An authority on the culture of Bosnia
by Anthea Brook
Marian Wenzel, who has died aged 69 of cancer, was the world's leading authority on the art and artefacts of medieval Bosnia and Herzegovina; a doughty champion of the Bosnian people during the war waged against them by the Serbian army from 1992 to 1995; and founder director of the charity Bosnia-Herzegovina Heritage Rescue (BHHR).
She never lost sight of the relationship of the artefacts to the lives and ideas of the people who produced and owned them, and, when Bosnia was invaded by Slobodan Milosevic's forces in April 1992, she found herself uniquely well placed to set up BHHR. With the support of its president, Patrick Cormack MP, she campaigned to alert the world to the damage being inflicted upon Bosnia's cultural, historical and natural heritage, and to coax and bully money and publicity from governments and their agencies. Letters and telephone calls poured ceaselessly from her minuscule bedsit.
To meet Marian Wenzel was to be struck by her presence and imposing 6ft height, and to be delighted and astonished by the extraordinary range of her knowledge and the fertility of her ideas. One would gain glimpses of her vivid imagination and spirituality - qualities that found expression in her own paintings and sculptures, her stage and costume designs and her wonderfully theatrical wardrobe (she was a collector of historic dress).
Wenzel always found time to paint and sculpt; even during her most frenetic periods of activity, she would disappear at least once a month to spend a day in the studio of her friend Neil Drury. Her last one-man show, Bosnia: War, Memory And Rebirth, was first shown at Leighton House, London, in 1998, and then travelled around Bosnia.
From the obituary of Marian Wenzel in The Guardian (London), 5 March 2002