I was born in Sarajevo, in former Yugoslavia, where I studied and graduated from the University of Fine Art.
It is now hard to believe, but the outbreak of war in the early 1990s took me and my little family completely by surprise. We were on holiday on a small Greek island and an exhibition of my work had just opened in one of the most prestigious galleries in Sarajevo, but the situation at home quickly became so dreadful that we never went back.
That year, 1992, I lost my country, along with scores of my paintings and the prospect of a career as an artist and an art teacher in my home country. But my husband, daughter and I were alive and together.
The first few years in the UK were extremely tough. I worried about family, particularly my parents, and friends, I spoke very little English, I had nowhere to paint and, soon after our arrival, my husband and I separated and I started to raise my daughter alone. As always, my paintings reflected my inner state and my early London paintings are dense and heavy, almost morose. In sharp contrast, today I paint in vivid colours, the reds and purples and oranges reflecting perfectly who I am now. Looking at the few paintings I have from that earlier period, it seems clear that, when I was painting them, I was looking backwards to a life I had lost, unable to envisage a productive, happy future for myself where I now was. I have gone on to develop as a person and an artist, and have gone through many changes, but there is a continuous thread through all my work: I am a figurative artist and I paint women. In contemplating women through the generations, I strive to reveal and affirm female identity through different phases of life. My approach to painting is always changing, like my life, and I always strive to discover new ways to express myself. Sometimes inspiration comes from the women at my local sports centre, sometimes from pieces of scrap wood I find in a skip on a nearby street, sometimes from my memories. For a time, I was intrigued by glassware and poured my energies into finding and perfecting a technique that allowed me to transfer my work onto glass. And I still create glassware that, although hand-painted, is still suitable for everyday use. I love the idea of art permeating the everyday, of art as a way of life rather than a way to decorate life.
At the moment I am focusing on painting on wooden blocks. I enjoy using materials that have had a previous life - as bits of old houses, remnants of railway tracks, wedges and lumps of driftwood – and this has resulted in freer, more dynamic paintings that can be presented as sculpture. Painting on four-sided blocks enables me to tell a complex story in full, like a tetraptych can, in a single piece.
Despite the turmoil of my early years as an artist, I continue painting and exhibiting in the UK and in galleries and museums across former Yugoslavia: Belgrade, Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, Split and Zagreb, for example.
On this site you can also see work I created to illustrate a book, The Blacksmith and the Bull, an epic poem set in Bosnia, by Nick Lipley. Being a member of Bosnia & Herzegovina Art Society, I am chosen regularly to exhibit my work in our biggest annual show in Sarajevo. And I am honoured to say that recently I was included in Svjetionici: An Anthology and Monograph of Artists of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Diaspora, published by Art Rabic, Sarajevo.