• Ławka Góreckiego (Górecki’s Bench)

Now with added photos!  Two weeks ago, Anna Górecka and her husband took me to see the Górecki Bench outside his old primary school in Rydułtowy (now the Public Library).  The bench invites one to sit, so I duly did.  It was oddly touching, given that it is just a sculpture.  But I’d much rather have been sitting next to the man himself. Happy 81st, Henryk!

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I wrote about Henryk’s bench when it was unveiled three years ago.  Górecki’s figure is slightly less than life-size.

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The likeness is variable but, as Anna Górecka pointed out, it is best when viewed from his left side.

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It is a pity that the sculptor, like so many visual artists, thought that it would suffice just to throw a few random notes onto the pages of the score that Henryk is reading.  What an opportunity missed.  A few fragments of Elementi (1962) would have been just the thing.

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Still, the sculpture has become quite a draw and appreciated by the local community.  When it was removed a year ago for retouching, the police were inundated with calls from the public saying that it had been stolen.

Early in the day we had driven up and down a street named in Górecki’s honour.  It is more like a boulevard and at two kilometres surely the longest thoroughfare named after a Polish composer.  It is part of Rybnik’s ring road, completed in 2011, and runs south from Rondo Elektrowni to Rondo Solidarności.  He’d have appreciated that.

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• and a Bench for Tuwim too

It was only as I was researching my preceding post – on Henryk Górecki and his attachment to Julian Tuwim’s poem Song of Joy and Rhythm – that I came across what looks like a remarkable parallel between memorials to these two giants of 20th-century Polish culture.

In another post twelve days ago – A Conversation with Henryk Górecki – I reported on a whimsical yet thoughtful monument to him that had been unveiled on 10 September in Rydułtowy, the town in Silesia where he lived from the age of 2 until he was 22.  As you’ll see or have seen, Górecki is sitting on the right-hand end of a bench, reading a musical score.

Well, blow me down, Tuwim too has been honoured with a bench, in his home town, Łódź, in central Poland.  This is the work of Wojciech Gryniewicz and was unveiled in 1999.  Like Górecki, Tuwim is seated on the right-hand end of a bench that in his case is also sculpted.  The key difference here is the posture.  Tuwim is looking out, not down, possibly above and beyond the eyeline of any companion.  Maybe he’s ‘lying in wait for God’ (Czyhanie na Bogu, the title of the collection that included Song of Joy and Rhythm).

I must say that I’m rather taken by the modest, down-to-earth approach of these sculpture-installations.  Does anyone know of other examples in addition to Maggi Hambling’s A Conversation with Oscar Wilde in London?

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