The arts association ‘Naš most’ in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, through art and culture, promotes the social inclusion of elderly and other vulnerable groups, and is one of the few places in the city where they meet, socialise and have fun. The art group was founded six years ago by a group of retired individuals, consisting mostly of self-taught painters who have only recently begun to make art.
The association started organising social gatherings, art workshops and art collections by turning the small venue of ‘Naš most’ into an art gallery and a centre for healthy aging. Through painting workshops and creative craft lessons, they engage elderly persons, who have never been exposed to art, develop new interests and meet new friends in an effort to nurture their mental wellbeing.
Due to the COVID -19 pandemic, the Art Centre was has been closed since March 20 and has resulted in Zenica’s senior citizens being overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety and depression.
To help them motivate each-other and care for their mental wellbeing, the ‘Nas most’ association launched a drawing and sewing competition on their Facebook page inviting all their members and others to join. The challenge required participants to take a photo of their work, upload it and share the “challenge” with other persons.
“We are all retirees and belong to the most affected group by the pandemic. So, we wanted to use social media in expressing our creativity and imagination and less in consuming depressing news,” said Zdena Šarić, president of ‘Naš most’ association. Zdena, 69 years old, has created 8 paintings in first three weeks. Diagnosed with cancer and suffering from asthma, Zdena is well aware her life is at risk, and painting allows her to relax, forget the reality and deal with her fears in a creative way.
Most of the Bosnian elderly persons live in difficult conditions and are socially excluded, spending most of their time at home, isolated and alone.
“I was looking forward for spring to come, which is why my first painting in isolation was a vase full of lilacs,” says 65-year-old Meliha Bičo Družić, a member of ‘Naš most’. Besides painting, she also started sewing protective masks for her friends.