Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Polish Bracelet

I had a Polish Bracelet. It was a talismanic object, composed of Polish events that had touched upon me from time to time in my wanderings and whose memory had coloured me like dye. Small things and greater things: a love affair, a machine gun accident, a war, a strike, a rebellion, nights of vodka and close conversation, walks in birch woods and pine forests, lonely moons and bitter winds, music and the hot company of bars. Some had happened close at hand with dreadful and earthquake immediacy. Some had slipped by far away and almost unnoticed but with ground-shaking consequences for this new Europa to which I have returned after long years of absence.

In December 2009, after half a century criss-crossing the world as a mendicant minstrel, painter and entertainer I find myself drawn by an irresistible tintinnabulation, the jingling of charms on my Polish bracelet. I travelled to Poznań, the centre of the Wielkopolska region of Poland. The talisman that drew me to this particular place at this particular time was a poem I had written as a schoolboy on 30 June 1956 entitled ‘A Lament for Poznań’. The date will speak for itself and those tanks, never forgotten, are long gone from today’s Poznań. That schoolboy and his world too are long gone, and I had come to meet a new generation of Poles.

During my stay in Poznań I immersed myself in the city, its streets, its buildings, its squares and lanes, its museums, its churches, its department stores, its cafés, its conventional and its unexpected ways of presenting itself to the world and to me, the lurking observer. I drank in its past and its myths and its painters and poets and took great gulps of its language. I mixed these real and immediate experiences with my old memories and prejudices and perhaps even with some of my fantasies. Having mixed this palette in situ I returned home to Ireland with my Polish bracelet clanking heavily and painted the series of pictures that make up this exhibition: Moja polska bransoletka.
(For Polish Version Click http://mikeabsalompolishversion.blogspot.com/ )

© Mike Absalom 30 January 2010.

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