Anthology of Slovenian Australian Musicians by Katarina Vrisk

Slovenian Australian community is richer for another valuable record of creativity of its people. Katarina Vrisk spent six years researching, conducting interviews and writing Anthology of Slovenian Australian Musicians which brings an excellent overview of the rich musical activity in the community in the last sixty years and recognises the achievement of a few outstanding musicians of Slovenian background. 

The book launch will be in Club Triglav in Sydney on Sunday, 20 March.

Details:  664 pages, over 1300 photographs
Th book includes seven chapters (Soloists - Vocal and Instrumental, Small Ensembles - Vocal and Instrumental, Choirs, Bands, Notable Musicians & Others) and five 'Special Features' (The Accordion, Early Slovenian Cultural Evenings, Slovenian Youth Concerts, Lojze Slak Tour 1972, Slovenian Bands Play for Other Ethnic Groups).

In addition, there is a CD pack (2 disks) with 70 excerpts of artists from within the book also available for purchase.

Price: Book $95, CD Pack $30 Postage within Australia: $20 (1 book OR 1 book and CD pack)

To order, you can contact Katarina Vrisk by email or you can write to her postal address: 

PO Box 2031
Oakleigh VIC 3166.

Order form is also available here. You can fill it in, follow payment instructions and wait for your book to appear in your mail box within seven working days.

Art Exhibition: Andrew Potočnik in Bolin Bolin Gallery, Melbourne, 24 March - 24 April 2016

There are many creative people in the Slovenian Australian community. Some of them have gained international recognition yet the community often remains  unaware of the extent of their achievement. Andrew (Andrej) Potočnik is one of them: his works in wood awe and inspire many woodworkers as well as art lovers in Australia and overseas. While he is well known to the readers of magazines such as the Australian Wood Review, Woodturning and American Woodturner, we as a community should perhaps get to know him better too.

Every enthusiastic woodworker knows how hard it is to turn a piece of wood into something useful, such as a bowl or a jewellery box. It requires a lot of skill to turn it into a high quality finished product. It takes, however, an artist to turn it into a piece of art.

Andrew Potočnik is an accomplished and highly skilled artist. His CV lists twenty-two exhibitions in Australia and the USA; his works are owned by art museums and galleries worldwide (e.g., Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Contemporary Museum of Hawaii, Minneapolis Institute of Art to name just three from a much longer list) and his works appeared in many publications, such as The Art of Turned Bowls by Richard Raffan or Sacred Vessels published by the National Jewish Centre for Learning and Leadership in New York.

Here is what he says himself about his involvement with the amazing world of wood:

Ever since childhood, whenever I wanted, or needed, to make something, I found wood to be the first material I turned to. It wasn’t always the best choice, but it was a material I felt comfortable with, and one that I could convert into whatever I needed.

At high school, I met a teacher who encouraged creative use of wood, setting convention aside in order to encourage aspects that were radical at that time. He encouraged me to salvage and recycle wood, and even worse, he taught me to appreciate wood for its colour, smell, feel, grain and any other intrinsic quality it may have.
With an introduction like this, where else could I go, but continue to explore all those wonderful qualities every piece of wood conceals, just needing a sympathetic cut to expose it to those who see it as nothing more than a renewable resource, ready to be exploited, rather than appreciated!

Now, I gain enormous enjoyment from seeing how people from other cultures explore their wood, how they expose and celebrate its beauty, and how it’s integrated into their culture and general existence.
As an artist, I continually find inspiration to explore new directions in creating objects from wood.
As a teacher, I try to pass information on to my students, hoping that they too will be inspired to explore wood. Celebrating it as a living material that grows around us, as a material that can give voice to ideas conjured in our minds, as a material that says something about our culture and world.

You can enjoy Andrew Potočnik's work at Bolin Bolin Art Gallery in Bulleen, Victoria where he shares the exhibition space with another well-known artist Lene Kuhl Jakobsen. The exhibition "Things of Wood and Clay" opens on Wednesday, 23 March, and will remain open to general public from 24 March to 24 April 2016.

How to make 'butarce'

by Franciska and Irene Sajn

Slovenia is a predominantly Catholic country with various customs and traditions.  One marvelous tradition celebrated (the Sunday before Easter) Palm Sunday is the making of the colourful palm known as 'butarca'.  Basically it involves tying together greenery and coloured ribbons into a hand held bouquet.  These bunches of greenery differ regionally in appearance (size, shape, colour).  But all are taken to church for blessing on Palm Sunday and are then kept within the home for good luck/ protection till the following year.

Traditionally as palm branches were not available within Slovenia the locals would take olive branches instead for blessings. In my home village of Knežak as a family we would all attend the Palm Sunday service taking olive branches for blessings.  The boys in the village would race around and it would become a competition on who had the biggest branch and they would poke/ hit each other (for fun) with them.  The church 'mežnar' (man that was in charge of the church) was forever looking out for the boys during the church service, keeping them still.  It was amazing they still had branches to take home.  The blessed palms were then kept all year, with the old palm branches burned and used to bless our home.

Attending the Slovenian Church: The Mission of Ss Cyril and Methodius, in A’Beckett Street, Kew, I joined the mother group along with many others under the guidance of the late father Bazilij Valentine OFM and the first group of Slovenian sisters.  All had a great enthusiasm in developing, sharing and keeping alive our Slovenian traditions.  It was here in Melbourne I learnt to make the colourful 'butarce' that I take to church each year.

The first group of sisters arrived in Melbourne on Palm Sunday acquiring a home a few streets away from the church called Slomšek House.  Mrs Draga Gelt spoke to Sister Silvestra and brought up the idea of teaching us 'how to make a butarca'.   Mrs Lucija Srnec invited the church's mother group along with Sister Silvestra back to her house and along with Mrs Draga Gelt we were shown this tradition from their region in Slovenia.  We were told to bring an open mind and it was here we were first given instructions.   We were all very excited.  From there the following year we were invited back to Slomšek House.  The sisters provided the greenery and ribbons and we had a very interesting and enjoyable afternoon.  Some of our attempts not so successful, but Sister Silvestra was very encouraging and had something nice to say about all the butarce made that afternoon.  These were taken to the church on Palm Sunday and for a small donation the money raised always went towards a good cause.

Later years as our group grew we started to make butarce on the church grounds in the room used as a class room, the Saturday before Palm Sunday.  Everyone was welcomed, young/old and everyone was found a task even it it involved cutting up branches or ribbons which was very helpful.

Each year as I attend mass I am stopped by neighbours admiring and asking about the butarca I carry.  I am always happy to promote Slovenia and share our customs.  These days the butarca that I have kept from the previous year I sprinkle the greenery onto my garden bed (as it has been blessed).

In 2014 I was proud and honoured that we could share our passion of the Slovenian tradition of the butarca with our local parish church Sacred Heart, Kew.  Archpriest Michael Kalka invited the Archbishop of Melbourne to join in the mass service for that year’s Palm Sunday celebrations and together they both carried one.  

This year under Very Rev Ciril Bozic OFM OAM EV we will be making butarce at The Mission of Ss Cyril and Methodius, in A’Beckett Street, Kew on the 19 March 2016 and everyone is welcomed to attend (from beginners to the experienced).  As our group is now not as large as it once was we hope that the younger generation will keep this tradition alive.  Even today for a small donation the money rasied on Palm Sunday still goes towards a good cause.  For those that are unable to attend but would still like to learn how to make a butarca, please have a look at the pdf file belowWonderful to have the Slovenian tradition preserved with our family/ friends.

The butarca does not only represent preserving our rich Slovenian cultural tradition but also  commemorating the memory of the coming of Christ into Jerusalem. 

Slovenians in Geelong and their Association

by Joe Ramuta 

The Australian Slovenian Association Ïvan Cankar” Inc. is located in Geelong, a city of approximately 260.000 population in the State of Victoria, Australia. The city lies on the shores of Corio Bay and is located about 80 kilometres south west of Melbourne, the capital city of Victoria. The Association was established in 1955, after a small number of Slovenian immigrants met in 1954 and decided to establish a club which was officially registered the following year. As the first Slovenians started arriving to Australia only after the Second World War, there were not many members. Most were employed by the Ford Motor Company, International Harvester and a few smaller companies. Soon they bought a house allotment for a club building but decided it was too small and sold it.

The present land of 5 acres was acquired in 1969 and a hall was built in 1974-75. During 1983 -85, it was extended to accommodate up to 300 people. Then in 1992 we added a sports pavilion with 6 bocce lanes which are also used for inter-club bocce competitions.

Since the beginning, there have been 22 presidents leading the club of whom 11 are no longer alive and many older members have also already passed away. In their memory, we erected a Triglav lookalike monument and a typical Slovenian chapel.  Most of the members are actively involved with every-day activities, including Slovenian language classes and cultural activities.

On the weekend of 7th and 8th of November 2015, we celebrated 60th anniversary of its inception. There were many invited dignitaries, including the Ambassador Helena Drnovšek Zorko, members of the state Parliament and the local government. The Association is also affiliated with the Council of Slovenian Organizations of Victoria, trough which we maintain close links with Slovenia and organize visits by Slovenian artists and musicians. Trough this Council we also participate in Slovenian festivals which are held biannually and hosted each time by another of four Victorian member clubs.

As the original immigrants are slowly getting older and the number is diminishing, it is now hoped that the younger, Australian-born members and the new immigrants from Slovenia will continue to uphold the Slovenian culture and tradition. Many of them are married to partners of other nationality; however, so far it looks pretty promising that the club will survive for generations to come and the sound of Slovenian music will continue to echo within the walls and the polka will be danced by the young and the old alike.