Little Queens

Tereza Bušková reimagines
an ancient Moravian ritual


By Kate Mothes

The historic regions of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia comprise the Czech Republic, a landlocked nation bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Poland to the northeast, and Slovakia to the southeast. The deep histories and rich traditions of this part of Europe form the focus of artist Tereza Bušková‘s multidisciplinary practice. Born in Prague and now based in Birmingham, she explores and researches European customs with an interest in the ways crafts and customs connect people to ancestral lands.

Slavic rituals often form the starting point for Bušková’s video, performance, print, and public art projects. In her recent film Little Queens, she reimagines the ancient Moravian festival of Královničky, or “The Little Queens.” “On the cusp of spring and summer, rural communities used to celebrate their daughters in order to strengthen their own connection with nature and assure a bountiful harvest,” she says. Traditionally, girls gathered on a Sunday in spring for Královničky, wearing white dresses, carrying green branches, and singing folk songs in a celebratory procession. Bušková adds, “Some elements of this ritual have been lost to time, but through a collaborative process, the participating communities revisited and restored The Little Queens for a 21st century audience.”

Two locations set the scene for the performance: Warley Woods, which is within Birmingham, and West Bromwich just outside of the city. The costumes were reinterpreted and adapted from traditional Moravian designs by the artist’s longtime collaborator Mariana Novotná, a costume-maker based in Prague. Novotná incorporated some historical fabrics and decorations, which were mixed with the new so that they could be “recycled and given new life.”

Filmed in 2022, the performance coincided with the devastating displacement of tens of thousands of Ukrainians due to Russia’s assault on the country. “Little Queens reached out to the diverse communities of Birmingham and the surrounding Black Country, in order to create a safe space for open dialogue about transcultural womanhood and refugee experience,” Bušková says. Ultimately, through a celebratory ceremony of togetherness, the artist intended to facilitate “a richer, more cohesive community—one that can weather the relentless waves of anti-immigration sentiment, misogyny, and xenophobia.”

Little Queens was supported by Arts Council England and Visit Sandwell. Find more on the artist’s website and Instagram.

All images © Tereza Bušková. Header and photographs 2, 4-7 by Carl Gibbons. Photographs 1 and 3 by Dee Patel.

Direction: Tereza Bušková

Project Partners: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, Brushstrokes Community Project, MotherShip Projects CIS

Supporters: Bearwood Community Hub, Creative Black Country, Multistory, Oak House Museum, Warley Woods Community Trust

Project management: We Can Create

Costumes: Mariana Novotná

Canopy design and production: Studio Polpo

Canopy embroidery workshops: Tina Francis

Members of the Sandwell communities

Markéta Patelová “The Queen”
Karolina Wegrzyn “The King”
Zoe Simon “Spring Goddess”
+ Little Queens

Bella Emerson – cello
Oliver Clayton – violin

Karolina Wegrzyn

Camera: Chris Keenan

Editing: Stifani Brothers

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