Vela Luka/island of Korčula
Vela Luka is a place of tradition and home to many talented musicians and artists. The people are and hardworking and versatile. The Cultural Centre is located in the town centre, next to the Parish Church of St. Joseph, and consists of a museum, gallery and library. The wealth and diversity of Vela Luka’s history, art and cultural heritage is shown through several valuable museum collections: an archaeological collection; a donated international collection of drawings, designs and small sculptures; and a collection of ship models carved in wood.
The international collection was the result of many donations from local and foreign artists after Vela Luka was hit by a tidal wave in the summer of 1978.
Two sculptures by Henry Moore dominate the collection. These are the only two works of this well-known artist in Croatia.
The wooden model ships, forty-one of them, were made by the late Nedjeljko Gigić Kotarc, a self-taught carver from Vela Luka, who carved them in olive wood for decades and left them as a legacy to the town and future generations.
In the atrium of the Cultural Centre, and on several locations in the town centre, you can see different parts of a mosaic of abstract and figural compositions made in 1968 when the first international gathering of artists took place in Vela Luka.
Today, Vela Luka is home to many artists, painters, sculptors, songs and poets. About thirty amateur artists live and work here. The “most beautiful bay in the whole world”, as they call Vela Luka, is where many famous artists were born, e.g. the sculptor, painter and poet Izvor Oreb; the poet Danijel Dragojević; the late academician Šime Vučetić, the sculptor Ante Marinović, the conceptual artist Gorki Žuvela, and the well-known singers Oliver Dragojević and Jasna Zlokić.
Local Dalmatian song still lives and maybe represents the spirit of the people of Vela Luka better than anything else when performed by local choirs such as Vela Luka, Ošjak, Leut and others, but it is even nicer when a few of the oldest inhabitants of Vela Luka meet spontaneously on a street corner or in a park and one of them starts a song from the depth of his soul “just like in the old days”, and the others sing along bringing pleasure to everyone.
The Kumpanija folk group has been preserving the various traditional dances of Vela Luka for decades, such as: Mafrina, Četiri pasa, Tanac, Pritilica, Šega-šega and the especially attractive sword dance Ples od boja, also known as Kumpanija.
The Kumpanija is an ancient knight’s game, which has its roots in the popular army which defended the island from various invaders for centuries.
Kumpanija is quite extraordinary and is performed only on the island of Korčula during religious and state holidays. The main performance takes place every year on 19 March on St. Joseph’s Day, the patron saint of Vela Luka.