A feast of Slovak food
On Saturday 4th June members of our group headed over to the Slovak embassy for the annual summer garden party hosted by the British Czech and Slovak association. We went to film some shots of authentic Slovak culture for our film project and to carry out some interviews which we could use in our short documentary film.
We arrived just before 3pm to get some shots of the outside of the building, which is notable for its Brutalist style of architecture- a geometric and modern style popular in the 1960s and 70s. The building consists of reinforced concrete in a cube shape with long glass windows and wood panelling. Construction work began in 1965 around the same time as work began on the Barbican Estate, which is one of London’s most famous Brutalist landmarks.
As we entered the building we were greeted warmly by Barbora who showed us round the building including the long windows which run along the second floor. The glass runs along the whole external wall creating a light and modern space. Barbora tells us that guests sometimes accidentally walk into the glass at events not noticing it’s there! Other notable features included a large glass Chandelier hanging over the impressive event space, reminiscent of the glass Rotunda Chandelier designed and made by Dale Chihuly in the V&A.
After the tour, we joined the hustle and bustle of the main event area where guests were milling about, enjoying traditional Slovak food, browsing stalls with books and cakes and buying raffle tickets. Iman entered the raffle and won a small teddy bear. We also entered the competition to guess how many buttons there were in the jar. My estimate was, however, way off.
We took some great photos of this part of the event and then met our language teacher, Olga, who introduced us to our first interviewee of the day- Nadia. We interviewed her in a very official room in the embassy about her time in London as an architect and her experiences of cultural difference between London and Slovakia. After this, we went to investigate the barbecue and music outside, where traditional Slovak folk music was being played on the cello and the accordion.
Next we interviewed Barbara Sitar, whose mother’s artwork was being exhibited in the embassy. She told us how she had been brought up in what was previously Czechoslovakia, a fascinating tale of hiding in the countryside communicating over the phone in code to avoid interception by the authorities. She offered her thoughts on immigration and the sometimes illusory links between nationality and identity.
Overall, the afternoon was a fascinating and eye-opening glimpse into the Slovak community and gave us a valuable insight into what it means to have a dual cultural identity in London in 2016.
By: Rebecca Huseyin