Growing up in White Mountains, New Hampshire, USA, Nina Toutant was surrounded with the classic New Hampshire culture of hardworking, down-to-earth people who are friendly to guests and newcomers. Little did she know that one day she would become friends with a ‘girl’ who grew up in Croatia, where people are equally strong, spirited and warm. Despite the geographic and language differences, both girls’ parents taught them the same human values, including how to help sustain their own culture, while appreciating the others’ from close and afar. For Nina Toutant, that has been evident in her passion for creating art in the form of the American tradition of quilting. For Mirena Bagur, born in Metkovic, Neretva – Valley of Life, Croatia, that zeal is today translated into creating awareness about the Croatian culture abroad.
Last winter, Nina and Mirena discussed the many similarities between the two cultures, and a decision was soon made – Nina will visit the Dubrovnik Neretva County. It turns out, other friends joined the trip to explore the country through the eyes of a local person that can show them the not-so-well-known parts of Croatia.
Metkovic being Mirena’s home town, she planned for the Narona Museum of Archeology as one of the very first places to visit. http://www.a-m-narona.hr/en/about-the-museum/ The group had a great time exploring the architecture of the in situ museum and getting familiar with the collections. The main hall includes the Augusteum temple featuring the statues of the emperors and family members.
Overlooking the temple from the above floor with the collections of decorative and functional artifacts, Nina noticed the black and white mosaic floor, remarkable in its simplicity. And, an idea was born!
Fast-forward several months – the Toutants call to say they’d like to stop by to bring something. Imagine the surprise of seeing the Augusteum’s mosaic made into an American quilt! Nina has been quilting for many years, and participating in many quilting gatherings in America. However, it is unlikely she witnessed such an excited reaction to a quilt as she did from Mirena, who immediately knew where the pattern came from. Mirena dubbed the art piece “From Narona to New Hampshire with Love” clearly appreciating Nina’s thoughtfulness, but also the creativity and the phenomenal art work.
Mirena Bagur, Winfried Burke with friend Nina Toutant – the artist who created a quilt inspired by the Narona’s mosaic in the Augusteum.