In 2011 I created and initated a pioneering arts education project FABRIKA. This three year project was the fruit of an extraordinary international collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery in London and the International Portrait Gallery in Bosnia and Herzegovina, supported by the British Council and Tuzla Council. FABRIKA was modeled on the learning programme of the National Portrait Gallery London, conceived in conversation with the manager of the NPG learning department and inspired by the online resources from the Campaign for Drawing.
It was a three-year programme which started with drawing games, collaborative drawings and competition inspired by the Big Draw. It drew from the history of salt production in the local area and the legacies of factory work from this region. It was extraordinary in the level of enthusiasm by which the project was taken on by the young people in Bosnia. It was also extraordinary in the commitment of people who worked, largely on voluntary basis, to bring about this pioneering youth art project in Bosnia. Youth Forum was started, which also delivered workshops and classes to younger children.
Fabrika in 2013 ended with Salt of the Earth, an artist-in-residence program engaging five UK artists to work with the Bosnian youth, supported by the British Council. Performances, alternative tour of the city, self-portrait workshop and exhibitions were the outcomes of the residency.
FABRIKA was groundbreaking in the perception of the local cultural leaders (the gallery director, the heads of the local authorities who funded the project, foreign consuls and others) – for the first time they could see what an inspired, imaginative and committed project (and based around the ‘simple thing’ such as drawing) could do for the community.