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"Women Role Models" with Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Serbia

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

Somewhere in 2021, Nevena Nikolic - Policy Officer, Culture, Media and Public Diplomacy - of the Dutch Embassy in Serbia contacted SAMA to collaborate in a new project called “Female Role Models”. The aim of the embassy was to bring together Dutch and Serbian artists to create ten murals around the country, dedicated to historically important Serbian women. Among the women chosen in collaboration with the Center for Women’s and NGOs dedicated in women rights, such as Be Fem, we find activists, designers, politicians, or sportswomen. In this way, the project seeks to recognise their importance so younger generations will know them and older population will remember them. The idea was to use street art to promote equality in the public space in order to reach more people and raise awareness around the subject-matter.

As you may already know, SAMA is not only a street art museum, but our organisation vegorouosly promotes equality and international visiblity through its collection and projects. Therefore, we could only accept the offer and start working!

The first step was to look for the suitable artist for the project, which finally was chosen with great care - JDL Street Art (Judith de Leeuw). Despite her youth, the Amsterdam-born artist has quickly become a world-renowned artist, working all over the world in the creation of her large-scale murals. One of the main reasons for SAMA to see JDL as the perfect fit for the project was the way she uses art to translate emotion, but the concepts are deeply themed around her surroundings and social issues.

Following the successful co-operational model used by SAMA in the project “Women of the Gulf” with MinBuza in Saudi Arabia (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in 2019 with Noura bin Saidan, JDL was set to give different workshops in Serbia and judge a competition of street artists. In her workshops, she addressed themes such as her artistic technique, her way of painting graffiti with a deeper message and her story as a young female urban artist. She also reflected on what she has learned from the Serbian culture and her interactions on the trip.

As for being a member of a jury, this would be the first time for Judith to take on such role. Although, she did not have any experience as a jury, Judith has competed in many events for the opportunity to paint her artwork on a public wall, and having extensively discussed it, we came to a conclusion that this would be another step in her growth as a professional artist.

Anna Stolyarova, SAMA's founder

At the end the program was a success and JDL made new friends in Serbia, learned how to be a judge and confirmed her position in the forefront of European Street Art movement.

The trip was covered by press and has cultivated a lot of media attention.

The feedback from artists and program participants was very positive:

I am glad that I had an opportunity to participate in the Female Role Models project, for the project itself that is very important for me as a female author, but also for the opportunity to meet and connect with other colleagues participating in the project. I would really like to emphasize, and I believe other participants of the open call would agree, that meeting JDL was especially important. I am into murals for several years, and murals are an important part of my opus next to the classical painting. Judith, as a muralist, helped me expand my horizons and surely move the boundaries of my perception hen it comes to murals. I wouldn’t especially stress the importance of her workshop since it is known how influential her work is in the world of street art. The thing that I would like to stress is that meeting with Judith and talking to her started an avalanche of inspiration in me for some future projects. In her I found a collocutor who understands my poetics completely, builds on it and completes it. Such conversations about art can intertwine for hours and reach the furthest boundaries of metaphysics. It is like knitting, when two threads meet in the perfect rhythm. Judith carries within an energy, rebellion and a dose of mystique perfectly intertwined in the monumental and the archaic.

Marija Šoln, Belgrade street artist

Workshop with Judith was of a good quality and full of content, even though it seemed there was a little time. Actually, she managed to give us all necessary information related to the filed work in this short time – from the way of preparing a sketch, to implementation on big surfaces. Also, I would like to stress that she answered all our questions, and explained everything into details – from how to transfer a sketch to a wall, to which shade to choose for which part… She is a great professional and connoisseur of murals and field work! Once again, thank you for the opportunity!

Marija Savić – KoMARAc, Paraćin street artist

I am thankful to the wonderful artist who shared the experience she gained over the years. She showed how her works are created from the beginning to the finalization. I thank her for the experience on generating ideas, and I appreciate her kindness and assistance while participating in the workshop.

Andrey Kolosov, Belgrade street artist

All photos from events can be found on KC Grad’s Flickr page

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