Photos of twin city

JON WELCH Stunning pictures capturing life in and around one of Norwich’s twin cities will go on display in a new exhibition.


They're striking, arresting images, brimming with colour and vitality. An exhibition of photographs from one of Norwich's twin cities and surrounding region goes on display today, June 23.

The pictures capture the life, beauty and customs of the Serbian city of Novi Sad and the region of Vojvodina.

They're all by Dragoljub Zamuroviæ, a Serbian photographer with a distinguished and wide-ranging body of work that has appeared in top international publications, including Time, Newsweek and The New York Times Magazine.

The exhibition is being staged by the Norfolk and Norwich Novi Sad Association, which promotes links between Norwich and its Serbian twin.

Committee member Diana Beckley, one of the exhibition's organisers, said she first came across Dragoljub's work in a Serbian tourist magazine.

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Her eye was drawn to this picture of traditional Serbian musicians (above centre).

“I thought, 'That photograph is just stunning',” she said. “It tells you everything about those musicians and the atmosphere.”

The association contacted Dragoljub and began making plans for an exhibition of his work. Some 57 pictures will be on display at The Forum for a week.

“Some of his pictures are landscape but not, on the whole, standard landscape: it's dramatic landscape,” said Diana. “For instance, there's a lot of strip farming there and one of the pictures features fields with a ripe corn-coloured path zig-zagging through them. It's as much of an abstract image as a landscape.

“There are lots of pictures of people doing things, particularly taking part in festivals and gatherings.”

The association hopes the pictures will help stimulate interest in Novi Sad, which has had links with Norwich for over 40 years.

“I think they are absolutely stunning pictures: dramatic, exciting, interesting, marvellous colours,” said Diana.

“They show some of the subtle variety of Vojvodina. It's not a dramatic landscape but I like the subtlety of it.”

Vojvodina itself is roughly the size of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex combined and has similar geography.

“It was once an inland sea so it's very flat. In parts of it, you could take a ruler to the horizon,” said Diana. “One or two bits are slightly hillier and there are two so-called mountains that only go up to 500ft or so, which would have been islands at one time.

“It's the bread-basket of former Yugoslavia. They grow wheat, maize, potatoes and sugar beet, as well as peppers and fruit.”

Diana's love of Novi Sad and Vojvodiana dates back to 1986 when she was a physics teacher at Notre Dame High School, Norwich and accompanied a party of students to the city, then part of Yugoslavia.

“There used to be a schools exchange. It ground to a halt because of administrative changes and the small matter of the war,” she said.

“There have been a number of visits since, but not a regular, well-funded official exchange. It's very disappointing. We all feel very strongly.”

Diana and her husband Peter, secretary of the association, continued to visit during the war in Yugoslavia, which raged between 1991 and 1995, delivering aid to the region.

Vojvodina itself was untouched by the fighting, although large numbers of refugees fled into the area.

However, Novi Sad came under attack by NATO forces during the Kosovo Crisis of 1999, when three of the city's bridges were destroyed in air strikes.

Diana said: “There's some resentment towards NATO and the British government. Some people you speak to are quite bitter about it when you start probing, but we have never experienced any antagonism.

“Most people say 'You're not responsible for the actions of your government, any more than we are for the actions of ours'.”

And it's the people that have kept Diana, Peter and the other members of the association going back to Novi Sad.

“They're very nice, very friendly, very hospitable. The warmth of the hospitality and generosity just knocks you out.”

The Beauty of Vojvodina exhibition is at The Forum, Millennium Plain, Norwich, until Friday, June 30. Admission is free, and opening hours are 10am to 6pm. Prints of Dragoljub Zamuroviæ's photographs will also be on sale, priced between £25 and £75.

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