The first Bosna Quilts were made in the Galina refugee hostel in Vorarlberg, Austria in 1993. At the time, local artists tried various ways of giving employment to the women who had fled from Bosnia. The Bosna Quilt Werkstatt was initiated by Lucia Lienhard-Giesinger, with about 30 women contributing at the start. Exhibitions soon followed, and working on the Quilts became an important purpose in life for many of the participating women. The refugees, among them Safira Hošo and Vesna Malokas, were able to return after the end of the war. They went back to their home town of Goražde, which had been under siege for three years. It was unthinkable for Safira that the workshop should be closed on her return. She put together a new group of women who had lived through the war at home and taught them how to make quilts. From then on, the colour schemes for Bosna Quilts have been composed in Vorarlberg, and the quilting has been done on the banks of the Drina river. The finished quilts find a home in many private households but also in public spaces all over the world. The eleven women in the project can thus rely on a regular income and a certain degree of economic security for their families: the women get paid immediately upon completing a quilt, regardless of when it is sold.
On the Drina river
Goražde, a town of about 20,000 inhabitants, is located on the Drina river in the south-east of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the Bosnian war from 1992 to 1995, the town was beleaguered by Serbian troops almost from the start. Today, it is a Bosnian enclave surrounded by the Republic of Serbia and connected to the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by what is only a narrow corridor. Although the armed conflict ended more than twenty years ago, it is still very much felt by the inhabitants. Life in Goražde is characterised by a certain sense of isolation and high unemployment.
The Bosna Quilt Werkstatt would not exist without the wonderful work of all the people involved. Lucia Lienhard-Giesinger has managed the project from the start and designs the patchwork or colour-field painting. Safira Hošo pulls all the threads together in Goražde. She and Munira Karo, Mirza Mašić, Sabina Dolo, Hedija Kazagić, Sada Srna, Ševala Hadžimesić, Mirza Kozo, Ćamila Sudić, Emina Hošo and Vesna Malokas do the quilting. Some of the women have found day-time employment in the fields or vegetable patches, others have a factory job. For some, quilting is the only work that brings in an income. But for all of them, quilting is an important part of their lives. Safira says: “It is my love and my life”.
The picture booklets
If you want to find out more about our history and at the same time enjoy more quilts, photos and texts at your own pace, we recommend our picture booklets: four lovingly compiled booklets as a boxed set, published to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Bosna Quilt Werkstatt. Available in real bookshops and online. ISBN 9783990182390.