Turku Castle was the location of the European Heritage Awards Ceremony dinner
Attending Europa Nostra Excellence Fair in Turku, former Finland capital, we were introduced with wonderful programs and projects about heritage. Each of representatives had 15 minute presentation and in that short time needed to present highlights of project. All of them were interesting and innovative – from preserving heritage in nature, interpolating something new in old cores to preserving or rehabilitation of old buildings. Then we heard something about new platforms and projects in education, research and awareness rising. Lots of project just stunned me in terms of collaboration of professionals and local people. We heard also about extraordinary researches in all kinds of projects – in libraries and workshops. That opened our eyes that heritage can be everywhere and that all kind of materials can provide us significant information.
As a Croatian and a conservator I am extremely proud that my country received such significant awards in heritage, above all because we were dealing with difficult times just 25 years ago. We had a war that lasted 4 years and significant amount of our heritage was destroyed. We are aware that out past and heritage is representing our richness and identity also now – when we are part of the European Union and when we are a significant tourist destination.
Let me introduce you to the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra 2017 Croatian winner in the category Conservation….It’s a small chapel from a village in North Croatia dedicated to Saint Martin.
It’s built from oak planks on brick foundations and covered with wooden roof with small bell tower. It has only one nave which ends polygonal in a small sanctuary. Before there was also a small porch but it was removed in 1736 when the vestibule was added.
Simple outside but bursting with colours inside. The Interior (790×360 cm) is a unique space decorated in folk manner. It’s covered with 88 wooden panels decorated with vegetative ornaments in bright colours. Small baroque altar is only part of movable inventory.
This Chapel stands near the river Kupa and it is a symbol of how local community surviving from floods, often taking place in this in this part of Croatia rich with water. Except it was gathering in the times of flood it was also central location for the celebration of Saint Martin and a place for memorial services.
This old chapel is built in the end of 17th century (first mention in records is 1699) but the factor which contribute biggest deterioration is roof leaking which caused significant damage in roof, walls and panels.
Renovation started in 2001 with research and preparation of big amount of documentation. Panelling was removed in 2002 and roof was consolidated. Main construction works were in between 2007-2012 and in the meantime panels were cleaned and partly reconstructed. All conservation and restoration works ended in 2015.
And here it is! Renovated! It’s typical type of Croatian vernacular architecture which can be seen in area. So charming and small.
Jury noticed this application because it united efforts from all of the sides – from local community, local craftsmen and also heritage professionals. The following words will explain better: This exemplary project has placed great importance in Croatia’s vernacular architecture, an aspect of a country’s heritage which has faced a decline in previous centuries. The delicate and fragile architecture has been respectfully and sensitively handled, and has enhanced the painted jewel-box like quality of this chapel. The excellent conservation of the painting is especially commendable, along with the way in which local craftspeople, the owners, and the community were encouraged to participate in the conservation process.
Award was received by the representatives of Croatian Conservation Institute who led the conservation works, in grand ceremony in Turku, Finland. After Turku, one more ceremony was organised in village Stari Brod. Except local representatives there were representatives of Croatian Conservation Institute and Ministry of Culture and also of Europa Nostra. The day was beautiful and appropriate to see beauty of this small chapel and also talk with colleagues and locals about future of our heritage.
Dedicated service to Heritage – short homage to one career
The local award ceremony for Ferdinand Meder was organised on the same day (22 May 2017) in the evening at the National library in Zagreb. Meder is an art historian and former Head of Croatian Conservation Institute who received the 2017 EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra award in the category Dedicated Service to Heritage.
His remarkable career started back in the 1970s and he took part in turbulent period of Croatian history and still lasts.
From early stages of education he was directed to conservation and restoration of national heritage. He established connections with national offices and world organisations like ICOMOS, ICOM and UNESCO and was responsible for upgrading education for heritage professionals. Apart that he institutionalise it and contribute in organisation of state offices.
After the war finished in 1995, he was Head of Institute who lead most significant and most complex actions of preservation of ruined monuments. Most of them were huge complexes like Eltz castle complex in Vukovar, East Croatia. He helped in organisation and in collaboration with international experts in resolving most demanding tasks.
He took part in putting our monuments in UNESCO world heritage list on which we are specially proud of like Diocletian’s palace in Split, Dalmatia.
Jury explained it like this:
Mr. Ferdinand Meder has instituted the profession of conservation and elevated educational standards in his country. He sets a fine example for public service in conservation. Mr. Meder has gone beyond the call of duty. Throughout the different ears of his country, he has adapted and has always worked in the interest of cultural heritage. Even in periods of conflict, he has exercised his unflinching dedication to the defence of heritage and has raised awareness in the international heritage sphere.