Branka Marinović from Otok near Sinj is a versatile person – a housewife, mother, and seamstress who has a special interest in folk costumes, tradition and customs.
For the past few years, she’s been designing and sewing folk costumes from the Sinj and Cetina regions, and collecting rare artifacts from the ancient times which once took up space in cellars, kitchens, rooms, and pantries…
Ms Marinović explains she feels a special connection with cultural heritage, folk customs and costumes, as well as ethnography. Last weekend, at the Feast of St Luke in Otok, she opened an interesting exhibition of folk costumes and antiquities which are her most prized possessions thanks to her family which has been collecting cultural heritage items for years now, particularly from the Cetina Region. This exhibition, held at the Music School, was organized to celebrate the tenth anniversary of her work in collecting folk artifacts and designing folk costumes. Her contribution was acknowledged by a well-known Croatian ethnologist, Dinka Đeldum Alaupović. The exhibition was a success, which comes as no surprise since such events are rare in this world of ours, filled with computers, smart phones and other modern technologies.
Terracon News visited Otok, and this interesting exhibition by Ms Marinović who told us, among other things, that ever since she was a child, she showed great interest in customs thanks to her family members who taught her how to sew folk costumes, and inspired her to continue their work.
Ms Marinović: ”First of all, this is my passion. Slowly but surely, I started designing and sewing folk costumes, and already ten years have passed… I have my own sewing shop which is mainly focused on making folk costumes.”
Interviewer: ”Have you ever imagined that some day you’d have your own folk artifact and costume collection full of rich colors or did it just come naturally?”
Ms Marinović: ”It came naturally, one detail at a time, collecting folk artifacts, and so the passion I shared for such things led me to start creating my own costumes.”
Interviewer: ”Our readers will get to see pictures of all your designs, and playfulness of fabrics and colors of the Croatian heritage. Can you tell us what is there to see at the Music School, during the Feast of St Luke in Otok?”
Ms Marinović: ”So, I’ve combined my collection of folk artifacts with folk costumes I designed myself so as to create a finished product, and try to step out of the premises of my own shop, to play a little bit with colors, as you said. As for my design, my new creations can easily be noticed. It’s my latest work.”
Interviewer: ”These are folk costumes from the Sinj and Cetina regions. What are some other things we can see here?”
Ms Marinović: ”You can see folk costumes from Vrlika which I find very interesting. I started working on this costume type several years ago; it’s very demanding… I’m proud of myself. I think it turned out pretty good.”
Interviewer: ”We can also see rare artifacts that once belonged to old cellars, kitchens…”
Ms Marinović: ”These are all my personal belongings which I’ve been collecting for years. You see, my husband was born in Korita at the foot of Kamešnica, and there I found a lot of artifacts, and I still own a lot of things from home, a Singer sewing machine given to me by my mother, sieve, hand woven basket, and so on.”
Interviewer: ”Old chairs, beds… Centuries-old.”
Ms Marinović: ”Yes. It was misplaced in old cellars, and I’ve made it a part of my small collection.”
Interviewer: ”Is it difficult to make Croatian folk costumes?”
Ms Marinović: ”The folk costumes are very time-consuming but it’s not difficult.”
Interviewer: ”What textiles do you use?”
Ms Marinović: ”Mostly felt. For women’s costumes, there’s brocade, for girls, there’s calico and /incomprehensible/. We have women pieces – aprons, headdress…”
Interviewer: ”From your own experience, to what degree are people interested in such historical things if you take into consideration today’s fast-paced lifestyle?”
Ms Marinović: ”I was skeptical prior to this exhibition but I’m pleased to see the number of visitors, and especially the youth, which makes me even more happy. The interest in folk costumes is growing…”
Interviewer: ”Who are you designing your costumes for? Perhaps organizations which are trying to preserve cultural heritage, or different institutions?”
Ms Marinović: ”So I’ve designed a lot of folk costumes, the very first ones for the Otok National Folk Dance Ensemble, then for the Brnaze National Folk Dance Ensemble, in Hrvace, in Muć which is characterized by slightly different folk costumes, with more colors and embroidery details. I was honored to be given such an opportunity.”
Interviewer: ”Have you thought of presenting your folk costumes at a fashion show?”
Ms Marinović: ”Actually, I did organize a small scale fashion show in Tijarica where Otok and Gala National Folk Dance Ensembles presented the folk costumes. I also organized a fashion show featuring old dresses which were popular some 20 or 30 years ago. Folk type of dresses.”
Interviewer: ”So when you look at your folk costumes and rare artifacts, what do you feel?”
Ms Marinović: ”Great satisfaction. When I finish a folk costume, I stop for a bit to admire it because when I observe a finished product in such a way… Or sometimes I find something that needs to be improved… All in all, great satisfaction.”
Interviewer: ”Are you able to pass your love of culture and art on to others?”
Ms Marinović: ”I try. It would mean a lot to me to pass it on to my daughters. The older one isn’t really into it but the younger one is, and shares my passion. We’ll see what happens.”
Interviewer: ”Yes. One last question. Being a true artist, do you have a message for our readers?”
Ms Marinović: ”Well… I’ll let others decide if I’m an artist. I would be very happy if younger people would be more interested in this. And I wish to continue doing this because financially speaking, it’s not easy… Simply put, I really want to continue my work.”
Here are pictures from the said exhibition, as well as several pictures of folk costumes, customs and national folk ensembles which were a part of the Feast of St Luke in Otok.