Heritage sharing, at the core of European Heritage Days programme and European Heritage Days Stories, is designed as a unique inclusive experience for all European citizens and groups. Aiming to promote common values and provide everyone with an opportunity to share their views and personal heritage narratives, European Heritage Days Stories have enabled hundreds of storytellers with an opportunity to share their local heritage tales with entire Europe. In addition to this, ten stories are selected each year to receive a grant to develop their projects and further support the local communities.
One of the 2019 grantees that comes from North Macedonia, specifically promotes inclusion and diversity as one of the important features in heritage sharing. Many People – Many Views aims to encourage psychiatric patients, previously socially marginalised group, to actively engage in the rich local heritage narrative. The team behind the project decided to give voice to the socially marginalised groups who have been unfairly excluded from the conversation for many years.
How the idea was born
The idea for the story developed during a 2018 lecture on Art Brut at the Demir Hisar Cultural Centre. The event was dedicated to the art made by psychiatric patients as the outsider group represented by the Art Brut form. Inspired by the Art Brut collection displayed, patients from the local psychiatric hospital took part in the three-day photography workshop following the lecture. A unique art therapy introduced ten patients of the hospital to the work of the first photographers of the Southwest Balkans - the Manaki Brothers.
Realising the need to provide better access to local and European heritage to underrepresented groups, the storytellers decided to join the 2019 European Heritage Stories initiative and share this important heritage story.
About the project
The Many People – Many Views project involved five patients from the Demir Hisar Psychiatric Hospital, an art historian and photographer. The activities took place at the hospital and in the historical city of Ohrid. At the hospital, the patients took part in a seven-day photography workshop to develop the necessary skills. In the second phase of the project, during the three day stay in Ohrid they visited many historical and natural sites and learned more about the rich tangible, intangible and natural heritage and how it has been influenced by different cultures throughout history. After the exploration, patients created photography stories that illustrate their take on the local heritage and how it translates to the European landscape.
Following the contact with Ohrid's cultural heritage, the participants took a five-day art workshop where they created works of art inspired by the Ohrid trip. The last final part of the story is the public presentation of the created works. For this purpose a three national exhibitions are organised in Gallery “Robevi House” – Ohrid (19th-28th Jan.), Museum of the Republic of North Macedonia – Skopje (5th-14th Feb.) and House of Culture-Demir Hisar (18th-28th Feb.) In addition to the exhibition, the works of art has been featured in a print catalogue and specially designed postcards.
The inspiring project shows the true potential of heritage in bringing communities together around the ideas of inclusiveness, togetherness and creativity. Furthermore, the Many People – Many Views project encourages heritage sharing and demonstrates interconnectedness of common European ideas, values and heritage.
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