The school has consistently developed the talents of its young photographers over several years. In 2015, pupils from the school again took part in the 'International Heritage Photographic Experience', a culutural initiative started in Catalonia in 1996 with the aim of encouraging young photographers - under the age of 21 - around the world to record their particular cultural heritage visually, in order to understand and appreciate it more deeply. The project started as a local initiative, which was then expanded into an ambitious worldwide scenario with the loftiest ideals: "Why was the Experience made international? The reason, once again, lies with education. What had proved to be highly successful in Catalonia would surely work well in other places. But above all there was another aim: the perception of the cultural richness created through countless personal contributions dealing with the same monument could be enormously amplified by making the IHPE international, and demonstrate, experimentally, the fathomless diversity of the world heritage of the various peoples, and of their interpretations. Although the educational basis was the same, such a large change in scale made the perception of this universal diversity a new aim in itself."
With the support of the Council of Europe, the project expanded, so that by 2010 it encompassed 66 countries over 4 continents, engendering some one-and-a-quarter million photographs by 300,000 young photographers.
Croatia's participation is co-ordinated by the Croatian Photographic Association, which has overseen the contributions of 2,662 young photographers and 24,431 photographs within the project to date.
In Croatia, the 2015 project was distilled into an exhibition of some of the best photographs from around the world, featuring 68 young photographers from 35 countries. Zlata Medak, who heads the Croatian Photographic Association Youth Programme, selected the pictures which would be on show in Croatia. In Jelsa, the exhibition opened on February 8th 2016, in the little Gallery 'Kravata', next to St. John's Chapel. Eleven young Croatian photographers were represented in the exhibition, including two from Jelsa's Elementary School, Ana Milatić and Benjamin Peronja.
The pictures on display were simply stunning, capturing a wide variety of colourful and evocative scenes reflecting different cultures and traditions. Benjamin Peronja took the beautifully timed photograph of the 'Za Križen' procession nearing its conclusion in bright sunshine early on Good Friday morning, 2015. The 'Za Križen' Procession is included in UNESCO's Intangible Heritage List. Ana Milatić's contribution was a mystical image of Vrboska's fotified Church of Our Lady of Mercy, seen top right in the series below.
The Jelsa exhibition was opened with a little ceremony which included poetry and text readings and singing by the school pupils, followed by refreshments. The gallery, though small, provides a pleasing, well-lit space for exhibitions of this kind.
It was good to see Jelsa's newly appointed Tourist Board Director providing active support for the proceedings. Ivo Duboković's evident energy and enthusiasm augur well for the next phase in Jelsa's tourism. He is seen below in conversation with teacher Katija Barbić and the head of school, Tanja Ćurin. Ivo's wife Adela, a committed and effective eco-activist, is in the foreground. Mrs Ćurin and her dedicated staff have good reason to be proud of their school's achievements.
The founders of the International Heritage Photographic Experience have expressed their beliefs movingly:
If just a few of Jelsa's schoolchildren carry this message forward with them into adulthood, they will be well placed to make the world that little bit better.
© Vivian Grisogono 2016