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Polish Film Festival Exhibition

10 March – 15 May 2010


Exeter Central Library
Boston Tea Party Café
and Bill Douglas Centre
Polish Film Festival in Exeter – Kinoteka on Tour 2010
in association with
Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture,
Poster Museum in Wilanów, Poster Gallery in Warsaw and Museum of Cienematography
The Polish Film Festival Exhibition
Polish School of Poster Design
and artefacts from the University’s Bill Douglas Centre.
This joint collaboration of the Festival Team/Exeter Polish Culture Society, the Bill Douglas Centre for the History of the Cinema, Exeter Central Library, Poster Gallery in Warsaw, Museum of Cinematography in Łódź and Poster Museum in Wilanów, features artefacts and ephemera about the history of Polish Cinema, selected from the holdings of The Bill Douglas Centre, a museum and research centre at the University of Exeter, as well as a set of unique posters representative of the different styles and periods of the “Polish School of Poster Design”.


As Poland emerged from the ruins of the Second Word War, a unique ‘Polish School’ of movie poster design emerged. This is often romanticised
as a product of anti-communist resistance. However, another interpretation of the phenomenon is that artists were free from the commercial stranglehold and pressure of mass culture, and so were able to produce brilliant works over an extended period of time. The fact that many of the most accomplished works of the school were political and pro-socialist seems to confirm this - particularly when we consider that the idea of art
as an expression of political circumstance is a classical communist one.
Like any artistic movement, it had its own dynamic, with peaks and troughs of achievement.

The pioneers of the movement - Henryk Tomaszewski, Tadeusz Trepkowski and Eryk Lipiński - first became known in forties. The three were commissioned by a state distribution company Film Polski in 1946 to design film posters, and were among the first to change a typical poster comprising images of movie stars to a graphic interpretation of the movie itself.
The dawn of social realism in 1948 brought restrictions in some styles, but more and more artists were nevertheless becoming associated
with ‘the School’. These included Wojciech Fangor, Jan Lenica, Waldemar Świerzy, Franciszek Starowieyski to mention but a few. After Stalin’s death
in 1953, many restrictions were lifted, and designers once again could express their ideas more freely.
The period from the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties were perhaps the School’s golden decade, with a range of new styles introduced. Many artists, among them Maria Ihnatowicz, Maciej Rudnicki, Mieczysław Wasilewski, begain to developed their own unique styles.
In later years, particularly from the mid-seventies to the mid eighties, the school began to lose momentum, as if exhausted after the prolific output
of the golden era. Fewer artists maintained distinct styles, and most seemed uninspired, and often politicised. Even so, there were still some bright stars: works by Stasys Eidrigevicius and Wiesław Walkuski are worth a closer look.

It is a Polish paradox that a movement that thrived and found unique forms of expression amid censorship and state restrictions imposed by the state, when those limitations became marginalized and after the state lost its monopoly control over the distribution of movies after 1989, almost died out. Today, old movie posters can be found and seen in galleries and museums. New ones are still being created, but in limited editions that are largely destined for galleries and collectors.

Luckily, the traditions of a courageous and innovative poster design tradition survive in opera posters, and these can be still admired by passers-by
on the streets of Polish cities.

The exhibition will be hosted by three venues:
Exeter Central Library, Boston Tea Party and Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture.

Although we will be able to display only about 25 posters, thanks to cooperation with Poster Museum in Wilanów, we have arranged for digital presentation of the most classic and valuable posters of the Polish School of Poster Design to be displayed on the PC at the Exeter Central Library Foyer.

Some exhibits will be available for sale after the exhibition.

If you are interested in the Polish cinema we encourage you to visit the following websites:

100 Years of Polish Cinema Exhibition Webpage:

Polish Film - internet database of Polish film (Polish only):

If you are interested in poster design we encourage you to visit the following websites:

Poster Museum in Wilanów -

Polish Poster Gallery in Warsaw -

Two Stories
Polish Exhibition


County Council in Newton Abbot
Exeter Phoenix
Two Stories Exhibition

The lost history of Poland, Britain and Soviet Russia
by Susan Young ARPS, photographer and writer
This photographic exhibition describes the Soviet invasion of Eastern Poland during World War 2 and how this led to the Polish settlements in the UK. A section using archive photographs, describes life in a re-settlement camp and another brings it up to date with the stories of several migrants to the UK. A booklet will be available giving background information.

The photographs were taken in the last resettlement camp in the UK (at Ilford Park in Newton Abbot, Devon - recently demolished) and illustrate the events in a symbolic manner. Very little is known in the UK about this period in history, as the British government at the time suppressed the facts to avoid offending Soviet Russia. As a result, the suffering of those from Eastern Poland has never been given the acknowledgement it deserves.

The exhibition is being launched from County Hall on 13 April 2010 and will be displayed in the Exeter Phoenix Centre from Tuesday 22 June to Sunday 18 July 2010.
A mobile version will be displayed in St Sidwell's Community Centre, Exeter at the same time. The exhibition will then tour other venues in Devon - dates and places to be confirmed.

Funding for the exhibition has come from UNLtd Millenium Awards Trust. UnLtd - the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs - was set up to support and develop the role of social entrepreneurs as a force for positive change in the United Kingdom.

The photographer and exhibition designer is Susan Young ARPS, a Devon-based photographer and writer. Her book 'The Ultimate Defiance', a novel based on true events, tells of the experiences of a family from Eastern Poland during this period, and should be available at the same time.