A retrospective exhibition of small works of pottery crafted by Adam Dworski opened at the Mimara Museum on the 23rd of May to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the artist and craftsman. The exhibition is co-organised with the Croatian Heritage Foundation as the initiator and presentation co-ordinator and with the British embassy to Croatia.
The museum director Lada Ratković Bukovčan welcomed the many who gathered for the opening, including guests from Rijeka, followed by the potter’s daughter Marijana Dworski (with both brothers in the audience), the author of the English language text of the exhibition catalogue, the deputy head of mission to Croatia at the British embassy Peter Clemens, the CHF’s project co-ordinator Ljerka Galic and CHF deputy director Ivan Tepeš, who had the honour of declaring the exhibition officially open.
In her text the art historian and author of the exhibition catalogue notes that, “Quality is an absolute value and should not be subject to taste. That is why we should not challenge the value of something we do not like. In the case of Adam Dworski this uncertainty is laid to rest. The high level of execution will enchant you all with its grace and beauty. Tonight I thank Adam Dworski, who has joined us together with his powerful emigrant tale in promoting the beauty of creativity and the joie de vivre.”
The presentation of the oeuvre of potter and sculptor Adam (Adaš) Dworski in Zagreb rounds out the artist’s life story, which began in the small town of Fužine in the highlands of central Croatia in 1917. One century after his childhood in Sušak, his university studies in Zagreb, the departure for England, the forty years working out of his studio in Wales and his retirement to France’s Burgundy region in the 1990s, Dworski has made his symbolic Croatian comeback.
Adam was the grandson of the wealthy Gjuro Ružić, who married his daughter off to an officer of the navy of the dual Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, naval captain Emanuel Klemens von Dworski de Prus of Lemberg (Lviv) in Galicia (Poland). Adaš was the second of three brothers in a household in which both Croatian and German were spoken. In 1936 Adaš decided to travel to Zagreb to study architecture, but wound up earning a degree in law. This choice was certainly influenced by the difficult illness and death of his father and the much-altered post-war circumstances. The acquaintance his family had with an English admiral in Sušak in the 1930s brought him in contact with Patricia Nash. After their wedding in 1954 Adam and Paddy decided to move to the United Kingdom. Adaš initially took odd jobs and was a regular contributor to Rijeka’s Novi List newspaper, writing articles about life in England. In 1955 Adaš and Paddy became friends with the owner of the Overstone Studio Pottery workshop. After training he opened the Wye Pottery studio in 1956 in the village of Clyro on the border between England and Wales. Over the following forty years this village was home to them and the three children that were born and raised there. The studio did resounding business from the 1960s to 1980s. With the business burgeoning Adaš’ work was exhibited across the United Kingdom, Europe and America. His second studio was in operation up to 1990 when he and his wife decided to move to France where both of their sons had already taken up residence.
Adaš kept up his ties to the homeland by vacationing there with his wife, their children and, later, their grandchildren—summering at the Villa Dworski in Rijeka’s Pečine district. Paddy and Adaš, spouses and business partners, died in 2011. A tombstone bearing their names was installed in the mausoleum of the Ružić family at the Trsat cemetery in Rijeka. Their tale of love and art continues to spread Adam’s work around the world.
By: Diana Šimurina-Šoufek; Photography: Mimara Museum