Over the five years spent in Serbia, the Ambassador of Australia Julia Feeney was one of the greatest promoters of our country’s cultural heritage, the preservation of traditional crafting techniques and the economic empowerment of women in rural areas. Testifying to her role in this endeavor, there have been more than 40 events, conferences, workshops, weavers’ colonies and exhibitions she organized together with the association Ethno Network and NALED, and dozens additional events with individual local governments.
Going back to Australia, she will bring along a collection of Pirot and Stapar carpets and other authentic local handicrafts, as well as a medal for her contribution in preserving Serbia’s cultural heritage and promoting tradition in the service of local development and employment, presented today by Ethno Network in Belgrade City Hall, within a gala reception to bid farewell to the Ambassador upon the completion of her diplomatic term in our country.
"For me, cooperation with Ethno Network was a major experience and an award, given that I am personally committed to the empowerment of women, which is also a priority of the Australian Government. We are not doing this because it is the right thing to do from the perspective of human rights, but because this is an economically smart initiative. It was a privilege to meet a lot of determined and smart women in Serbia and assist you in promoting your rich cultural heritage. I am leaving Serbia with plenty of fantastic memories. I will carry along a piece of Serbia with me, but I am also leaving a part of myself" – said Feeney.
Deputy Mayor of Belgrade Goran Vesić said that Feeney has done an immense work for the promotion of our culture, helping us understand the things we have which were not shown to the world.
"If it weren’t for Julia, many of us would not know about some products that have been made in Serbia for centuries. She showed that she cared about this people and our country much more than an ambassador would be expected, and this felt very truthful and coming from her heart. We have recognized her efforts and I will propose that she becomes an honorary citizen of Belgrade" – said Vesić.
The mayors of Sombor and Pirot Dušanka Golubović and Vladan Vasić thanked Ambassador Feeney for her support in concluding an agreement between the two cities on the preservation of Stapar and Pirot carpets. The mayors stressed that the key results of this agreement include the revitalized production of the Stapar carpet, which used to stand still with the technique being almost forgotten, while the women in two cities and the surrounding villages embraced new energy and will to revitalize the old handicrafts.
NALED Executive Director and the President of Ethno Network Violeta Jovanović thanked the Ambassador for her support, saying she will miss her as a person who dared to blend the Aboriginal art and Serbian handicrafts within the first joint exhibition in 2014, as a starting point in revitalizing the values and image of Serbian tradition among citizens and officials, her sincere interest in Serbian culture and the efforts in organizing numerous exhibitions, and as a promoter in networking the Australian and Serbian designers who shared their knowledge with the women from Ethno Network.
"The members of Ethno Network will miss you and forever respect you for the support and care you showed for the welfare of people in Serbia, our culture and women, and we will ensure that you can join us at the opening of the national ethno gallery in Belgrade, as promised by the city administration" – said Jovanović.