COSMOS, LOVE and BACKYARD – there are more and more mosaic artworks on the walls of Szczecin’s abandoned tenement houses or other buildings, thus adding to the beauty of the cityscape. The aim is to involve the locals, to build community and to engage people with the help of art.
The city of Szczecin is located on the north western part of Poland, near the German border. It used to be a German city before World War II, and then in 1945, it became Szczecin from Stettin, and almost the entire German population was replaced by new, Polish residents. At first, the new dwellers found it hard to interpret the cultural heritage left behind by the former habitants of the odd and ruined city. Then, the craft of creating mosaics out of small pieces of glass or ceramics became more and more popular in Poland in the 1950s, and more and more large pieces were made in the city of Szczecin, too: regarded by some as the dominant tourist sights of the city.
Realizing the cultural relevance of technology and the community shaping power of creation, the local OSWAJANIE SZTUKI Association (roughly translated as “to tame with art”) decided that it wanted to revive demolished or abandoned public buildings with mosaics that have a meaning to the local community, as well. “We consider it our mission to create more and more opportunities to meet with the help of art and culture and thus to build our community” – Kinga Rabinska, the manager of the project told us. “Our goal is to encourage people to think about the built environment surrounding them – about the buildings, public spaces, their backyard, streets, stairs, their neighborhood and all in all about the entire city” – she continued.
They involve the locals into almost every phase of creating the mosaics: choosing the location, finalizing the plans and ultimately the creation of the piece are all implemented with community work. “Usually we collaborate with a “local ambassador” closely – this is how we call them, everyone of them is a local dweller. We make sure we check whether our team and our project are welcome, and then we speak to the community to get an approval to continue our work” – Kinga added.
The association develops three mosaic patterns every time, which reflect on the peculiarities or attributes of the given place in one way or another – then the locals decide which one they prefer the most by voting. This is followed by material procurement, which generally consists of recycling the remaining tiles of local stores. Then comes implementation, to which the locals are welcome to join any time, they can help the artists and if all is done, the association reveals the final output in the framework of a small event.
This is how the smallest mosaic called COSMOS (KOSMOS) was born in 2018, which decorates the yard of a cinema called Kosmos. This was followed by the LOVE (MIŁOŚĆ) mosaic, placed on the wall of a tenement house in the city center of Szczecin. Finally, in 2019, the team created their largest mosaic, named BACKYARD (PODWÓRKO).
The good news is the story does not end here. OSWAJANIE SZTUKI is currently working on implementing two additional mosaics, about which the team only revealed that the theme of one of the creations honors women who helped rebuild and revive Szczecin in the post-war period. The two pieces will be completed before October. We can’t wait to see the results!
The participants of the project:
Project manager: Kinga Rabinska, Paulina Stok-Stocka
Designer: Ada Krawczak, Patrycja Makarewicz-Leszczyńska
Technology and logistics: Tomasz Midzio
Contributor: Designer Patrycja Żyżniewska and Grzegorz Piaseczny
The project was implemented with the support of the City of Szczecin and the POŁECZNIK Program.
Photos: Ada Krawczak, Grażyna Iłowiecka
OSWAJANIE SZTUKI | Facebook