The afternoon’s entertainment was to get a tram to visit the murals in the Zaspa area of Gdansk, somewhere that I haven’t visited before. It’s a housing estate now, but it was once the site of Gdansk’s airport before it moved to a larger site to the north of the city.
It was about a fifteen minute tram journey and it was the first time that the group has used a tram this weekend, so that was part of the reason for going on this little expedition. I like to surprise and delight the group.
There were tens of murals and we had an on-line guide to them which I nominated Richard to navigate us around from and he did a reasonable job of that. This one dates from 2012 and is by the German artists Klaus Klinger, with the notes reading:
“A model worker of the Age of Consumption wanders through a flowerly meadow pushing a bottomless shopping trolley. The mural deliberately recalls the style of socialist-realist propaganda. Interestingly, the woman in the mural is headed straight for a shopping mall built from a converted hanger where the airport terminal was located until 1974”.
This mural is by Rafał Roskowinski of Poland, entitled ‘Toucans’ and created in 1997. The text reads:
“One of the ten works painted during the festival organised to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of Gdansk. This mural brings the leading theme of the festival – colour – into the concrete-dominated space of the housing estate. Fearing intervention by the local graffiti scene, the artist left the lower part of the wall to Zaspa’s TKA crew. In line with the unwritten code, the “Gdansk” graffiti was saved and still complements the colourful mural.
Much faded since it was first painted by Rafał Roskowinski in 1999, this imagery is of John Paul II and Lech Walesa and it overlooks the park where in 1987 the Pope celebrated Holy Mass. I hadn’t realised this when in Gdansk, but the former Pope’s previously positive reputation in Poland is currently under significant attack amidst more allegations against the Catholic Church, but there’s a defence of him this week at https://catholicherald.co.uk/how-the-stories-circulating-about-st-john-paul-ii-are-baseless-speculation/. I hope that the allegations are baseless, he was an integral figure in the fall of communism and the growth of Solidarity, which is why these two figures are on this mural. As an aside, it’s the last thing that the church needed in Poland, the number of people attending mass in the country at the time of John Paul II was over 55%, it’s now down to 28% and has been falling for several years.
Perhaps the most dramatic of the murals, this one was created by Michał Wegczyn in 2012 and marked the 70th anniversary of the National Armed Forces. I think this is the mural that most impressed me, it’s got a dark side but a reminder of the bravery of the Polish troops is always a positive move in my eyes.
After looking at around one third of the murals, it was time to return into Gdansk on the tram as we were never going to finish seeing them all and Ross looked like he needed a long lie down. I’d recommend that anyone interested in street art of this form makes the expedition out to the outskirts of the city to have a look at these and there are also guided tours conducted by local residents.