The Stonehenge Sculptures of Ratko Vulanovic: They Call it Stone Town!

The Ada Stonehenge, aka Gates of Belgrade, photo by paramecijum

The Ada Stonehenge, aka Gates of Belgrade, photo by paramecijum, used with permission

Welcome back, Gentle Readers! Today our continuing tour of Stonehenge-ish things around the world takes us to the historic and beautiful city of Belgrade. The scene above was taken in a park that is on an island in the Sava River as it flows through the city, the island Ada Ciganlija. The official name of the collective sculptures seen here is the Gates of Belgrade, but they’re sometimes called Stone Town or the Ada Stonehenge. Which is where we come in.

From the Real Housewife of Belgrade, with permission

From the Real Housewife of Belgrade, with permission

These sculptures were created by sculptor Ratko Vulanovic. As you can see in this video, he is one of those people you can’t help but love, even if he doesn’t say one word you understand. There is also a wonderful-seeming article here, about him and the Stone Town sculptures he has created, but we have not been able to get a good translation of it. It seems to say that he loved stone from a young age, admiring cyclopean walls and world-famous Stonehenge, that he has a mythic personality, athletic muscles, superhuman strength, a white beard and golden hands. It says he began to process boulders as the ancients did, eventually forming a whole city of stone, but that it looked supernatural and since people are not allowed to compete with the gods, those gods of the lower world took apart his achievement.

This is true. In Niksic, Montenegro, he laboured over a grouping of these sculptures in 1993 near the Palace of King Nicola, as the article puts it, drawing “from the stone wonderful synergy of beauty, rapture and awe” with “hints of stone Empire Luxor, Baalbek, Pompeii, their phantasmagorical streets, squares, colonnades, capitals and portals.” But in 2008, Niksic officials had the sculpture group, called Kameni Grad, or Stone Town, destroyed. Only photographs of that masterpiece remain.

Stone Town, Niksic.

Stone Town, Niksic.

It is not clear to us whether the Gates of Belgrade include any of the stone used in the former sculpture, but many people see it as the new Stone Town. It seems hard to believe, but more than one source suggests that Vulanovic received little or no money for the work. They call it his gift to Belgrade. Meanwhile, vandals have been at work destroying the new sculptures, knocking the stones down some time in 2011. The article that mentions that says that it was hoped that one of the cranes being used to build the beautiful new bridge across the Sava might help Mr. Vulanovic to set the stones back up. We hope it was done!

It says he comes out very early in the morning and washes in the cold fountain, then works all day carving stone and wood. We think it says that when the journalist exclaims that it is -10 degrees C, Vulanovic says, there is no creativity without passion!

Usually we’re funny on this blog, or we try to be, but once in a while we’re awed. This is one of those times. This isn’t a true Stonehenge replica, but we’re glad it was brought to our attention. The research for it took us on a journey of discovery, not all of which we had room for here, discovery of a great artist and of a culture that writes and thinks in grand terms about its great artists. Today we’re grateful to have gotten a glimpse of that man and that world. We won’t award this man any druids. We think he may be one.

Ratko Vulanovic

Ratko Vulanovic

P.S.: We’re also tracking down stories of a sculptor known for Stonehenge-like sculptures, including one in Zurich. We’ll get to that post somewhere down the line. We have sillier things to share before that. And until next time, dear friends, happy henging!

Happy Valentine’s Day! In Which We Venture into the Realm of Teh Cute!

Sculpture by Lesley-Anne Raven at Cobweb Corner

Sculpture by Lesley-Anne Raven at Cobweb Corner

Greetings to our readers. [heart] [heart] [heart!] We don’t have either of our new large permanent replica posts ready yet, but we wanted to put something up here for Valentine’s Day and look what we found!! THIS!!!! And you may well ask, “What is it?”

On the Stone Henge [sic] page of Cobweb Corner, Ms. Raven includes this among many interesting items she calls  “Stone Henge* inspired incense burners and candleholders”. Here’s another. StoneHengeSmall

What’s that you say? Aren’t these a little on the precious side for Clonehenge? Too cute? Are you wondering if we know the craft person and are getting kickbacks on every item sold? And we say, “No, but thanks—what a great idea! We’ll work on that.” On the other hand, if we ever started making money from Clonehenge, we might have to start actually working at it, and no one would want that, least of all us!

We’re posting this because: A. Our policy is to illustrate all of the ways in which people are reproducing Stonehenge; and B. We were completely at a loss as to how to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Clonehenge until this came along. This chocolate henge looks yummy, but we didn’t ask permissions in time.

We’re not awarding druids for this. We give it five strawberry creams and a ! And we accompany it with our words from last Valentine’s Day:

Happy Valentine’s Day to all, with or without a real lover. We all know you singles have your dreams and fantasies. You may be doing as well or better than many who face the challenge of the real thing (our own partner, for example, has us to put up with…).

You know what your Valentine wants: a Stonehenge replica, of course! Make it from biscuits or chocolate candies. Hide that ring and its glittering rock among the stones. There are few things more romantic and at the same time subliminally sexual than that shaft of light streaming in between a pair of uprights! If you make one, send us pictures. Of the henge only, please. There are plenty of sites for those other photos!

Meanwhile, as spring approaches, we have great line up of henges ahead for you. An interview with the amazing Mark Cline (of Foamhenge fame, and who is currently constructing the new Alabama addition to our list of large permanent replicas)  is in the works, and one of our trusty henge-o-racks may be heading over to meet him at the new fibreglass replica to get pictures of him and the henge while it’s being painted!

We have a public sculpture in Zurich to look at, a lovely small quartzite model from Brazil, and another small model that is a pun on the glacier theory of the bluestones (Yes. We get all kinds.), the Serbian sculpture mentioned before, probably some snowhenges, and many other odd and fun things to come! Enjoy your sweetheart tomorrow, or conversely, enjoy being bitter about not having one. Remember, Stonehenge needs love, and until next time, friends, happy henging!

*Stone Henge is one of many common misspellings of Stonehenge, including Stonehedge, Stongehenge, Stoneghenge Stonhenge and others. Each has its adherents, but to find everything about Stonehenge on the internet, one has to search them all.

Video Update on Achill Henge: It Still Stands!

Recent video report on Achill Henge

Just a brief note. The link above leads to a great bit of video about Achill Henge, on the island of Achill, in County Mayo in Ireland. For those who don’t know, this was built surreptitiously by Joe McNamara, possibly to represent the tomb of the Celtic Tiger, the days of Ireland’s great prosperity. Mr. McNamara is the only person we know of to be arrested for henging, and he has since been ordered to take the henge down, so far, apparently, not complying. We have done a number of posts on Achill Henge and the controversy surrounding it. Here is the first: Achill Henge.

Not only does the video contain an interesting discussion of the monument itself, but the video of Achill and the sea around it is stunningly beautiful! If we could manage it, we would organise a Clonehenge tour to Achill!

We hope to have another post up by Valentine’s Day. Wish us luck! And until next time, friends, happy henging!