I have been travelling through Croatia for two weeks now, starting in Dubrovnik, on to Split, the Plitvice lakes and finally Zagreb where we arrived 4 days ago.
We have visited many museums all super interesting, and galleries, especially that of Ivan Mĕstrović, the most famed Croatian artist, set up in his summer house in Split and depicting his drawings and many of his sculptures. Entrance also gives you access to the Kaštelet, a small fortress that houses his works of religious theme on wood, they are set in the chapel that still celebrates mass every Sunday according to his wishes when he donated the property.
What I want to share today is a children’s exhibition set in the Grič tunnel, under the upper town of Zagreb, specifically the neighbourhood of Grič, also called Gradec or Gornji Grad. This tunnel was first built in 1943 for use as a WWII air-raid shelter and has not been used a lot since.
The central hall is connected by two passageways to Mesnička Street in the west and Stjepan Radić Street in the east, and four passageways extending to the south. In 1990 it was used again for hosting one of the first raves in Croatia, and also functioned as a shelter during the Croatian War of Independence. In 2016, the tunnel was opened to the public, serving as a tourist attraction and hosting cultural events. (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gri%C4%8D_Tunnel_(Zagreb))
We were so lucky to find the entrance that is not easy to discover when you are walking and don’t have the specific address, and to find it was hosting the 22nd Children’s Garden of the City of Zagreb exhibition. Here are a few pictures of the event that finished on the day we visited.
I love the fact that this city puts emphasis on art at an early age. Back in the days, they made drawing classes compulsory for all. I don’t know if this is still the case, but you see children in museums and galleries a lot more than at home, and they are very interested in discovering art, asking questions and listening to answers, learning.
Art should get back into schools in a big way. It is an extremely important part of education and helps in developing a critical mind and an eye for beauty no matter its form. Creativity, improved motor skills and confidence, perseverance, focus, are a few of the benefits of learning and practicing art for children. It is an important part of their education that unfortunately is being increasingly ignored by our government here in Quebec and Canada.
I hope it changes one day and art finds its rightful place in our education system.
All photos and text ©Suzanne Bélair
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