MYSTERIES OF CHILDHOOD - JERZY FICOWSKI Exhibition/ told by Bożena Szroeder

First of all, we should understand that this exhibition is something more than just a literary exhibition: it is a perfect workshop we use in our everyday work with children and youth.

A continuous contact with Jerzy Ficowski, a Borderlander, and his inspiring us legacy has been very important for us.

Here, in Borderland, we deeply believe that childhood defines our creative attitudes, supplies life’s capital and is the most proper time to lean towards the Other.

We endeavour to show that through our explorations of the life and creativity of Jerzy Ficowski. We are setting on a journey to meet the small Juraś who from his early days intensively and with great sensitivity observed the world, the nature and people around. His childhood was brutally interrupted by the Second World War which forced him into adulthood making Jerzy Ficowski, in spite of his young age, join the Warsaw Uprising. He became a member of the Home Army.

His poetry for children written in the post-war years is a kind of return to the brutally interrupted childhood. The poet restores the lost time trying to live his childhood again already as an adult person. And we, reading him, discover that childhood can become a kind of a vaccine, a lesson in compassion and meeting with otherness. 

Assuming Jerzy Ficowski’s perspective, we tell about the world which was close to him, and so we tell stories of the Gypsies the way the poet envisaged them. And he did have a chance to get to know their culture and establish deep interpersonal relationships with them. That is how he discovered Papusza and her poetic genius. He also entered into other, authentic relationships, based on empathy and respect, allowing him to tell others about the Gypsies.

It is all the more important that the world in that form described by him is already gone, it is completely unknown for today's youth and well worth a closer acquaintance.

The same applies to his relationship with the Jewish culture. Jerzy Ficowski witnessed Holocaust as a young man.

In his post-war writings, A Letter to Chagall and A Reading of Ashes, he could not come to terms with the tragic fate of the Jews and the fact that he had to become only a passive observer without a chance to give help.

Jerzy Ficowski offers us a lesson in the deep understanding of otherness. Dealing with people of other nationalities or cultures, he still had to face the question whether he himself was a Gypsy or a Jew. He would answer that whenever they were hurt by others he did become a Gypsy or a Jew. Intercession for others was one of the most important values of his Decalogue.

The workshops organized in connection with the exhibition are very popular with visitors. We were visited by all the children in Sejny, we had arrivals from Poland and abroad.

What do the workshops consist of? We take our children on a trip to Jerzy Ficowski's world. It starts with each participant sitting on a swing suspended in one of the rooms of the exhibition and  trying to make up their own poem. Children get engaged willingly, it comes more difficult to teachers or other adults.

Jerzy Ficowski’s Childhood Room allows visitors to look closer at the relationships in the poet’s family, perceive the poet’s sensitivity and accelerated maturation.

He had a close and tender relationship with his mother who was responsible for Juraś’ great empathy. His father, a much sterner personality, introduced him to the world of books. His sister, paradoxically his carer, was a much more practical person.

The reading of fragments of JF’s childhood diaries reveal his great sensitivity towards nature coming to the fore in e.g. the voice of his grandmother in the country where he passionately observed all creatures: birds, worms, and especially butterflies.

The records of the dreams of the ten-year-old Juraś betray his great poetic talent.

Our workshops are devoted to two fragments of his journals: a few pages long, very long and at the same time poetic record of his observations of a wasp from April 1939, contrasted with just a few months later description of the bombardment of Warsaw in September 1939. One can notice how totally his world changed, even his handwriting changed - it is no longer Juraś, but Jerzy who takes responsibility for the fate of the city.

In this context, his writing of poetry for children seems to be his longing for the lost childhood.

We demonstrate it to children through an installation with suspended books: children lower them on specially for that purpose mounted rolls.

They also record their childhood readings. Specially designed for that purpose boxes contain already scores of notes which show that we actually all mature reading the same books, such as Andersen’s fairy tales or poems by Tuwim.  A unique community of readers is born as a result.

Visitors to our exhibition and participants of our workshops are taken to the no longer existent world of the Gypsies, also through films. Two of those were made during our common work with the children in Borderland and belong to the Fairy Tale Film Collection. Other two are really unique, they were shot in the sixties and were taken from the archives of Semafor.  The film screenplays were written by the poet himself in collaboration with his wife, Elżbieta. This part of the exhibition is accompanied by Wiesław Szumiński’s illustrations to Branches of the Sun Tree, the book of Gypsy fairy tales collected and edited by Jerzy Ficowski.

Our journey through the decades of JF’s creativity is accompanied by poems for children illustrated by such artsits as: Tadeusza Makowski, Olga Siemaszko, Adam Kilian and Wiesław Szumiński.

The presented collections include also a unique engraving by Wiesław Szumiński for Bajędy augustowskich lasów  [Fairy-tales of Augustów Forest] published by Borderland.

It is the only original engraving from the artist’s collection, other engravings created a unique book donated to the poet by Borderland. In his interview for TV Białystok, Szumiński remembers that Ficowski was very demanding and able to openly discuss the delivered to him artwork.

The opening of the exhibition took place on 30 April 2015 and participated by Elżbieta Ficowska.

She remembers it: “For me, apart from being personally moved, the exhibition is the joy of a meeting between Jerzy Ficowski and children.  Thanks to the authors of the exhibition, their sensitivity to poetry and deep knowledge of children, the meeting takes place at many dimensions.

It allows the small participants almost a direct contact with the poet and close encounter with his creativity, encouraging personal expression.This has contributed to the creation of a kind of communion of feeling, understanding of the world in the way available only to children. In one word, I really enjoy the exhibition. I enjoy the fact that my husband is still alive in what he bequeathed, in the treasures rediscovered by new generations”.

The exhibition is still available, though there are plans for it to travel abroad.


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Darowizny uzyskane przez Fundację Pogranicze

W związku z otrzymaniem darowizn, na podstawie art. 18 ust. 1f, pkt 2 ustawy z dnia 15 lutego 1992 r. o podatku dochodowym od osób prawnych (Dz. U. z 2011 r. Nr 74, poz. 397, ze zmianami), Fundacja Pogranicze podaje do publicznej informacji, że łączna kwota uzyskana z tego tytułu w okresie od 01.01.2018 r. do 31.12.2018 r. wyniosła 66.006,31 zł.

W 2018 roku Fundacja uzyskała również kwotę 16.106,30 zł w formie wpłat z 1% podatku oraz 5.131,31 z tytułu zbiórki publicznej nr 2018/2901/OR.

Otrzymane darowizny Fundacja Pogranicze w całości przeznaczyła na realizację działań statutowych.

Towarzystwo Inwestycji Społeczno – Ekonomicznych S.A. w Warszawie udzieliło nam pożyczki na zamknięcie inwestycji oraz pomogło zorganizować montaż finansowy przy współpracy z Polskim Bankiem Spółdzielczym w Ciechanowie dla zapewnienia pełnej płynności przy prowadzeniu inwestycji związanej z rewitalizacją zabytkowego kompleksu dworskiego w Krasnogrudzie, w którym powstaje Międzynarodowe Centrum Dialogu.

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