The protagonist of our project is a popular Polish migrant bird – the white stork. It comes to Poland from Africa in late March or early April. The birds pair up, construct breeding nests, bring up their young nestlings and in late August / early September fly back to Africa.
In Poland, we love storks. The stork is a herald of spring. It is sizeable and beautiful, rattles pleasantly and eats vermin. According to a piece of the folklore wisdom, where a stork nests, there people are happier. Another version claims that storks nests only on the farms of decent people, as “where storks are, the home is happy”. The stork protects from misfortunes. After all, “where a stork sits in its nest, the lighting will not strike”.
We watch storks as they take care for their offspring with dedication. Storks are models of parental devotion, and their nests are a constant element of the Polish landscape. Józef Chemoński’s painting Bociany / Storks, painted almost 120 years ago, still belongs to the most recognised and popular ones. The autumnal departure of storks is obligatory information for the youngest Polish pupils. And this concludes the stork education, and the effort of their wanderings is lost somewhere along the way. The bird almost always travels, traversing continents and seas.
Storks nest in places which are friendly towards them. For years, Poland has been the country with the highest numbers of storks in Europe. These days, more can be found in Spain. Drying of swamps, river regulation and adapting meadows for cultivation result in fewer and fewer sightings of storks in Poland. The Polish climate does not serve these birds either – they prefer to be Spanish storks and this is where they have been nesting recently. At the times of the global destruction of nature and global warming, they may disappear entirely from our meadows and fields. Polish storks (as they are born here) perceive Poland from their own bird’s perspective, while us, the inhabitants of the land, can see them only from a frog’s point of view.
We have constructed five stork nests “inhabited” by storks and other birds. An exotic toucan, a parrot, a flamingo are made of plastic and have come a long way from Asia (probably from China). The stork does not mind the company of other birds and, as a bigger one, offers shelter welcoming them to its nest. Can only plastic birds be hospitable?
The twin sisters Anna and Irena Nawrot were born on 21 March 1960 in Jarosław and live and work in Lublin. Graduates of the Art Education Institute (the Institute of Fine Arts at present) at the Maria Skłodowska-curie University in Lublin. They earned their diplomas in 1983.
Anna (together with Jan Gryka) has been running Galeria Biała at the Centre for Culture in Lublin since 1985. She also curates outdoor exhibitions (she co-curated the 10th edition of Open City in Lublin in 2018 with Mirosław Haponiuk). Her artistic output includes seventeen solo exhibitions (Galeria BWA and Galeria Biała in Lublin, Galeria Pracownia Dziekanka, Stodoła and Galeria Rzeźby SBWA Kuchnia in Warsaw, Galeria ON in Poznań and Stredoslovenská Galéria in Banska Bystrica, Galeria BWA in Kielce), and participated in fifty four group exhibitions in Poland and abroad. She works with photography, installation, text, object and fabric. She uses ready-made textile objects such as dresses, bed sheets, ties, or tapestries which she subject to recycling of a kind. They become records of personal experience of a biographical nature, as well as of broadly commented issues regarding the cultural image of sex, or gender related problems.
Irena has been associated with her home university since 1984 (at present, she runs the Institute of Photography and Visual Knowledge). A full professor since 2011. Her output includes thirty six solo exhibitions (Galeria Biała, Galeria Labirynt 2, Galeria BWA, Galeria Fotografii Prospero in Lublin, Galeria Pracownia Dziekanka, Galeria Stodoła and Mała Galeria ZPAF-CSW in Warsaw, Galeria ON in Poznań, Galeria FF in Łódź, Galerie Fotoforum in Kappeln, Galeria Pusta in Katowice, Stadtmuseum in Münster, Galéria Gerulata in Bratislava, Štátna Galéria in Banska Bystrica, Muzeum Stanisława Staszica in Piła, Bielska Galeria BWA in Bielsko-Biała, Box & Galerie XL, Cultureel Centrum in Maasmechelen, and Galeria BWA in Kielce), and eighty three group exhibitions in Poland and abroad. She works with intermedia photography. Her technique of choice consists in the multi-colouring of black and white photographic enlargements. In her photo stagings, she uses her experience of human corporeality as a vehicle of universal reflection on the passage of time in terms of personal experience. For the past few years, she has been enlarging and sewing her photographs to create large format patchworks.