the Institute of Tourism and the Textile Technological Faculty of the University of Zagreb. This year, flax was sown on several small holdings: considering the hard labour involved during the harvest and the subsequent preparation of flax, it was decided that it was easier to plant on several, smaller areas. A large piece of machinery, about 60 years old, which mechanically helps to separate the woody parts of the plant from the fibre, was found. This machine is now restored and installed on the premises of one of the weavers. Her picturesque home, a typical wooden house of the region, with outbuildings and a lovely garden, will become a centre of the weaving activity and a showpiece for anyone coming to Zagreb. We continue to receive support from the press in Croatia and here. There was an extensive article published in the JOURNAL FOR WEAVERS, DYERS AND SPINNERS and the award- winning magazine, GARDENS ILLUSTRATED, will have an article in their December issue. Publicity and, therefore, sales are very important and I thank them all as well as all the shops, NINA CAMPBELL. THE LINEN MERCHANT, THE GENERAL TRADING COMPANY, MARGARET HOWELL, WARWICKSHIRE AND WORCESTERSHIRE DESIGNS, EGG and CHELSEA PHYSIC GARDENS who continue to sell our towels here at no profit.

The STAINED GLASS STUDIO in Osijek received the donation of a set of stained glass windows from the WORSHIPFUL COMPANY OF GLAZIERS AND PAINTERS ON GLASS last December. They have completed much of the work and they hope that the windows will be installed in the Church of St Martin in Beli Manastir by September. In 1991/92 this 18th c church, like many others in the region, was burnt, with only the walls remaining. The Worshipful Company of Glaziers has kindly donated these windows, dating from the 1850s, to help the process of rebuilding. When I was in Osijek in May, they showed me the collection in its various stages of restoration. Drew Anderson, stained glass specialist from the VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM, will be going there during the summer and will confirm the likely date of completion. We are planning a visit, to mark the installation in the church, at some point in the future.

EDUCATION - Malik Palcok, our fourth student at Weymouth College, has now completed his two-year course in Architectural Stone Carving and Masonry. Another student is coming this autumn, followed by another in 2003. Lena Krstulovic will be completing her six months training at ST PAUL'S CATHEDRAL working with NIMBUS CONSERVATION and learning the techniques for interior stone cleaning. Both Malik and Lena have learned a great deal during their time here and I am grateful to Weymouth College for reducing the fees for our students and to Nimbus Conservation for their kindness and for fighting so hard to obtain a visa for Lena. Hopefully, a textile conservator will join the VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM as an intern for a period of six month. Two students are hoping to come to study paper conservation at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in 2003 and another to go to the Winchester Textile Conservation Centre in 2004. More funding will be needed to enable us to assist them. One of the students from Weymouth College, who is now working for the Croatian Restoration Institute, asked me if I could help them buy a laser stone cleaning machine. Costly, but going down in price as the technology advances, it would greatly improve their work and could be used in different centres in Croatia since it is easily transportable.

Ivan Sikavica, an ex-student from Weymouth College will be re-carving the main rosette in the cloister of the Franciscan Monastery in Dubrovnik. Jure Matijevic, who spent a year doing oil on canvas conservation at the University of Northumbria and a year working in wood at the City & Guilds of London Art School and is now teaching at the Academy of Fine Arts in Split, will undertake with his students, with our help in supplying the department with conservation material, work on certain paintings which would otherwise have to wait for their turn to be restored.

Several paintings remained unsold at our "ART for ART" auction at Bonhams in 1994. They have now been sold, adding to our funds. I thank the artists for their generosity.

My thanks are due to the RIBA Bookshop for holding a launch in April of the book, "MANORS AND GARDENS IN EASTERN CROATIA" by Mladen and Bojana Scitaroci. This enabled many friends of Croatia to see these beautiful places, of which many were unaware. This book, and others, is also available from JOHN SANDOE'S and WATERSTONE'S, (Harrods).

Although I have not been to Trogir for some while now, I often think that a pilot project trying to restore one or two buildings within this city-museum would be a huge contribution towards its safer future.

Future events: WIGMORE HALL, Monday 16th December 2002. a benefit piano recital in aid of our Trust and ISTAMBUL HERITAGE FUND by Fehran and Ferzan Onder, Turkish pianists, twins. Their programme will include transcription of Vivaldi's FOUR SEASONS for two pianos by my nephew, Antun Tomislav Saban, composer, who studied together with the sisters in Vienna. This is already available on the EMI label and recently won for Fehran and Ferzan an award in Germany for best performance.

Next year, on 21st October 2003 at the ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY, John Julius Norwich will kindly give a talk in aid of our Trust. Please support us on both occasions.

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