My name is Nataša Bojanić and I am an Erasmus student at AFAD, Bratislava; during the summer semester. I come from Belgrade, Serbia. My home school is Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade. I have finished my bachelor studies at the Department of Ceramics and I am studying for a Masters degree. My main studio at AFAD was also Ceramics under the tutelage of Doc. Daniel Piršč.
I arrived in Bratislava on February 22nd. And I like the city, especially the Old Town. I love those kinds of places. The city I come from is a lot bigger and contains a lot more people and traffic, and I missed it in some moments but I think I managed to get some rest in Bratislava. I remember, the first night after I arrived how enjoyable the silence and the occasional bird sounds were. This peaceful and silent city helped a lot in developing my poetry and artistic concepts.
At AFAD I also signed up for Professor Jan’s SOS studio and for a course in photography led by professor Olja. When it came to ceramics department, I used to stay in the studio for a whole day. I love to work and I love ceramics. I have to be honest, I was not pleased with the relationship I had with my professor and with my colleagues for the academy. I remember waking up at 6 AM every day and having to fight with myself and not give up. Sometimes I just didn’t want to go but I tried as much as I could to go early every day and stay until the late evening hours. I am not someone who gives up easily. At the faculty of my home country, ceramics is a strong department, we work a lot, we have a great number of assignments each semester, and we always start from strong concepts and ideas, with an accent on creativity, development, and experimenting. My orientation within the field of ceramics is unique ceramics, though I am also in the field of vessel ceramics and design. The situation is a little different at AFAD. The field of ceramics is oriented on design and production of functional objects, so I needed more time and had trouble communicating with educators. I had troubles in baking my works, and I remember a time when I just came to the faculty, and found out I don’t have any provided material, and that I have to go to another country to buy it. I went to purchase what I needed in Kranj in Slovenia, and I wanted to try my master project with new clay and material. However, my works ended up cracked during the baking, and lot of my materials were wasted. I don’t think I was without mistakes, but still, I mostly think it ended like that as I simply could not influence the baking programs at the ceramics department properly, and because my communication with the technician assigned to work with students was tense. In many moments it was very hard for me, as I tried to be mindful, to adjust, and to accept new solutions and come to a better understanding. My works cracked and I was very distressed about it at that time. However, I did not give up, and I made a new series of works and pleaded for the new process of baking to be slower this time. I think that only at that time, we managed to communicate better, and my second series of works were successfully realised. Besides those series, at the same time I also worked in the field of design, I used porcelain mass I bought from the faculty, I gave my best to learn more, I was examining my works seeking for mistakes I could work on, and I thought about how nice it is that we are all doing things so differently, as we can learn from each other. It is an experience that means a lot to me. And clay is a material that needs a lot of research, and it’s always a delight to explore it and expect new surprises coming out of the baking oven.
My big problem indeed was English language, but the similarity between Slovak and Serbian did help me to communicate better about things connected with ceramics, and in communication with professors who also did not know English so well. I am also especially thankful for my classmate, Štefan, who tried very hard to help me communicate, he helped me a lot in getting by, and we had a friendly bond. Thanks to him I learned lot of Slovak language, which made my communication with the whole class a lot easier. I am also thankful to the assistant Simona, who also tried to guide and inform me from the very start. I first met her when we just arrived at AFAD, at the first day. She tried really hard in presenting the field of ceramics to me, and for that, I really admire her for that. One of experiences at the faculty that left deep impression on me and that I would like to mention as well, was when we had a workshop with an artist Elzbieta Grosseová that travelled from Czech Republic as a travelling professor, that is very famous and renowned in the world. I really adored her art and the way she was presenting it, and I am highly satisfied with works I made during her workshop. I would like to commend Studio SOS, Professor Jan and assistant Mira, in whose classes I learned a lot and who really tried their best in communicating with me, in contrast to the situation I had in my main studio. I also spent time in the workshop for metal and wood, and worked with the wonderful masters who taught me a lot. I used to stay up late into the night and work. I had no experience with those materials before, and it was really refreshing change of pace. I felt strong, cutting metal, welding and honing it, and going to landfill to buy materials and search for the ideal part for my installation, made it an excellent experience for me.
In Serbia I like spending my time by visiting abandoned places, houses, factories and buildings. On my photography course I chose to photograph such places and graveyards. I went around Bratislava and visited a lot of beautiful graveyards, a lot of sculptures, old monuments and I managed to feel the spirit of the past. I also visited the place called Koliba which is beautiful with big forests with a lot of animals. I walked for 6 hours and managed to arrive at a completely different part of Bratislava.
To sum it all up, I loved my stay in Bratislava. I also managed to visit other countries and cities. Prague was wonderful. And I found the small cities in Slovakia amazing. My Erasmus friends are amazing and all of us had a great time together and we developed a strong friendly bond. We watched over each other and shared our experiences. I managed to develop my English while communicating with them. For me this was a monumental experience. I love what happened. And I am Grateful to our hosts and the people who cared for us. Coordinators, professors and colleagues.