From ancient crafts to future heirlooms, Croatia’s elegance and poise stretches beyond its aesthetic beauty. Be guided by experts in art and craftsmanship to uncover the area’s local treasures and make a long-lasting and enriching connection with a new facet of culture.
While Croatia is often associated with the youthful ideals of a holiday, offering postcard- worthy scenes of smooth, marble pavements and azure waves, the country is also steeped in folkloric traditions. A symbol of the country’s pastoral
roots is its national costume, which is traditionally embroidered with fine local lacework and silk. Try your hand at these crafts; not only will it educate you on local customs, but practical activities are proven to have deep psychological benefits. By balancing skills and challenges you can find a way to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, enhance confidence, test your cognitive abilities, and leave a new place feeling a real sense of accomplishment.
South-east of Dubrovnik, bordering Bosnia and Herzegovina, lies the valley of Konavle. In this region, silkworms have been bred since the 15th century, usually by women who would weave the shimmering threads into costumes of their own design. Take a trip to the leafy town of Gruda (less than an hour’s drive from Dubrovnik) where we will introduce you to Dubrovnik-born artist, Antonia Rusković Radonić for a private storytelling of the local silk production and embroidery.
Radonić studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Zagreb, and has a particular interest in Konavle traditions. At her shop, AR Atelier, which has bright ceramics piled high on every shelf and colourful textiles on all the walls, Radonić produces silk the way generations of Croatians have, by nurturing silkworms.
From March until November, you can see the creatures in all of their phases. You will be invited to study Radonić’s collection of national costumes, before practising the technique of embroidery making yourself. With a piece of cloth, thread and a needle you can choose from a selection of different patterns to sew. Inspired by the beauty of the surrounding hills as well as local customs, these fabrics help keep ancient traditions alive – and you are free to take them home and finish them at your leisure.
Silk weaving isn’t the only handicraft that features on Croatia’s repertoire. Over on the long, dramatic Adriatic isle of Pag, with its pebble beaches and moon-like terrain, there is a lace-making school – the only one in the whole of the country. The institution preserves the ancient artistry of Pag crochet lace, which was listed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. Walk through the nearby Pag Lace Gallery with a local guide who will highlight the most exceptional types of textiles and encourage you to try out the lace-making process for yourself.
While age-old crafts live quietly – but staunchly – on, contemporary art in the country is shaping its new wave. Split’s Meštrović Gallery is named after one of the most famous Croatian creatives of the 20th century – sculptor, painter, architect and writer Ivan Meštrović. Something of a national treasure, Meštrović donated many of his masterpieces to his homeland. Explore this Aladdin’s Cave with an expert to uncover Meštrović’s dramatic and colourful story.
From silk and lace weaving to modern art, take on this treasure trove of inspiration gathered from your journey and put it into practice. Pay tribute to all the diverse creative talent that Croatia has to offer by producing something yourself amongst the terracotta-coloured clay roofs and old stone walls of Split. In the exquisitely composed Dalmation city, contemporary artist Tea Morić Šitum – who is known for her bold palette and curious brushstrokes – welcomes visitors into her studio to experiment with paint.
Šitum begins a class with a demonstration of her painting style and then peppers the day with mini workshops on subjects such as colour theory, translucent layering, value contrast, expressive mark-making, dripping, etching, stamping, and drawing. Šitum strives to awaken your senses and emotions and encourages play through daubing and exercises that help you let go and connect to your intuition.
Carrier can ensure these creative experiences are tailor-made in advance to fit your interests and experience, whether you’re a professional artist or you’ve never held a paintbrush before.
The perfect base from which to explore the Dalmation Coast, One&Only Portonovi opens March 2021. This private retreat is hidden away in Boka Bay just an hour away from Dubrovnik, nestled in a fjord-like idyll on Montenegro’s Adriatic Sea. While away a few hours on the cobbled streets of the medieval town, relax with some water-front dining or charter a super yacht for a truly indulgent getaway.