I have been surrounded by books for as long as I can remember. And it was not only my collection of poems by Brzechwa or Tuwim, or tales of Brothers Grimm. What I loved most were my dad’s albums of painters: thick volumes of Bosch’s retrospectives, Witkacy, Chełmoński and other big names – I was browsing them with blushed cheeks, trying to recreate them on my drawing pad. I really loved it! Later, when I was in high school, I spend the lunch money that my parents gave me, on books. Obviously they must have noticed how the bookshell in my room fills with new positions, but they never asked where did I get money from.
Later came polish studies, during which I “consumed” tons of more or less interesting books. Some of them I bought, about others I would rather forget. And because of the overload of these “essential readings, obligatorily with National Library’s introduction”, at the end of my studies there was a period of rebellion. The rebellion, that was displaying an almost total lack of interest in reading. I stopped buying books, I no longer wanted to burrow myself under the blanket with a book, to spend few hours in a completely new world, isolated from what’s here and now.
The turn happened suddenly. Just after studies I got my first real job. I became a bookseller in Czuły Barbarzyńska, a bookstore-cafe in Warsaw. There I came back to the world, which no one forced me to get to know it. I read what I wanted. I bought what I wanted (the significant thing was huuuuge employee’s discount). And above all – I got to know, emerging in Poland in that time, the market of children’s literature, that noone was talking about on polish philology.
My inborn curiosity of the World came back. After few weeks of working I knew almost every children’s book by heart. I couldn’t help but wonder, that besides wonderful, wise and funny stories, there are so many beautifully designed and published books. That basically I wanted to own every one of them. And I wanted my future kids to have them.
The effect is that a long time before Mania was born, we started assembling her book collection. The thing that changed after she was born, was a total lack of remorse: finally I wasn’t buying all those books for myself! And now, after Jaś was born, I have a double excuse.
So when I noticed that Zachęta opens an exhibition on polish illustration for children, I knew that we will be one of the firsts guests there. At last somebody had a thought to gather best illustrators in one place and – what is the most important – invite kids. During the exhibitions TU CZY TAM? you can not only see illustrations and books by, among others, Marta Ignerska (wonderful “Wszystko gra!”), Agata Królak (series about Bears of our favourite, the best publishing house in the world “Dwie Siostry”), Dawid Ryski (“Alfabet“) or Emilia Dziubak (beautiful “Proszę mnie przytulić”, “Uśmiech dla żabki”, “Rok w lesie”), but you can also do things that as a rule, you are not allowed to do in a museum: touch things, write on the walls, peek into nooks, clatter, knock or even scream! Simply, a pure joy of exploring the world.
When Marianka crossed the doorstep of Zachęta, she basically right away understood rules prevailing at the exhibition. It wasn’t necessary to explain anything to her. She just entered this excellent world designed by curators (Magda Kłos-Podsiadło from Wydawnictwo Wytwórnia and Ewa Solarz – the one that made the wonderful “D.E.S.I.G.N” and “Ilustrowany elementarz dizajnu”). She was writing on the walls, arranging magnet bugs, she was walking into exhibits, and to her surprise, she was recognizing characters from her books and picking books she wanted to read.
And we high-fived each other when she wasn’t looking. Our reading out loud on a daily basis since she was born, browsing for a hundredth time through benekedekmilczekwilczek, gdzie jest wielbłąd? a gdzie żyrafa? are actually brings effects. Mańka has more books than toys, she likes to look through them and in her own way describe what she sees. And what is most beautiful, she started to bring her books to Jasiek, loudly telling him about pictures. We are bursting with pride, a little.
We strongly recommend a visit in Zachęta and exhibition “Tu czy tam?. Contemporary polish illustration for kids”. It’s not only joy for kids and often their first contact with art, but incredible fun for parents as well. These books and posters are just nice. The one’s you want to have on your wall and on your shelf.
The exhibition is open until 8th of May 2016. It’s accompanied by a rich program of workshops (not only for kids).