Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Monday, 16 April 2012

From Red Roofs to Red Chairs

Sarajevo Red Roofs*

Sarajevo 2012

So much red in Sarajevo; the roofs glinting in the late afternoon sun belie the grief and pain still felt by many of its inhabitants. Twenty years ago this month the red roofs of Sarajevo, bathed in the first rays of Spring sunshine, would be witness to the beginnings of a bloody and savage war. Sarajevo became a city under siege, enduring four years of relentless shelling and sniper fire which was to claim so many lives and destroy whole families. Now the city is undergoing some renewal and those families are trying to rebuild their lives, in a country which is still deeply divided.
Where mortar shells exploded on the streets and civilians died, the scars which remained, were filled with red resin; a stark reminder of the blood shed at that spot. Deep indentations at the centre of impact, with smaller ‘petals’ surrounding them earned them the name of ‘Sarajevo Roses’. These flowers would never bloom though, like so many of the city’s children whose lives were cut short. Now a whole new generation is growing up in Sarajevo, babies are born in hope and their families pray fervently that they will never experience the same horrors of war. 
On 6th April 2012, a ‘red river’ runs through Sarajevo’s main street, as plastic chairs are laid perfectly side by side, row upon row, stretching as far as the eye can see.11,541 chairs, one for each citizen killed in the war. Five hundred of those chairs are much smaller than the rest,  and here and there a flower or soft toy is placed, yet another poignant reminder of young lives lost. So much red in Sarajevo.

© Marilytn Brindley
*Sarajevo Red Chairs
The Siege of Sarajevo was the longest siege of a city since the Second World War. In addition to 11,541 dead, there were approximately 50,000 wounded. For 46 months, almost 400,000 people were left without electricity or running water. Approximately 329 shells hit the city every day. The war itself killed over 100,000 across Bosnia, creating two million refugees.
Taking part in 'The Mag’ courtesy of Tess Kincaid who provided the picture prompt of Marc Chagall's 'Red Roofs’.

*Sarajevo Red Roofs courtesy of Live Forever at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

*Sarajevo Red Chairs courtesy of Bizutage (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
[CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], 


  1. The similarities in these pictures are not lost on the viewer... but what a contrast.

  2. What a sad and spectacular scene. The death toll saddens me.

  3. Little Nell, Will the day ever come when we learn and choose to change the world through respect and love instead of war? The vision of red chairs on the street, flowing like a river of blood along the road's course, is overwhelmingly sad. Of course, this Chagall painting would bring the Sarajevo war and it's aftermath to mind, through the red symbolism. Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Perhaps Chagall saw this tragedy reflected in the collective primal sea of possible futures . So very real

  5. remarkable how you have shown these similarities

  6. Excellent account of this Balkan tragedy.

  7. The similarities are indeed remarkable. Reading your words sent a chill through me - all those lives lost. Sad, sad, sad - will we ever learn?


  8. How sad. There is something particularly affecting about the fact that they use chairs, such ordinary things, waiting for people to come and sit down on them and representing those who can never do so again.

  9. Yes, horrible what happened to Sarajevo. You captured it brilliantly in all those red chairs. Cheers

  10. this was an incredible magpie...way to make it culturally relevant...and rather sobering...what a reminder all those chairs...ugh...war sucks...

    1. This is so startling. I remember when that war began, I was so sad. I kept thinking, (wrong or right) that those people were just like me and wondered what would it be like for war to hit America again.

      Thank you for this post, Nell.

      Kathy M.

  11. Excellent post... heartrending...

  12. Wow. Wow. Just an incredible image.

    Thank-you for this terrific post.

  13. Wonderful post! Who took the photo of the red river of chairs? It is terrific!


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