Childhood was the most beautiful period of my life. It was a time when I had nothing, when living was hard, poverty and hunger was all around us. Houses were built by workers' earning very low wages so there was no money spare to buy toys.
This did not dishearten us as we looked for them in nature. A spotty ladybird, a hard-working ant, a magical lightning bug, a fast centipede, slimy worms, a frightening mole cricket , these were our impressive toys. Among them, the mischievous grasshopper was my favourite toy. Many times I prayed for my grasshopper to jump highest and furthest, many times I was proud of it, often hiding myself behind its abilities and skills. Grasshopper is my favourite toy from childhood.
Hey Carli, let’s go to a tea party. Today we have a super day, it is your birthday!!!
On the table we have teas of all aromas. For you “call from the wild” and I will drink “sweat memories”.
Close your eyes and make a wish, but don’t tell me until it comes true. Do you know who else’s birthday it is today? It’s the girl where you lived first. Do you remember...
I was five when I first saw you on a shop shelf, you waved to me and I wished for us to be friends. I showed you to my mother and with a smile she agreed to our friendship. She let me carry you all the way home even though you were too big for me. The same evening we went to a girl’s birthday party. You were supposed to be her birthday present and I didn’t know about it. Over the years I looked for you, cried until I found you again alone and in rags at the back of her house. Oh what happiness when we met again and mother agreed for me to take you home.
I mended you as best as I could, and here we are now...together we await a new family member, a beautiful new baby, and your new friend. Long live!!!! My dear, you deserved one big colourful surprise...here is a painting I made for you. Ha, ha, gave you big whiskers, and a tail, Carli, you are beautiful.
I wish you a very happy birthday, yours Jeca Pereca.
various toys by wrapping cardboard with cloth and using straw to make houses and
figures which I glued onto the cardboard. One of these creations I still have, it is a bird house, my favorite because for me birds are magical creatures that fly unobstructed all over the world. They all sing their songs about the world.
My father, having seen me playing and talking to birds, made five cloth balls for me representing five continents, each marked with letters. I imagine birds coming back to their bird house and telling stories of their journey. Birds, olive trees and the need to feel free always inspired my art.
As a child I imagined myself as a warrior, my weapon was of course a sling and shot.
As I pulled my sling out of my back pocket and took my aim, Gulliver my imaginary
enemy would flee. Creating the sling was of particular importance, I searched and
carefully selected the best willow branches from down by river Tara, an inner bicycle tyre and the softest calf leather to make my sling. The best part was in testing it out for the first time. I aimed at bottles on a rubbish tip, windows at a
deserted old house and occasionally at a neighbour’s window. I remember
watching a popular film ‘A Golden Sling’ starring the famous actor Miodrag Petrović- Čkalja, after which slings became an essential toy for boys and a symbol of my childhood.
I am sure that if I could conjoin my past and my present I would use a sling to aim at the windows through which children today see little of reality.
The most natural relationship of all times is with a dearest toy. My doll is a friend, a younger sister or a daughter depending on the circumstances as I play with my doll in my imagination. She has a name, a personality, hair that you can comb, dresses that you can change, you can take her on walks and travels… these are first reflections of adulthood and the best time of our life.
As I create a painting of a doll, a gift for my grandfather, memories come back to me of a cloth doll named Miškica which I played with as a child. As I look at the blue of her eyes I see a bare footed girl by a stream with her father and brother. My father is fishing and my brother and I await with excitement for his silvery catch.
Then the time ran slowly, our water was pure, we ate fruit freshly picked from branches above and starry clear nights were full of falling stars... the certainty of my childhood was a warm hug in my mother's arms and her soft voice. Many happy memories make me long for these past times. I hope that my grandchildren, later in their life connect with their toys as they play with them now. Their time may not be as mine has been, but it is always worth remembering. I hope they remember their childhood and remember the toys that I gave them and through them me.
During the last century no-one had a real ball; we played in village meadows and made our own balls from anything to hand. We used old cloth or socks wrapped, tied with string and then sewn with a needle and thread to create the best shape possible. That last phase in making my "KRPENJAČA" was a particularly happy time but anxious as more often than not there would be a bulge in my form that would not let the ball role evenly. Even a perfectly shaped ball was heavy when dry and even heavier when it ended up in a river. The ball did not bounce, so we could not do a head kick. I remember an occasion when a ball was passed to me and I had to do a head kick to place it in the undefended goal. The ball hit me in my forehead and almost stuck to me as it was soaking wet. I felt the full force of the ball and fell to the ground, feeling shame in front of the other players. This did not discourage me as my desire to play with any kind of ball was strong and I continued to make cloth balls often using my mother’s old rugs and odd socks. Even after I could afford to get a proper ball, my love for my old cloth balls has stayed with me today.
A long time ago, about 1950s, in Boka Kotorska, when there were no toys to buy, or at least so my sisters and I thought, we wondered how our friend had so many little dolls. We did not have one doll between the three of us and she had at least seven as she had several birthdays during one year. My birthday is on 2nd May which is International Workers’ Day, and my mother always told me that the shops were closed. But, you never know what good comes from these experiences.
One day while my mother was sewing something, I asked her to give me fabric
patches which she did not need and with a little help from her I made a little doll , a patch doll named ‘Popice’. Then, I made some for my sisters. What a party we had in the old olive tree hollow: patch dolls, pieces of colourful glass, shells...
Maybe this was not something extraordinary, but we knew how to find a real joy.
I never had any particular or special toy as a child, I liked best to improvise and make my own toys from whatever material was to hand. Mostly the toys were small figures which were often broken then remade to become different and unique. They were created from wood splinters, branches, acorns, seeds and bits of old wire. I managed to save one that is particularly dear to me and that inspired my art work today.
It is the same today; I still improvise, make figures and still like to play.
I did not have many toys; mainly I had ‘live’ play things. One of these is still with me, it is the hedgehog Bocko. We lived as old time settlers in the centre of the town where we kept a goat, a pig and later on a hedgehog in the back yard. Bocko the hedgehog has been with me all of my life and from him I have learnt a lot. I was a sickly child in 1960’s, a time when Komisioni disease was wide spread with the shocking symptoms of a high fever for babies. During an attack I would foam at the mouth, get cramps all over that would suffocate me and leave me out of breath. My jaw would freeze and someone had to help by putting a finger or something in my mouth to keep it open and let me breathe. On one occasion I bit my uncle’s finger and no one was willing to do it again.
When playing with children I was frequently subdued and remained alone. One rainy day I came upon a hedgehog and I wanted to take it into my house but I started having an attack. I was frightened, suffocating and alone, I grabbed Bocko the hedgehog and immediately felt better.
Boco saved me and for that I will always be grateful. Nowadays I enjoy being with many of his offspring’s who live happily in my yard.
My brother snatched from my hands, and she came apart.
While I cried,
My mother stitched on her arm.
Running away from the uniformity of everyday and from a puppet-like controlled existence with predetermined movements, as if pulled on a string. I search for answers with my pen and paper.
Sacks full of masks
For every day
I forgot which one
Is his true face.
A pencil and a notebook took care of my childhood.
I cannot link my earliest childhood with any particular toy as at that time toys were not purchased like today, nor did we as children request them. We spent entire days outside, playing with each other in the beautiful, spacious meadows that we children loved more than any toy. Here we had freedom and spaciousness for all our imagination and creativity to come out. We invented a number of games from different kinds of things, we organised various competitions, playing and singing. What I liked most is a flower garden which we made from colourful meadow flowers, various stones and snails.
I have fond memories of the evenings when our parents often joined us in a passionate game of Ludo, this made me particularly happy.
As a girl, after the Second World War I dreamt of a doll, the doll that I kept with me all the way through my college days in Kamenari.
In 1946, when I travelled with my father to Kotor via Zelenika on foot to reclaim our things requisited in the war, we stopped off at a shop where on a shelf I saw a doll. My eyes must have shone with excitement and my father saw this and bought me the doll. She had blonde hair and a dress with many roses on the fabric so I named her Rosy. In time her hair came off and her dress was lost. I glued some wool on her head and made her a new white dress; this made her look like a Baroque lady. She was there to meet me every summer vacation, sadly in time I lost her. I gave a doll much like my old one to my granddaughter Lana.
VESNA PUPOVICMy memory
As a child I did not care for toys and rarely played with them. Instead I loved, and still love animals and I played with them. I remember the feeling that I did not belong to the planet I live on. At night when all were asleep I climbed onto the roof of my house and waited for outer space creatures to come for me and take me to my planet, the place where I belonged. Even today as an adult I occasionally feel as if I do not belong in this world, and that life has passed me by. It is only animals, my live childhood playmates that fill me with happiness and a purposeful existence.