Off the wall: new mega mural celebrates Poland’s road to freedom
The first in a series of nine murals illustrating Poland’s “road to freedom” has debuted in Poznań, and in the process become the city’s tallest outdoor artwork – and possibly the country’s.
Forty-eight metres in height, the project depicts the 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard strike, a keynote moment that was sparked by the dismissal of crane operator Anna Walentynowicz. Ultimately, the protest scored an early triumph against the Communist system and led to the creation of the Solidarity movement.
Located in the Wichrowe Wzgórze housing estate in Poznań’s Winogrady district, it will eventually be joined by eight other works depicting a range of people, events and circumstances associated with the country’s battle against Communism.
Among these will be an XL mural depicting a typical shop queue showing the privations of the era, one paying tribute to those that died during the 1981 pacification of Katowice’s Wujek Coal Mine and another dedicated to the 1989 Autumn of Nations that resulted in the disintegration of the Iron Curtain.
Designed by the Murall studio, and commissioned by the Wielkopolska branch of Solidarity, it is hoped that the outdoor gallery will become not just a tourist attraction but also a calling card for the area.
“These murals aren’t just a treat for tourists,” said Jarosław Lange, the head of Solidarity in Wielkopolska, “but also a good example to other cities of the good things that can be achieved based on contact with local residents, regardless of their political views.”
Taking nearly two weeks to paint, and executed by a team of eleven artists, the size of the first mural is such that it is visible from neighbouring areas such as Zawady, Centrum and even Rataje beyond.
With the murals set to occupy the facades of two distinct clusters of buildings, the decision was taken to segregate them according to different time spans.
“The apartment blocks stand in two groups so we divided the project into two periods,” says Dominik Dziedzin of Murall. “The first one will feature murals focused on moments leading up to the creation of Solidarity while the other will show images relating to events right up until the free elections.”
Of the other moments in time that will be presented shall be the 1989 Round Table talks and the introduction of Marial Law. However, plans for a mural depicting Lech Wałęsa appear to have been shelved after the idea was hesitantly met by a minority of locals. Instead, an alternative is now being sought.
Specifically designed so as to be consistent with the elevation of the tower blocks and to naturally slot into the surrounding landscape, the next murals will take longer to realize – possibly even two years – due to ongoing work to safely reinsulate the other apartments. Thereafter, it’s hoped that the project will finally be completed.