Slovenian handicrafts in Victoria

A collaborative project by the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum and the Institute for Slovenian Studies of Victoria

24 May 2007
This premier exhibition of handicrafts by Slovenian-Australians, of Victoria will be launched on the Web this year in September, by the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum, Ljubljana.

On display is a collection of contemporary handicrafts. The selection covers a diverse range of endeavour: artificial flowers, Idrija bobbin lace, crocheted objects, decorative objects, embroidered tableware, greeting cards, mosaics, patchwork, pottery, tapestry, and wood-turning.

The objects reveal individualistic approaches, and interests. Some are based on traditional Slovenian designs, others show new expressions of craft activity. Our attention is drawn to the identity of the creator and their relationship to their present environment. Certain works are arresting in the beautiful detail, are sensitively rendered, and captivate the eye. The handicrafts emanate from the creativity of these individuals and are inspired by the different Australian environment. In this way one can witness the continuity, and changes within a living cultural tradition, from past generations, and the expression of the rich cultural heritage from Slovenia.

Thus, the exhibition relates to the question of historical dimension of handicrafts and design; the connection to the past is maintained in traditional styles, and techniques. Diversity of craft is an enriching experience, and heightens the sense of time and place. As a body the display give pause to reflection on: the character and distinction of handicrafts in this age of new technologies, and mass-production.

An exhibition of this nature contributes to the visual record of cultural heritage and shows implicitly the value of different cultures and the expression of varied cultural activities wherever they may be found.

The idea for the project emerged from a discussion between Daša Koprivec, senior curator of the museum and Aleksandra Ceferin, of ISSV in Ljubljana, February 2006. A formal invitation was extended to D. Koprivec by ISSV and a grant provided by the Office for Slovenes Abroad funded her visit to Melbourne in May. Research was organized and coordinated by A. Ceferin. Slovenian organizations of Melbourne and Geelong were contacted, regarding creators of handicrafts, for a meeting, attended by all invited. It was held at Baraga House on 9 May, 2006. Daša Koprivec and Aleksandra Ceferin visited the “Slovenian Association Ivan Cankar”, Geelong, and homes where an overwhelming abundance of material was discovered. In the course of the year digitalized documentation of works, compilation of exhibit items and data were prepared and sent to Slovenia.

In 2008 the actual exhibition is to take place at the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum in Ljubljana. A series of online exhibitions of Slovenian handicrafts, web designed by Zavod Neuropolis, Ljubljana, is anticipated for other Australian states, Argentina, Canada, and the USA.

Exhibitors: Lidija Bole, Ema Bole-Kosmina, Mimica Bole, Sonia Benčič, Ana Marija Thomas (Brne), Marija Brne, Slava Burlovič, Marija Horvat, Lojze Jerič Anica Kodila, Anica Kodrič, Jože Kodrič, Ivanka Kontelj, Lojzka Kuhar, Julka Kure, Meta Lenarčič, Matilda Martinčič, Andrej Potočnik, Jože Ramuta, Lucija Srnec, Marija Uršič, Vida Vojvoda

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Aleksandra Ceferin
Aleksandra Ceferin

Aleksandra Ceferin (M.A., B.A., Dip.Ed.) has introduced Slovenian language as a school subject in Australian school system and founded the Slovenian Teachers' Association of Victoria in 1976. She has extensive experience in language education: as teacher, lecturer, curriculum coordinator, course writer, language consultant and manager, VCE State Reviewer and Chief Examiner. Since 1998 she has been the President of ISSV and the manager and chief editor of its projects. Aleksandra visits Slovenian annually, establishing and maintaining contacts with Slovenia, and initiating exchanges and cooperation between organizations. In 2004 she was the recipient of the National Education Award of RS Slovenia.