Interview with Vesna Ujević, founder of the Home of Words Imotski
The campaign Home of Words Imotski has so far been supported by 307 people and legal entities, among which are Municipality Podbablje, Split- Dalmatia county as well as renowned Croatian footballer Zvonimir Boban.
For the beginning we would like you to introduce yourself and the Cultural and Artistic Collective Ujević.
I am Vesna Ujević , I was born and I live in Imotski. I am actively involved in different areas, so it is difficult for me to define a main calling. Among other things I am the leader of the Collective Ujević. The collective has been active since 2010, and it was founded in Krivodol, a small place about 10 kilometres away from Imotski. Krivodol is the cradle of the family Ujević, who have given a great contribution to Croatian culture. The collective has been active in the field of culture and art, with the activities of our Collective we aspire to preserve our cultural heritage, encourage creativity, dignify the spiritual being of people from Imotski.
The Collective has been successfully active for more than a decade. Can you introduce us with the most important projects until now?
Within the Cultural Summer we have initiated gatherings of the writers in Imotski as well as their friends. The manifestation has become a tradition, it takes place every summer on 12 August, and we are planning its ‘upgrading’. In the old core of Gornji Ujevići we have arranged a small square with the sculpture of Tin Ujević. There we present different programs and we hold our meetings. Prof. dr. Darko Ujević has initiated a series of Scientific-expert consultations, so far six of them have been held, with adequate anthologies being published. We have initiated a project called ‘Krivodolčići for Tin’, in which the most important participants were children. The programme included a series of activities with the purpose of fund-raising for the installation of Tin’s bust, as the one which had adorned the schoolyard, had been taken away in the craze for metal. In cooperation with primary schools in the municipality of Imotska krajina, we have arranged and published a series of picture books with local themes. We are especially proud of a book by our well-known Franciscan fra Vjeko Vrčić- ‘Fra Vjekin vijek’. We are also finishing our project Educational Trail – Tin’s pilgrimage through Zagora, and we will soon complete and finish our two-year project Community centre Laurentius, which was financed by the European Social Fund in which we are partners with a few other collectives, and the leader of the project is the collective ‘Kolajna ljubavi’.
One of the recent projects you have initiated is the Home of Words Imotski. At the moment there is an active crowdfunding campaign for its realisation on platform Bona Fides Invest. Please inform our readers what it is about and how they can support the project?
Three years ago the Collective purchased a small old stone house (1684). We want to renovate it and house a Native library in it, we also have plans to organize workshops, meetings, presentations and similar. The house is a protected cultural heritage, so the renovation and reconstruction will be supervised by conservators. The construction work is quite demanding, some parts need to be pulled down and then reconstructed into their original state, we have to use materials that were used originally: lime plaster, stone tiles on the roof, a wooden mezzanine construction and other. We have decided to raise one part of the funds for the realization of the project by a crowdfunding campaign, thus the project can be supported via the Bona Fides Invest platform.
Who has supported the campaign so far?
The campaign has so far been supported by 307 people and legal entities,among which are Municipality Podbablje, Split- Dalmatia county, as well as our renowned footballer Zvonimir Boban.
Why have you decided for crowdfunding?
We have decided for crowdfunding because we have estimated that this way of fundraising will help us reach a wider range of possible donators. Friends, members and associates of the Collective have supported me in the preparation and implementation of the campaign. I will mention some of them: Petar Ujević, Filip Ujević, Marija Lozo Ujević, Iva Ždero, Marko Ivanišević, Max Grbavac, Marijana Pezo, Nina Tolić, Anđela Čuljak, fra Oliver Marčinković, Mario Ljubičić, campaign ambassadors Siniša Ružić and Vedran Mlikota, Paralympian Ivan Katanušić, Primary School S. S Kranjčević Lovreć, poet Ivan Babić, and we have also recieved support from the media: HTV, Jutarnji list, Portal Narod.hr, Slobodna Dalmacija, and especially Radio Split. I am grateful to all reporters from the stated media for their support and promotion of the project Home of Words Imotski and the crowdfunding campaign. I am also grateful to my associates who have been helping as backup and to all who have supported the project with their donations.
What does art mean to you and how do you evaluate movements in art today?
I have spent a great deal of my life trying to run away from art, and every time it would find me. Recently I met a few foreigners in front of a shop, their trolleys were full of crisps and similar food and I thought: ‘Oh, dear. What kind of food!’, on the other hand, there are various specialties and culinary extravangancies, and in between there are home-made dishes. Something similar is happening in art, that is how I see today’s movements, there is everything ‘from crisps to Michelin stars’.
Besides being active in the field of culture and art, you are extremely active in humanitarian and spiritual work. You have received the award Ponos Hrvatske for your work, and your fellow-citizens have voted you for The Person of the Year. Which cultural and spiritual activities are you involved in? Where do you get the strength and motivation for such engagement?
As far as humanitarian work is concerned I would highlight my engagement in fundraising for children in Bukawa in the Republic of Kongo, in cooperation with sister Romana Baković, who has been working as a missionary in Kongo for almost four decades. We mostly help in the education of children, but adult women as well.
For a long time I was a member of the Neocatechumenical Way, however, as I was a member of a prayer community at the same time, I had to choose one of the two. I am also rather engaged in the Dramatic presentation of the Passion in Imotski, and my favourite activity is, as long as I still can, the making of the Nativity scene. For years I was a regular minister to our old priest fra Vjeko Vrčić, as long as until his death. I recall our morning masses with great joy. Daily Communion is the main source of strength and it leads me through my life.
Your message to our readers at the end of our conversation.
I wish that they choose to be happy every day because there is always a light we can look at or we can turn on ourselves. And, of course, I’m inviting them to support our project Home of Words Imotski on the link.
Interview led by: Zoran Rajn
Photo/video: private archive of Vesna Ujević