No 1 (61) 2005
January - March

Inner and Outer Prospects

The above is the title of the Polish ? Scotch artistic exchange held in the summer of 2004 at the Polish Sculpture Center in Orońsko and at the Warsaw XX1 Gallery, followed by shows at some display centers in Scotland. The concept has been based on family ties.
Eulalia Domanowska

B. in 1960. Art historian, critic, curator. She publishes texts on contemporary art.

Eulalia Domanowska
Two years ago, during a large family reunion, Alicja Łukasiak was surprised and happy to discover a kindred spirit and an artist among her cousins. Karen Strang who lives in a beautiful city of Sterling, has Polish roots and she is involved in art. She works for ?Hanging Together?, an informal group embracing about six or seven persons; Peter Russell being the oldest. Majority of them have graduated from the Glasgow Academy of Fine Arts, famous school developed by Charles R. Mackintosh at the beginning of the former century. Their works displayed in Warsaw referred to a political event of Poland accession to the EU. For numerous citizens of the Commonwealth and Poland, this was a true end of the World War 2nd which opened new opportunities for travel and mutual contacts. The artists dealt with the paradox of political transformations in Europe. Scotland ? though situated at the outskirts of the continent ? has been one of the leaders in the field of economy and culture. Centrally located Poland, for many years had been isolated from Western European countries. The concept of periphery has been undergoing transformations and constant re-negotiations, including the area of art. Peter Russell has mounted an installation out of railway decks, a story about crossing the borders and the problems related to this. Borders have been permanently shifted. Heavy duty materials, applied by the artist, underline a sense of discomfort felt ? paradoxically ? by people entering the so called 21st century Free World. The Irishman, convinced about mutual solidarity, comments sarcastically: ?Our sick mentality has considerably moved away from Alexander Yevtuschenko?s idealistic desire to lift all borders.? Carol Mason has shown traveling bags moving along with us; full of heavy stuff taken for a journey but also full of memories. Jonathan Claxton and Karen Laing have presented a multiplied, rhythmic, spatial structure referring to the rut of everyday life and stability. The network structure might also relate to the fact that one is constantly tangled up in something. Karen Strang has made a very personal installation out of books. ?The Family Library? has been a Polish ? Scotch mix, exactly as its author, whose mother is Polish and father is a Scotch painter. Karen has had to cope with her dual identity which gives her both; advantages and problems. In the fall, four Polish artists paid back the visit: Joanna Hoffman from Poznań, Alicja Łukasiak, Jan Mioduszewski and Grzegorz Drozd from Warsaw. This has been a very busy trip, full of artistic workshops, shows and meetings. The Polish artists have been hosted at the Lumsden Scotch Sculpture Center, they have taken part in the Open Ateliers Program and in the Alloa Polish Festival. Further, they have presented their exhibition at the Falkirik Park Gallery, neighboring the Callendar House old castle situated in a splendid park boasting golf fields. Jan Mioduszewski has shown ?The Furniture Factory?, containing elements of a geometric illusory installation and performance. The artist, dressed in a wooden like attire, has been lying motionless for an hour, as one of the elements of his composition ? an axonometric , perspective oriented projection referring to the constructivist tradition. Joanna Hoffman has presented an imaginary interior of human brain at the moment of contemplation. She encourages one to look inside oneself, the experience sensed during a train trip when one is deep in thought or dreamlike contemplation. During the process of relaxation, human brain waves shift into the alpha condition in which ?nerve cells are more synchronized resulting in an increase of creative potential, imagination and learning skills?. The author has been interested in the presented condition of meditation, and she accompanied it with musical registration of a corresponding brain image. The installation by Alicja Łukasiak has shown the sweet safety of childhood, seen as sugar cubes structure dissolved in bright red soap bubbles, all these have been happening to the horrible sounds of breaking glass. The structure by Grzegorz Drozd has referred to repressive moral control exercised by the Polish Catholicism which - instead of being a leading force - turns into a trap. There have been three mouse traps behind the triple bars of the triptych. It seems that vital results of the artistic exchange include mutual learning about their respective countries and cultures, as well as the prevailing stereotypes verification. “Inner and Outer Prospects”, the Polish – Scotch artistic exchange project, the Polish Sculpture Center, Orońsko, August 2004; the XX1 Gallery, Warsaw, September 2004.