Saturday, 14 January 2012




My memory – His Highness the “GRASSHOPPER“
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 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.


At the time after the Second World War there was no choice of toys. In fact, there were no toys available to buy, which is why I relied upon my imagination. As a child I would play with straw, cardboard and bits of old cloth. With these I made
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.


My childhood memory is of a sling, an ancient weapon used by people throughout history, for example the ancient Romans and Greeks. This may sound a little naïve now, but the sling was a real weapon used in conflicts and wars. Its importance can be seen in a relief shown on Trajan’s column in Rome.
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.


My childhood memory - a doll.
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.


The toy of my childhood is a cloth ball "KRPENJAČA".
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.


My memory – ‘POPICE’
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.


My memory
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.


My favourite toy – ‘Bocko’
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 memory - I collected dolls, nupkins, read cartoons, which is what all children did where I lived. However, what was important to me and what made my childhood content was a notebook and pencil. Images and words all had such possibilities:

My cloth-made doll Ana (so I feared)
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.

Under the burden of a load
Sacks full of masks
For every day
A man
I forgot which one
Is his true face.
A pencil and a notebook took care of my childhood.

My memory - LUDO
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.


My memory
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.


My 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.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011




My Memory:

Donald Duck has been my friend and idol since I was very young kid. The most fun was to read about him. Donald is so human, you will recognize yourself many a time when he fail. His relationship with the three youngsters and Uncle Scrooge are also interesting and fun.

Now 52 years old, living in Croatia and Sweden, I always liked to paint and have had it as a hobby for a long time. There have been evening classes after work and creative painting days with friends. Painting always makes me happy, to create myself but also I find it inspiring to look at other peoples art.


Memory of Zita:
She was a lovely little blond with blue skirt, white blows and shoes. She gave me happiness and joy every day of my childhood. I played with her, washed her, combed her hair simply I loved her. On that day when I came back from school and before starting on my homework, I wanted to play, my doll was not there. ‘Mama, mama….where is my doll?’ I cried in shock and panic. ‘Today my sister came with her little girl and I let her play with your doll. But, when they left, she would not give it back, I let her borrow the doll’ mama said. I have no words to describe my sorrow, I cried for days. In time I went to my aunt with idea of getting my doll back. A few steps into the courtyard and I came upon my doll. She was not her beautiful self any more, one of her legs was missing, her hair was cut, and she was dirty. I cried, I felt desperate, they were mute and stunned by my reaction. They could never understand what the doll meant to me and what they have all done.

It took years for me to come to terms and to forgive my mama. After that my only wish was to get the biggest doll ever. This I have achieved.


My memory:
My early childhood, considering that I was born in 1943 was spent in a terrible war, and post war recession at the time when early childhood toys did not exist. However, because of this my early childhood has not been any less happy because then we spent more time socializing with our peers, neighbours, we played the whole days from morning to night especially over the holiday season; we played until parents called us in. During the summer we all went swimming together with our parents. At that time I particularly liked to play with rag dolls that I made myself and dressed them in their little dresses that I made myself. My brother got a rag ball that I made for him instead of a football. He played with it with his friends.

When toys became more affordable my childhood has already passed. However, as it happens my father got me a little dolly from one of his trips. I never played with her, but kept it all the same as a memory of my childhood without a doll.


My memory:
My dear grandfather gave him to me when I was a month old; that is why I don’t remember a single day without my Teddy called Menda. How did he get his name? It was probably, because I could not say Medo. I remember that before bed time I would fill my bed with toys. My bed was a boat, and Mendo was its Capitan. He was there to protect me from witches and sharks. Sometimes my bed changed into a castle, a fortress, or fields full of flowers, where chess pieces represented actors, coloured pencils, my doll Ana and Mendo played the main role. He was persistent and always victorious.


My memory:
A book of friendship
What is a book of friendship? For me it is a 'gift of memories'. My mother gave it to me for my tenth birthday. There inside are all of my friends from my elementary school; my two brothers; our neighbourhood children from a house where we lived for 14 years; even my teachers. Ten years of pure joy and happiness; the whole of my childhood is in this little book. How could I ever throw it away, I have kept it for 48 years already and I hope that my grandchildren may giggle when they see this old Slave custom of keeping a 'book of friendship'. I have kept it also because of my friend Mirjana's warm wishes for my future. Sadly, she died few years later.


My memory:
I still believe in Pinocchio! It all started during my early childhood, then I felt deep love and desire for that small creative toy. My wish came through and I gained a sincere friend that stayed with me, in my heart to this day. As I grew older I became more and more fascinated by this dear being. When I got older I became a puppeteer and gave my all to share my experience and skill with other people especially with youngsters so that the memory of Pinocchio that is beautiful remains alive. Because of this I want to thank you Pinocchio for you have made of me, a little child a man who still loves you ever more.



My memory:
I do not have a most treasured toy, but I have this knitted toy of Denise the menace, given to me by a lady I know. My attachment to inanimate objects began a long time ago. I work with rejected toys and cloth which have their own memory and communicate a narrative that is both personal and universal. My artwork is a visual memory of stories told to me as a child.


My memory:
I did not like dolls very much, but was given an expensive rubber baby doll, probably from America and she was called Elizabeth. I had a 'friend' who always told me her things were much better than mine, so I decided to show her how much better Elizabeth was than her doll and proceeded to draw heavily all over Elizabeth’s hands, feet and face with a biro, telling this girl that Elizabeth was very easy to clean and was magic. Needless to say, she continued to bear the scars for ever and was, I suppose, an original tattooed doll. My mum was not very pleased and no amount of cleaning stuff made any difference. I don’t know what happened to her, but she was no longer pretty and I felt guilty when I played with her. I hope I have been better at looking after my children. At least they are not covered in blue scribble at least; the bits on show are not!


My memory:
Name: Lila. I am about 9 years old. I have been ill with respiratory problems for a long time and was forced to spend much time in bed with fever. My father was a sailor, he was often away. On his return he would always bring me something special from his trips including a fan from Far East; a rocking horse that I called Lila. I played with it under the bed clothes. I would create and invent stories and images of riding far away in a magical and exotic far away land that my father told me about. My father gave my mother the record ‘South Pacific’ that was the hit in the world. I remember hearing lovely unfamiliar tunes while I shivered with fever in the dark and my parents were dancing to it in the room next door. I was not unhappy, just comforted by my toys.


My memory:
This is my Tressy doll. She is 47 years old. I remember playing with her for hours sitting on my bedroom floor. I had a large cardboard tub with all her clothes and shoes in. I would dress her up in various outfits, but the best was a turquoise evening dress with shoe string straps and layers of white lace at the bottom. Long white gloves and white shoes finished it off.

She came with a flesh coloured key which was placed in the mechanism on her back – turning the key retracted the core of long hair. By pressing the button on her tummy, the core of hair could be pulled out so she had long hair. I would brush it, style it, tie it up and curl it. She was a wonderful playmate. The slogan was….Tressy – her hair grows!


My memory:
Toy - A half sized child’s violin
This violin is a ‘toy’ that belonged to my brother and when I took up violin lessons at school aged seven it was handed to me.

I come from a musical family with my maternal grandfather playing the violin and he even made his own instrument and my mother is also a self-taught pianist. I remember learning to play with this violin and continued to have lessons until about the age of fourteen. During my secondary school education I hated the violin as my lessons always disrupted my art lessons as they fell at the same point in my week’s timetable. I ended up discontinuing violin lessons as a result as I wanted to commit fully to art. However, I still continued to play and learn piano. It seems to have been an ongoing problem in my life to combine my music and arts practice! However, I studied animation and sound design at postgraduate level and now successfully combine image and sound together in experimental ways using film, theatre and performance within my visual practice.


My memory:
It was hard to try and chose one toy, but since plastic seemed to play a huge role in my childhood toys, I decided to focus on the first one I recall receiving. Judging by the type of toy it was, I couldn't have been far from being one year old, yet I still remember the packaging, it's size (it seemed massive), and the impact it had on me when I received it with its rainbow colours and the red ball on top, eye candy.

I remember chewing the light orange one and having both sides of the hollow plastic connect in my mouth but not being able to do it with the yellow one as it was too hard to bend, having the loops spread on the floor and struggling to understand which size went on first on the pole. Challenging! With time, I learned to organize the loops by colour and used them mainly as bracelets. I was mesmerised by light coming through certain loops such as again the orange one and started using them in other ways...they became accessories for dolls, tools for play and were a favourite in the bath tub. I used them for experiments. Once, probably age 4, I was curious of what would happen if I put my hand on the stove top and used one to test. I touched the ring with the side of (the orange) loop and was shocked to discover that the ring had melted the plastic and left me with a grimacing gap (the melted plastic looked like sharp teeth). This was shocking, and kept me away from hot stoves. I eventually grew out of playing with this toy but I find it interesting, sitting here glancing around the room, that many of my paintings today are brightly coloured and have painted loops.


My memory:
My grandfather was an adventurer, a large , gentle man with a free spirit, who as a young man travelled extensively, mostly through Canada. As a child I remember his stories of how he had come across magnificent animals living in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains and the great forests throughout the world. My strongest memory is of my grandfather and I reading the book ‘White Fang’ together many times. It is the story of a wolf-dog, a ferocious creature who through his great battle to survive learned to adapt. My book and toy wolf were gifts from my grandfather, sadly the original book disappeared when moving home. Fortunately in 1991 an unabridged version was republished and I was able to replace it.

The continuing concept that underpins my work today is that of evolutionary processes, principally the primal instinct for survival achieved via diversity, mutation and the adaptive development of offence and defence mechanisms.


The idea for this project is universal, it crosses ages and cultures and for that reason it is recognizable by people from different cultural backgrounds and locations.

Children’s toys make many adults think of times and experiences from their childhood where battles between good and evil were fought.

As we grow up from a child into an adult with the guidance of our parents, toys are the things that influence the development of our character and personality. It is through toys that we learn about give-take, sharing, forming relationships, valuing and caring.

As adults we seldom remember toys of our childhood, some given, some bought, and some made with love by our grandparents and parents, however the experience of our significant toy impacts on our life later and can be seen in our art and our memories.

In this global project my aim is to let artists from different countries and cultures share their memories of their toys, their childhood and the way these are reflected in their art. My aim is to bring together many people around the globe and to explore similarities and differences related to a childhood toy as a thing of importance in a human life.

The Object of Things –Toys’, is a response to the artist’s Susan Meyerhoff Sharples’ investigation into the relevance of toys in our lives and how they act as triggers to precious memories.

These works have evolved into a collaborative project with groups of artists internationally. The intention is that it will act as a catalyst, aiming to encourage and inspire a response by our global partners. The expectation is that it will travel and grow to encompass artists from many different cultures and countries, building momentum with each new connection and exhibition.

The project was first exhibited in February 2011 at Metal, Liverpool, UK, followed by the Contemporary Urban Centres ‘Threshold Festival’, in Liverpool, UK and Studio Valeria, Croatia. Our next exhibition is planned for October 2011 in Podgorica, Montenegro.

We would like to invite participants throughout the world to join us on this global journey by adopting the project and responding to the theme of Toys that evoke childhood memories, by organising an exhibition in your country under our guidance and curatorship and thus becoming part of this International Tour and our Global Arts Collaboration. You do not need to be a renowned artist to take part but must be age 16 years or above.

Elect one person from your group to organize the exhibition in your community and to communicate with us via the internet.

Each participant will:
1. Select a toy or object they played with which was of a particular significance to them personally. The toy need not be bought in a shop; it could be made by hand or even a stick on a string. You may no longer have your toy; you may wish to make a copy or find another similar example. Take a digital photo (high quality) on a plain background of your toy.

2. Write a paragraph of no more than 250 words describing your specific memory associated with the object from your childhood. This is an important and valued part of the project and should be in your own style and language; you should not be concerned with the style. Also include a translation into English.

3. Once you have the memory and the image of the toy we would like you to make a piece of artwork, this could be a drawing, a painting, an installation or some other piece of art that you feel has been inspired by your toy or your memory. Take a digital photo of your artwork with a plain black or white background so that the image is clearly visible.

When your group of participants have given you their memory, plus one image of the toy and one of the artwork please check that all are clearly named and email these to: and

The number of artists you wish to participate is open to you; however we will be selecting up to seven that will appear in our virtual catalogue ( and will be contributing to the global project. Contributors may not be the most renowned artists, or ones with the best presentation. In this project we aim to show a range of works from our global community.

Once we have received your information and made a selection for the catalogue and before your exhibition we will send you by mail digital images of the toys with memory text for your ‘Memory Wall’. These will be size 21 x 30cms each digital and will include work from other partner countries. Your ‘Memory Wall’ should contain previously exhibited images from other participating countries and seven selected images from your exhibition.

1. All your artists’ original artwork for this project
2. The Memory Wall displaying digital images of artists memories produced and selected by us
3. Your toys as an installation or display of your choice

Please remember, only the concept began here, we are the link that connects you with other artists internationally. As a partner in this global art project we would like you to organize your local exhibition to include as many contributing artists as possible so that this event creates an opportunity for people to meet and share their experiences according to your local and cultural tradition. Whenever possible we like to attend the opening of the exhibition. This gives us the opportunity to meet local artists and people; however this may not always be possible because of practicalities and expense. We hope that artists from different countries will develop communication and future working relationships.

If you decide to take part in this project please email: and we will then send you further information on how to proceed.

Please note:
Care has been taken to keep the cost of this project as low as possible as it has been supported to date by a small group of local artists from UK. Susan Meyerhoff Sharples holds the copyright to the digital collection, the catalogue and any future publications, installations, film or audio representation but not the original artists work.


When does a thing become a meta-thing and material become immaterial?
When it transcends its material value and is embedded with meta-narratives, shifting the emphasis from physical to metaphysical.

The idea first came about whilst artist Susan Meyerhoff Sharples was working on her Cultural Crossings Series, work which explores ethnology and the evolution of multiculturalism from its most primitive origins to modern manifestations. This embodies the concept that we no longer live in relative isolation, continuing our own traditions, but in an interconnected contemporary world that reflects a world-wide cultural diffusion. We share the same human family, regardless of race or gender and are interdependent; therefore our actions affect the well-being of others.

The concept of toys as icons began in Postlinberg, Austria 2010, in a tiny ancient Lady Chapel, a place of pilgrimage where religious ceremony, ritual and paraphernalia sit side by side with a children’s grotto and famous fairytales by The Brothers Grimm.

Super heroes, princesses and teddy bears transport many adults back to utopian places in their childhood, where gigantic battles were fought and won, monstrous mutants’ slayed and princesses dressed in opulent gowns.

This installation, first exhibited at the Contemporary Urban Centre, Liverpool, UK in February 2011, is a response to the artist Susan Meyerhoff Sharples’ investigation into the relevance of toys in our lives and how they act as triggers to precious memories.

On analysis, the influences of these toys and reflected memories, although sometimes subtle, have seeped into the everyday lives of many participants, particularly artists. Their artwork reveals a link from their childhood memory to their working practice today.

During the developing stages of childhood we absorb many aspects of life through the experiences, teaching and influences of the objects and adults that surround us. Seldom do we take the time to consider the impact this has had on our adult lives.

These works have evolved into a collaborative exchange with groups of artists internationally. The intention is that they will act as a catalyst, aiming to encourage and inspire a response by our global partners.

The exhibition reveals a moment in artists’ lives were they have allowed themselves the time to reflect and consider this hypothesis.