1990’s THE WILD WEST IN POLAND

Solidarity movement poster with John Wayne as a cowboy

WILD WEST IN THE WILD EAST

The Round Table Agreement happened on the 5th of April in 1989. Today it is considered to be the last day of Communism in Poland, just in theory though as we found out many, many years later. Bunch of guys met at a round table, made some agreements, few deals and they called it the end of the evil era. Four hundred and fifty-two politicians were sitting around that table. The shape of it represented the wholeness, eternity and timelessness.

politicians meeting at the round table
The Round Table Agreement 1989, Warsaw, Poland

What goes around, goes around, goes around
Comes all the way back around …
(Justin Timberlake)

POST COMMUNIST ERA

Like after any other revolution, people here also naively believed in change for the better of course. Lech Wałęsa was selling the slogan of Poland becoming second Japan (at the time the fastest-growing economy). As you rightly guessed, that has not happened, yet. Despite the hope and ambition for wealth and prosperity, it was the very opposite for the common Polish citizens. The situation very much resembled the story in a great novel written by George Orwell ‘Animal farm’. Unemployment was growing, factories were closing down, Polish companies were sold to foreign investors. A month would not pass without street protests all over the country. People were looking back with nostalgia at the Communism times, saying; life was much better back than … at least it seemed like that for the most. Everyday life was slowly becoming more and more miserable.

Farmers_strike_Poland_1990
Farmers strike, Poland, 1990s

Not a single living ray
could break through the flood of clouds
chased by winds.
‘Ravens and crows will peck us’ by Stefan Żeromski

By 1991 the Soviet troops left Poland for good. At the same time, petty traders from the east came to Polish towns and filled the street markets with goods straight from the cold east. They were selling everything from; gold to kitchen tools, watches, furs, toys, even live bears … the diversity of the merchandising stock was endless. The eastern goods were transported in huge personal suitcases rather than international cargo containers.

Soviet_peaked_hat

Colour TV was becoming very popular at the time. Since there was no access to the firm electronic brands, most of the Polish homes had a Russian brand called Rubin – those TV’s tended to go on fire when heated up! Their popularity quickly was replaced with something of better quality.

People would believe in anything at the time. One of the most successful and quirky programs was a live session with a Russian healer Anatolij Kaszpirowski. The man had the power to heal people through the TV screen. Apparently. His slow, wearisome, tedious voice put most of the people asleep, especially the elderly once. He had the power to do that for sure! One, two, three and the viewer is snoring …

Anatolij_Kaszpirowski
Anatolij Kaszpirowski

AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY

Italian cheap car brand Fiat quickly appeared on the market. The great exodus of the young Polish entrepreneurs hungry for the better, bigger engines took off to the West of Europe.

Italian_car_fiat_1990One thing that brings back positive recollections is the Jarocin summer music festival. The most uncommercial musical event of the times. The town is not far from where I come from.  Back then no one was selling today’s popular festival gadgets: ‘Been there, done that’ got the t-shirt.

The 90’s in Poland was the beginning of let’s call it capitalism but in a pretty wild version of it.

Polish_transport_invention_1990

All images are linked to the sources.

Written by: Aleksandra Walkowska

POLISH FASHION IN 1960s

WHAT WAS POLAND LIKE IN THE 1960s?

My reflection of the Polish fashion and design in the 1960s is based on the black and white movies I have seen such as Knife in the water by Roman Polański or Night train by Jerzy Kawalerowicz. The generation born during the war would be in their early twenties by then. It was natural to aim for change as the wounds of war were healing.

Knife in the water by Romand Polański, 1962
‘Knife in the water’ by Romand Polański, 1962
Night train by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 1959
‘Night Train’ by Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 1959

With the new Polish Communist leader Władysław Gomułka and his vision of socialistic Poland, there was an expansion of block apartments built out of cheap material. Every year thousands of them were released to the public. Those apartments were tiny therefor rooms were multifunctional. Dining rooms during the day would be used as bedrooms at the night time. Multifunctional furniture such as the famous wall unit was present in every apartment. There was no uniqueness, the same style, the same furniture perhaps the colour would change, most of the apartments looked the same.

Wall unit, Poland, Communism era
Wall unit, Poland, Communism era

FIVE YEARS PLAN

Economical and industrial growth was planned five years ahead and it would consider infrastructure and mass production. It meant that the consumer would have to wait five years to purchase the goods.

Ladies Confection was the phrase used instead of fashion and it was run by the Ministry of Light Industry controlled by the Fashion Planning Committee. The officials did not care about the design of the clothes often they would fall asleep during the presentations of them. Fashion brands the way we know them today did not exist. The Department of Clothing Industry would only supply 10% of the market need. In reality, it meant there was nothing in the stores for ages, occasionally goods were sent to the stores which would create massive demand and aggressive queues. The shop assistants were terrified confronting greedy customers.

Drop of goods, Communism in Poland
Queues during Communism in Poland

People on Polish streets looked like they were wearing working uniforms. The dullness of the design brought the need for individuality. Polish women were making new garments out of the existing one. Skirts were made out of old trousers, summer shoes out of the runners, tops were made out of a baby cotton diapers. Despite the obstacles, they say Polish women were very well dressed those days, they made the streets more vibrant. Limitation made it more desired and innovative.

Barbar Hoff, Przekrój, 1960
Barbara Hoff, Przekrój, 1960

Jeans symbolised freedom and western lifestyle, but only the very fortunate had a chance to own a pair. Wearing jeans was a manifestation of a disagreement with the current system. Authorities would shave heads of young guys with long hair, it was seen as immoral western influence.

Woman in a pair of jeans, somewhere in Communistic Poland

BARBARA HOFF

Barbara Hoff is a Polish fashion journalist and a costume designer. During the Communism, she became the most popular fashion designer and the only one who managed to create her own line outside the central planning.

Projekt Barbary Hoff
Designed by Barbara Hoff
Projekt Barbary Hoff
Designed by Barbara Hoff

I had such a feeling that I change something in Poland. I thought that fashion would open people’s heads a little because, under the influence of socialist doctrine, people began to shut their minds. It seemed to me that if society would know about fashion, it would change mentally in some way. Fashion was my idea to change Poland. I always had the feeling that an intelligent man has a duty to do something for his country. This is his responsibility. I based my fight against socialism on fashion. I could have come up with something else, it just happened. As it is now said, it seems unreal, funny, even pompous, but it was! – Barbara Hoff (source)

All images are linked to the original sources.

Written by: Aleksandra Walkowska

A. Walkowska

TANGO, MILONGA IN DUBLIN 2011

Tango-milonga, Dublin 2011

MILONGA EVENING

The third time I went with my camera for the milonga evening I was feeling well experienced and prepared.

Milonga dance incorporates the same basic elements as Tango but permits a greater relaxation of legs and body. Movement is normally faster, and pauses are less common. It is usually a kind of rhythmic walking without complicated figures, with a more humorous and rustic style in contrast with the serious and dramatic Tango. (source: here)

I had to check myself what a milonga is …

Tango evenings in Dublin were always more of social events for me. Great way to network. The Third Place as they call it in marketing. The kind of a place where one meets people who are not connected to the work, family or personal past. Conversations are universal, thought to require good social skills and some general knowledge to share with others while conversing. Unless one wants to talk about tango … but there is no point of bringing wood into the forest.

There happened a good few marriages in the group, few children were born and some painful break-ups too. Some left Ireland for good, some stayed loyal to the dance for years and years. People come and go. The endorphins keep bringing people together.

I am very happy with this shoot. A couple of tango dancers are standing still, concentrating. Silence before the storm. It is so relaxing. Every time I look at it, I am Zen.

Tango-milonga, Dublin 2011
Tango-milonga, Dublin 2011

Author: Aleksandra Walkowska

POP UP SHOP

Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival

POP UP SHOP FOR MONTREAL JAZZ FESTIVAL

Montreal Jazz Festival

Inspiration

The concept for the pop-up shop is a combination of two elements; wood the Canadians natural resource and jazz music. The construction of the container is solid and classic. Walls are covered in a black colour, spiced with an orange in reference to vivid notes in jazz. The display units are inspired by the shape of music coming out of a saxophone or a grand piano.

The Montreal Jazz Festival takes place every year in July and it is the largest jazz festival in the world. Every year it brings in around 3000 artists from 30 countries. The festival hosts in around 2 million people every year.

If it ever came to a construction of this pop-up shop converted from a freight train container I imagine it in a dense greenery, park or in the forest. Often, the deep, dense of greenery is so dark it appears black. Therefore, the colours of the pop-up shop would balance very well in nature, creating a coherent unity.

Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival
Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival
Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival
Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival
Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival
Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival
Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival
Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival
Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz FestivalPop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival
Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival
Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival
Pop up shop for Montreal Jazz Festival

Author: Walkowska Aleksandra

TEXTILES, PATTERNS AND FASHION, NCAD

FASHION DESIGN IN NCAD

Fashion Design aims to educate students to become professional practitioners in the field of fashion and related industries. Students are encouraged to have an awareness of fashion in its social and cultural context and to bring that understanding to their work.  The department places great value on its industry and professional links that gives students an insight into real-world commercial requirements. Emphasis is placed on developing informed, creative designers, who are prepared for the needs of industry. (source: here)

RACHEL MORAN

Exhausted

This screen and digitally printed collection for unisex street-ear are designed using heavy cotton, sweatshirt knits, natural denim and jersey to create an Autumn/Winter collection. The theme of this collection is sleep deprivation.  The character Timothy was developed through an exploration of this topic. His night-time imagination, the stagnant light and frustrating times are explored to create an original and eccentric aesthetic.

NIAMH TIGHE

Connect Five

My design process is driven by colour, surface and construction. Architectural forms, geometric patterns and 60s and 70s interiors inspire me. For my degree show, I have created a series of playful, interlocking, multimedia textile modules that can be adapted and rearranged for a multitude of interior purposes.

Instagram: nimhttextiles

JENNIFER CUMMINS

Words can heal, art can be anything

My work is driven by the need to represent some of the challenges of mental health through materials, imagery and text; to represent the world in a different way. The faces are a depiction of the multitude of directions that someone’s life can take when they are at the point of crisis.

Instagram: jennifertextileart

Author: Walkowska Aleksandra

NCAD FASHION, DUBLIN

FASHION&TEXTILE SHOW IN NCAD, DUBLIN

The aim of the School is to create a design culture engaged in an ongoing debate on all aspects of design, visual communication, fashion and craft; a culture that thrives on new ideas, new ways of doing things and new areas of exploration. We encourage our students to experiment and take risks in order to carve new aesthetic paths and make technical innovations within, and beyond, their design discipline. (source: click here)

JENNIFER REID

Poison Ivy

Research is driven by childhood memories and themes around civilisation versus nature. Contrasting structured silhouettes and playful tulle, my womenswear collection portrays what we usually view as a weakness becoming a strength.

ELLIE CONNOLLY

Passion in the Kitchen

A romantic ephemeral collection based on my parent’s relationship in their restaurant. Creative fabric manipulation techniques combined with an organic approach to garment construction are the main drives in my work.

insta: ellieconnolly9

NIAMH McTIERNAN

Shimmering Crowntails

My aim is to reflect the beauty of nature in the clothes that we wear. Shimmering Crowntails is an exploration of the reflective and refractive metallic surface qualities of fish. The challenge is to turn something old into something new, to create beautiful handcrafted unique, vintage garments with a contemporary look.

niamhmctiernan.wordpress.com

ANJA MAYE

Luv Club

Luv Club brings together two contrasting identities: traditional Croatian dress and the creativity instigated in a clubbing environment. I pay homage to the Licitar, a gift of love and use my personal documentation of clubs and parties to create a new identity. A celebration of love and party culture.

Instagram: anjamaye

LAUREN GIBSON

Raithneach

In ancient Ireland, mythology and folklore were a fundamental part of the knowledge encompassing each tree. They were talismans, each with their own meanings, uses and stories. My work explores native Irish woodlands through the juxtaposition of each species recreated in cloth, with excerpts from the National Folklore Collection.

Insta: laursgibson

OTHER FASHION&TEXTILE ARTISTS

I could not find a link or a name to all the artists featured in this post. If you recognise your artwork here please, contact me and I will provide the relevant links.

Author: Walkowska Aleksandra