Polish Cultural Week 2016: 3 painters- Ilona Kazimierska-Majka, Magdalena Miler, Anna Smolińska-Howie. 10 - 19 October 2016
Opening: Monday, 10 October, 5.30-7pm
Opening hours: Tues-Fri 1-5pm, Sat 12-3pm
Polish culture, it seems, is well established in Northern Ireland. If one would measures cultural integration simply by the availability of foreign food, the Polish population is doing well. Most major supermarkets now stock Polish products; from buttermilk to sausages and the ‘Karolina Shops’, a chain of small grocery stores, who offer everything from freshly baked rye bread to Polish magazines, are widespread. And since Polish is the second most spoken language in Northern Ireland, ahead of Irish, who would deny their place in our society.
Since the vote in May to leave the EU (Northern Ireland voted to remain), anti-foreign assaults- both physically and verbally- are in the increase, here in the North and the rest of the UK.
This is now the 10th Polish Cultural Week. What started with a picnic event in Botanic Gardens in 2006, soon became a major annual festival, representing many art forms: theatre, music, film, visual arts and more. PS² linked up with the festival since 2008 which allowed us to show many outstanding projects by internationally known artist from Poland.
This year, Andrea Dymus, the organiser of the programme, has selected three Polish painters who live in Northern Ireland: Ilona Kazimierska-Majka, Magdalena Miler and Anna Smolińska-Howie. Three female artists, who all have other job/work commitments, but dedicate much of their spare time to work creatively.
Resembling a community gallery, they display their paintings and drawings in their own way, giving each artist their dedicated space.Their work is representational and shows different ways how the artists view and transform our reality: from seaside paintings of Newcastle, to imagined landscapes and surreal notations in drawing.
For PS², the main accent of this project is on the importance of creativity by artists, who continue their practice in their new surroundings, alongside job and family.
A tough struggle, more so for female artists, but a rewarding one as it seems- and inspiring too.
About the artists
Ilona Kazimierska-Majka comes from Będzin, a small town in Silesia, Poland. There, she worked as a dental technician and had never thought she would move to Northern Ireland. She came here over 8 years ago; first for only a moment, then for a couple of months, but this moment lasts till now. She started painting 5 years ago. She was missing her family, her country and those feelings inspired her. In her works she mainly shows the beauty of nature, she used to paint horses, but now she prefers landscapes. She is also interested in unusual and magical moments. Her favourite painting methods are pastels, watercolour and oil.
Magdalena Miler comes from Bydgoszcz, Poland. She lived and worked in Poland for most of her life and only came to Belfast recently. Magdalena Miler is a professional photographer, retoucher, archivist, sign language interpreter and an abstract artist. In her work she uses a method which has not been named so far – she calls it „dotting”. Her pieces are filled with dots of different size and colour, which make a full picture straight from her imagination. Magdalena Miler has been using this method for over 30 years now. Her works were exhibited in ETC Gallery and Orion Gallery in Bydgoszcz. She is also interested in design and decoration.
Anna Smolińska-Howie was born in Szczecinek, Poland. With the age of 5, she lived with her family in Poznań. She worked as a professional child minder until 1993, when she left for Belgium, where she settled in Leuven. Apart from working there, she studied in Languages College and Stedelijke Academie voor Beeldende Kunst, graduating in drawing and oil painting. During her studies, Anna Smolińska-Howie took part in group exhibitions in Belgium and Holland. Together with her husband she moved to Northern Ireland in 2006. Since 2008 she has been working as a Polish interpreter for the NHS in Northern Ireland. The beauty of surroundings and love for photography and travelling became her passion, expressed in visual arts. Some selected and presented pictures are part of her first solo-exhibition called "Being here - Going wild", which was on view on 18th August 2016 in John Luke's Gallery in Belfast. Pictures painted in oil on canvas are inspired by the beauty of the Mourne Mountains and the South-Eastern coast of Northern Ireland.
For more information about the Polish Cultural Week 2016 see.