A Farewell to the Artistic Oasis of Hvar: Marin and Marinka’s Open Studio

8 minute read

We are an open art studio

Anyone who knocks on the door and enters is welcome. This is how the story of a unique art studio begins, a refuge for many visitors and residents of the island, a community that is now permanently closing its doors. Marin and Marinka and their colorful world in the heart of Hvar island will forever disappear in physical form.

Why is this story so special?

You had to visit this place while the summer heat squeezed the air, and the scent of island greenery filled your nostrils. Dol on Hvar is special in one way. This is a place where Queen Teuta built her palace, and place where I always get lost when trying to find whatever adress I need. Upper-lower church, and then another, three entrances, and ten times as many interesting characters living here. My phone behaves as if I’m in the Bermuda Triangle; there’s no help from navigation, and the only reference is vague memories of paths walked long ago, leading me to the green doors on Dužev Dvor Street. I’m surprised there’s even a street name; usually we go by describing houses and pathways.


Artistic Hacienda

The colorful artistic studio is located in an old stone house, a true Dalmatian hacienda made up of several cottages with a large green courtyard in the middle. Here, the works of Marin Ribarić and his life partner, Marinka Radež, have been created for years. Marin and Marinka, it intrigues me to find out how they ended up together

Fateful encounter in Hvar

Marin was painting and working in the city of Hvar at the time, in a gallery at the location of the current Hotel Park, where he also exhibited his artworks. A chance visit forever connected them, like two whirlpools intertwined with a single glance, Marinka tells me. I guess that’s how people click; these are opportunities that happen only once in a lifetime, and a few months later, Marinka exchanged her job as a radio journalist in Germany for life on the island and painting.


Marin’s paintings are large, dominant, and striking, with bold colors and a strong expression. The prints and books you can find in the studio are filled with intimate observations, sketches of places and locations, all interspersed with spilled ink. It’s hard to explain, but I feel a sense of nostalgia and sadness when I’m allowed to touch the paintings and turn every page and notebook; I feel like this should be in a museum under a non-permeable glass dome.

Marinka’s paintings are delicate, feminine, full of animals, flowers, and countless details. They resemble Japanese prints but with motifs from the island of Hvar. Colorful pebbles, pieces of tiles and wood, brushes, and paint are everywhere. All the doors are open, and you can peek everywhere; the studio is like a museum of their lives.

They didn’t live together for long

Marin passed away in August 2009, and Marinka remained. Perhaps for too long, she says. After twenty years of love for the land, water, air, and freedom, bathed in the light of the sky above the island, it’s not easy for her to leave. But the world she’s used to is disappearing. The forest around Stari Grad is disappearing, the dry stone walls in Dol are disappearing, the neighbors have disappeared.

Unrepeatable children’s workshops

My first visit to the studio was during a children’s workshop. Informally, through word of mouth from acquaintances and friends, a group of children of different ages gathers in Marinka’s courtyard, where prepared chairs, glue, and a multitude of colorful broken tiles await us. Her interaction with the children leaves me speechless. “I address them as equals, at eye level,” she tells me, noticing my dumbfounded look.

Children feel at home here.They address her as a friend, explore and run around. It all starts with a game Marinka calls “pass it on.” Following her instructions, children draw parts of a picture, passing them in a circle to one another. Step by step, collaborative drawings are born, with everyone participating. There is no such thing as bad or I can’t do it. Brilliant idea.

Marinka started with children’s workshops 20 years ago. Many of them have already grown up, some return for visits, and some have even brought their own children. They drew and painted on paper, cardboard, T-shirts, made mosaics, paper mache, created dolls, practiced plays, danced, and laughed. Nothing was impossible.

After more than twenty years

After more than twenty years The open studio will permanently close its doors. Marinka is leaving in November. The house and surroundings have become too lonely.

But will she? She says she will. Marin’s paintings, carefully chosen cornerstones of his art, are leaning against the walls of the stone house in Dol. They have no home to adorn. They have no gallery, living room, or luxury yacht. They are the legacy of the island, emotions and memories transferred through a brush. Certified 100% island product. Marinka would like to find a home for these paintings on the island to which they belong. The house is full of her works. The studio is still open; visitors are welcome. If you want to get to know this small, hidden gem, you can contact me at [email protected], and I’ll connect you with Marinka. Thanks for reading!

P.S. Special thanks to Nikolina Roić for the brilliant photos that grace this text. XoXo, M.