Butterfly sculpture being interpreted by Ivana Zrilic

A sculpture that says more about the regeneration of a city than first meets the eye.

Karlovac is a city in a park. And do you know how many parks Karlovac has? You might say a lot – every citizen of Karlovac considers every moat a park, and every green area with a flower garden – but areas officially registered as a park: only one!

Arriving in the city centre, as soon as you cross the Banija Bridge, on the right side in Gundulićeva Street you are greeted by a beautifully landscaped green area, in the middle of which rests The Butterfly. The sculpture by Daniel Butala was set up here in 2006 when a large project of the Rotary Club Karlovac was completed, in which they collected and financed the de-mining of urban areas. Just as the butterfly is an example of the transformation of the infamous ugly into the beautiful – from a caterpillar it turns into a butterfly – so this butterfly shows the change from the evil times of war to a more beautiful life. The self-denying Butala, a meritorious Karlovac academic painter and draftsman who marked the painting of Karlovac and Croatia with his pedagogical, artistic and humanitarian work, in creating The Butterfly, created another work that breathes new life into the Karlovac atmosphere. It was as if it had been created by a boy who grew up with these unique fields, rivers and nature.

The Butterfly stood almost imperceptibly for years. Some knew that Butala was its creator, but few actually took a walk and looked closely at it. If you approach it and touch the wings, you will feel them flutter. Although they are made of heavy, hard material, their lightness and airiness are surprising. Walking around the pedestal on which The Butterfly rests, you will notice that the wings have colour and it changes depending on which side you look from. The sculpture is a work of art in space and can be viewed from all sides. With such observation, the cavities on the wings take on the colours of the sky, green canopies, colourful facades of neighbouring buildings… And each time you repeat the observation, the colours will be different depending on what time of day or time of year it is. When Daniel Butala passed away in 2017, this green area was re-named Daniel Butala Park, and thus became the first official park in Karlovac.

But let’s go back in time just a little bit further, to a time when this park was on the outskirts of the city when the ramparts still stood at their full height, and the trenches were filled with water. At that time, it was here that the dead inhabitants of Gaza (older than Karlovac) lay and where those who, despite the bans, erected prefabricated houses and handy workshops were buried in order to enable and facilitate life within the ramparts with their craft services. As the city expanded, times and decisions changed, so the cemetery was abandoned but not forgotten. We can say that right here where Butala’s Butterfly spreads its wings, the past and present live harmoniously for a peaceful future.

I have recently attended an Interpret Europe Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) course and was inspired to look more closely at this phenomenon in my hometown. I look forward to using my new interpretive guiding skills more in my job.

Ivancica is a teacher and tourist guide. She attended an IE CIG course in Karlovac recently and is currently working on her homework to get certified. Ivancica can be contacted at: ivancica_sebalj@yahoo.ca.

To cite this article: Šebalj, Ivančica (2021) ‘Butterfly ready to fly’ in Interpret Europe Newsletter 4-2021, pg.13

Available online: https://interpret-europe.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Newsletter-Winter-2021.pdf