I was delivering one of my paintings to a collector of my art recently. She kindly invited me into her home where I was admiring all the artwork on her walls.
One painting in particular, pictured below, caught my eye, a big colourful one depicting people at a wedding reception.
The style felt familiar, and when I saw the signature everything became clear. The painter, like me, was Polish. We took it off the wall and looked at the back - it was covered with children’s signatures and at the bottom was the title: “Jasiek się żeni” or “Johnny is getting married”.
The painting was dated 2004 and was created by Wieslawa Szymoniak, a painter in the naïve style, with the help of a class of primary school children. I tried the phone number that was written on the back, but it didn’t exist anymore. I later found out that the artist had passed away in 2015.
The owner, who had spotted and bought the painting at a fundraising event in Cork parish hall, told me how much the painting meant to her:
“A stork is flying, holding a baby above the wedding couple in their carriage. When we held our wedding reception in our newly renovated home I was 7 months pregnant, so the painting reminds me of that happy day. Our daughter loves the painting also, and when she was small we would chat about what was happening in it, and count the people and animals.”
No one knows how the painting found its way to Cork. I wish I could tell Wieslawa Szymoniak how far her art had travelled, and that it brings such joy to its current owner. But the main thing here is that art matters and it always will.