Women of the revolution: Solidarity heroes remembered in series of stunning murals
Thirty years after the fall of communism in Poland in 1989, a new mural in Gdańsk celebrates the “women of freedom” who were part of the peaceful revolution.
In bright colours, it depicts several dozen women – some of whom are household names in Poland and others who are lesser known – who were active in the anti-communist opposition in the 1980s.
They include co-founder of Solidarity Anna Walentynowicz (1929-2010) and opposition figure Gaja Kuroń (1940-1982), who was the first wife of Jacek Kuroń, one of the leaders of the anti-communist movement.
Painted onto pillars beneath the Gdańsk Strzyża station, between central Gdańsk and Sopot, the mural was the idea of the Pomeranian Metropolitan Railway (PKM) and the regional authorities.
“This year we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of free Poland, and the role of women – often marginalised in the pages of history – was particularly important in those days,” said Tomasz Konopacki, PKM’s press spokesman.
“The mural is a symbolic tribute to all the women who fought for a free Poland at that time. It reminds us of the important social but still, unfortunately, underestimated role of women in the historic events that began in Pomerania in August 1980, and then spilled over the whole country,” he added.
The painting was created by artists from RedSheels, a Polish agency that specialising in producing murals. Fittingly for this project, all its employees are women.
The agency was already known for its mural of the popular Polish singer Kora, who died last summer, which was unveiled in Warsaw earlier this year.
The mural is conveniently located near the University of Gdańsk and various schools, in a place where many people will pass it on their daily commute.
“We want the artistic message to be accompanied by an educational one,” said Konopacki of PKM. “Thanks to this location, we are sure that many people will see the mural and for many of them it will be an opportunity to discover this important part of our history.”
The women portrayed on the mural are: Anna Walentynowicz, Alina Pienkowska, Joanna Duda-Gwiazda, Bożena Rybicka-Grzywaczewska, Maryla (Maria) Płońska, Joanna Wojciechowicz, Magdalena Modzelewska, Ewa Ossowska, Grażyna Staniszewska, Henryka Krzywonos, Olga Krzyżanowska, Gaja Kuroń, Ludwika Wujec, Joanna Szczęsna, Anna Kurska, Aniela Steinsberg, Joanna Penson, Ewa Kulik, Barbara Labuda, Jadwiga Staniszkis, Krystyna Starczewska, Anka Kowalska, Zofia Kruszyńska, Ewa Milewicz, Bronisława Milewska, Helena Łuczywo, Danuta Kędzierska-Sadowska, Ewa Kubasiewicz and Elżbieta Goetel.