Sofia trolley car turned gallery showcases folklore motifs

H.E. Giuseppina Zarra (L) and Petya Ilieva at the exhibition opening, Sofia, 20 April.

How much do various folklore traditions around the world have in common? Artist Petya Ilieva presents traditional Italian and Bulgarian folklore motifs in a mobile exhibition organised in association with the Embassy of Italy in Sofia and the diplomatic missions of 20 other countries. The show will be touring the Bulgarian capital for the rest of the year.

“Culture is the most reliable instrument of diplomacy” is the motto of the Art4Diplomacy initiative, which showcases different cultures through artefacts as a way to demonstrate that we all are more alike than we are different.

This year, Art4Diplomacy is decorating a trolley car with reproductions of drawings that incorporate motifs and embroidery patterns from 21 cultures spanning five continents. Why a trolley car? It is a way to pay homage to the city of Sofia, which this year celebrates the 80th anniversary from getting its first trolley car. As an added bonus, being arranged on a trolley car makes the exhibition a mobile show that can be seen every day throughout the city.

The drawings include Italian folklore motifs similar to those found in Bulgarian national folklore. In this way, the author highlights how similar in their diversity the two traditions are. Italy is represented by designs and embroidery patterns from several traditional dresses typical for the island of Sardinia. Those are displayed side by side with motifs from traditional Bulgarian costumes.

The trolley car exhibition was opened last week outside of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. H.E. Giuseppina Zarra, Ambassador of Italy to Sofia, and her fellow ambassadors from the other 20 countries participating in the project attended the event.

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