"Sveti Marko Anniversary" 2012, 30x30 cm

The Brief

This painting was commissioned by a husband for his wife, he wanted an original gift as a suprise for their anniversary and as souvenir of the years they lived in the Croatia. With that request I offered him a sketch I had only just completed (serendipity indeed) or he could suggest something different. He went for the sketch (as some things are obviously meant to be): though I did make a few alterations. Most notably in the design of the veil and hat worn by the bears, which I altered from the original sketch to reflect details from the couple's own wedding photo. The church itself, Sveti Marko, locates it in the iconic centre of Zagreb's Gornji Grad (Old Town) and as it is a tradition for local couples to get photographed here on their wedding day it seemed absolutely perfect to the occasion. Another local tradition of the region is for lovers to give each other "Licitar" hearts - sweet, heart shaped biscuits decorated in glossy red and white icing with small mirrors reflecting luck onto the loved one. The bears themselves are a play on the name of the Medvednica mountains behind Zagreb as the word for 'bear' in Croatian is 'medvjed.' I have enjoyed populating my pictures of this landscape with many bears and, in this picture, they celebrate the love at the centre of this gift better than any other detail.

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