International art and cultural exchange
Borders exist only in the human mind. We know that. So, what is usually called international does nothing but reduce our human interaction to the bare idea of nations, politics and religions. In contrast, our idea and our work plead for the opposite - there should be no borders or separations between humans and cultures imposed on them by others. We are all different, and as such should be open to one another and exchange our views for the better of all. In this section you can read about our international work and activities that we have organized in the past years.
Right at the very beginning we named ourselves an International ceramics center, stating that way that our work is not and can not be captivated between borders, any borders. This attitude lead us to organize international art colonies, to participate in big international exhibitions and projects and to organize our own exhibitions and cross border events. On this page we give a summary of the past years, providing links to relevant pages and sources. To see more pictures (chronologically) go to the gallery page.
In the beginning
It all started in 2006 with the organization of our first international ceramics colony. There were 20 participants from Croatia, Belgium and the Netherlands. It was the very beginning of our project, as well as the beginning of the friendship and cooperation with Lou Smedts, with whom we have achieved many of our international projects. It was also a building challenge to get everything done on time, but we succeeded.
From 2006 to 2008 every year we organized an international ceramics colony where artists from Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, etc. participated and learned something new. Our activities ranged from working with paper clay, building temporary kilns, raku and pit-fire firings to glaze experimenting.
4th international ceramists colony lasted from 2nd to 10th of August 2009 at the International ceramic center Atelier Janja Gora. It was held to showcase the traditional eastern decoration technique of the Japanese teacup ‘CHAWAN’.
Nineteen participants from Belgium, Croatia, the Netherlands and Serbia under the professional leadership of Mr. Lou Smedts (International ceramic study center 'The last house' from Belgium) have had the chance to meet traditional glazes and way of firing.
Lots of new and rediscovered stuff were discussed and learned about. From the very theory of the technique and its difference between what nowadays known is as Raku, or American barbecue raku.
Ido, the mother of all raku was meant to produce teacups that are usable, a use-ware, and they were meant to be made fast because of great demand. Glazes were designed to withstand the temperature shock and yet to stay stable so that they can be used for tea. Of course, all of that had to look pretty, with colours and shine, and it had took the old masters years and years of experimenting until they came up with all the varieties that we have experienced during this workshop. IDO, Hagi, Raku; all of them in their own specific ways.
During the colony there were 6 kilns burning every day, lots of different glazes, pieces burned up to 4 times to get the results that we wanted. Some beautiful pieces were produced, but some did not make it to shine in their glory. It was sad, but also a part of the learning process that we all came to experience.
We had three gas raku kilns at our disposal, two small charcoal kilns (originally used in Japan for small scale chawan production) and one wood fired kiln, especially built for this workshop. We would like to thank our friends from the company Bosio, a supplier of ceramic kilns and materials for letting us use their gas kilns without the charge and for building with us our first honhgamma.
To give the whole manifestation a grand closing and representation, on Friday, 7th of August 2009, we held an open day in our atelier. People from the area, but also from whole Croatia came to see and feel the atmosphere of the place and the people.
The vocal group Pelister graced the visitors with a great concert of traditional Croatian and Macedonian music, while they enjoyed a good glass of slivovitz, wine and roasted pork (traditional meal of the region).
For the participants of the workshop we organized three excursions in the area to give them the opportunity to see and learn more about the area they came to visit. Besides a visit to the village center and river springs, they had a picturesqe train trip through the surrounding hills and at the end visited the Plitvice lakes (30 km from the atelier), the worlds famous national park.
This marvelous exhibition was held 17 times in 10 different countries, on 3 continents, with more than 1000 participating artists among 5000 applicants. A fascinating project and a great experience. One exhibition that deserves our attention the most is the one organized by our atelier in Juraj Šporer art pavilion in Opatija, a famous tourist location in Croatia.
It was the first exhibition of this scale that we organized, which went very well, so we decided back then that we are going to do more of that.
and catalogue design
Since 2009 we are helping the team of 'Ceramic art project', an international non-profit organization by designing the catalogues for a series of other international exhibitions. Click on the name to see the catalogue.
Chawan expo Opatija, Croatia, 2011
Happiness, France, 2021
In 2013 we built our first anagama (Janjagama), a big wood fired kiln.
It is a kiln built following the far-eastern ancient technique of reaching high temperatures (1300 - 1400 °C) by using wood as fuel. Burned wood produces ash that turns into glaze on these high temperatures, and pots from the kiln all become highest quality stoneware.
Mr. Lou Smedts donated the heavy bricks that we transported from Belgium and also helped us build it. We began in June 2013. and two months later we had our first firing.
After that 10 more firings took place, transforming our atelier into a magical spot of
co-creation and worship of fire. Artists from Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Austria, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, France, USA, Japan, China, Taiwan, they all came here to share their knowledge and to learn and experience a wood firing, the oldest and most intriguing and challenging way of making pottery and ceramic art. The last firing of 2017 damaged the kiln so bad, that it has not been fired since. This year (2020) we are about to repair it and to start using it again. You can find out more about Janjagama on the pages dedicated only to her.
One particular firing of 2015 was being held at the same time as an international exhibition organized in Samobor's city museum (near Zagreb) as part of the program for the International museum days. The name of the exhibition was 'Atelje Janja Gora, the journey' with a selection of international artists and works from our children workshop program.
Atelje Janja Gora, the jurney
Samobor city museum, Samobor, Croatia, May 2015
The next international exhibition we organized was in 2015. It was held in Samobor's city museum. Samobor is a city near by the capital of Croatia, Zagreb, who invited us to put up the exhibition as a part of international museum day.
The exhibition named 'Atelier Janja Gora, the journey' featured 13 artists from Croatia, Slovenia, Belgium and the Netherlands. See the catalogue of the exhibition here.
More clay less plastic
International travelling exhibition, Italy
Since the year 2017 we are a part of an international travelling exhibition called 'More clay less plastic', a project whose goal is to make people aware of plastic pollution and offer them more environmentally friendly traditional ceramic ware for their daily life needs. As we actively promote the same idea we thought that joining this project just fits our profile. More about the project here.
MORE CLAY LESS PLASTIC has basically three targets: to invite people all over the world to rethink their everyday utensils, to substitute plastic with more sustainable and recyclable materials and to find a craftsman in their own territory.
International ceramics exhibition 'Water, fluid of life'.
Plitvice Lakes national park - June 8th to 16th 2019
Aquatika, Karlovac - September 26th to October 16th 2019
So far the biggest, most challenging and most beautiful international and local project was started in 2019 by staging a exhibition with water as the main inspiration. We proposed the idea to Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of the world's most famous national parks and they embraced it.
We wanted to show the world the link between art and nature, its protection and preservation. We invited our artist friends from all over the world to participate. 45 artists responded, as well as people connected with the water theme in different ways, making the exhibition more of an event - with lectures, daily trips, movie screenings and presentations of similar projects.
We hereby thank the NP Plitvice lakes for hosting this event in the year when the park celebrated it's 70th anniversary and 40 years of being enlisted in the UNESCO protected heritage list.
While the exhibition was going on, we proposed a direct follow up of the exhibition in 'Aquatika', a sweet water aquarium in Karlovac, which had just become a member of the world water museums network. A few months later, visitors of the aquarium could also enjoy the same works. This opened us up to more thinking after the exhibition. We saw the educational and artistic potential in showing the exhibition even more, so we asked the participants to leave their works to us. And most of them did it, for which we are very grateful.
So the show will go on, throughout the Lika and Karlovac county region building up a network of places where we shared our ideas and picked up new ones, celebrating water. The concept is very flexible, just as water is, so every other exhibition will be an individual show within itself including different activities and new works that will arrive.
After the whole show travels for some time, it will find its permanent place in Plaški, our home town with more than 50 fresh water springs and its nature of exceptional beauty, that way enriching the cultural heritage of Plaški, Croatia, Europe and the World, as was our primary goal.