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The Story Behind Zagreb’s Healing Heart

Zagreb’s healing heart (Voona for Okolo // Around festival, photo Borut Planinc)

The earthquake that hit the Croatian capital last Sunday, the biggest in 140 years, amidst the coronavirus pandemic crisis has left Zagreb citizens shocked, scared and frightened.

While volunteers, authorities, civil protection, military and ordinary citizens organised to help their fellow residents in need, messages of support from Croatia and all over the world flooded social media, but one in particular stood out and quickly became the symbol of hope and healing for Zagreb residents – a patched wool heart covering a cracked facade of an old Zagreb building.

Voona for Okolo // Around festival, photo Borut Planinc

People shared it, Croatian media covered it and international media, such as UK’s Independent quickly picked it up.

The healing heart originally was conceived last August as a street art intervention by Zagreb based artist & designer Ivona (Voona Design) as a part of a street art project Okolo // Around.

The heart-shaped wool piece placed on top of a wall crack was exhibited in Habdeliceva 1 on Zagreb’s Upper Town during the project and remains there until this day.

The original idea behind the art had nothing to do with the catastrophe, the artist revealed – it was to show imperfections as something unique and not ugly but authentic and alive.

But after Sunday, March 22 a new layer of meaning has been added to her art piece – people saw it as a message of hope for their wounded town and Ivona commented on her Instagram:

Sadly, many Zagreb residents have lost their homes  – the first informal estimates say around 7000 objects were struck and the reparations will last 2 to 7 years.

Zagreb bounced back after the devastating 1880 earthquake and will bounce back again thanks to the spirt and unity of the people.

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