"Amber. Polish Treasure" - a report from the exhibition at the ISEZ PAN Natural History Museum in Krakow
From December 14, 2022 until March 10, 2023 In the Natural History Museum of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow, an exhibition entitled "Amber. Polish Treasure" is available to visitors. This exhibition presents a wide range of works using amber in decorative objects and jewellery. It is an opportunity to get to know the works involved in the promotion of the City of Gdańsk as the world capital of amber. We will find there unusual projects of our Polish artists working with amber, both traditional and classic, as well as those that fit into completely modern visual forms. We therefore turn around 19th-century pipes, works referring to art deco art, and modern projects by Mariusz Gliwiński during the "Fashion for Amber" exhibition. In addition, the exhibition includes beautiful specimens of natural lumps and inclusions owned by the ISEZ PAN Natural History Museum in Krakow.
Amber, as a natural treasure of Poland, has been receiving the attention it deserves for years, not only in the form of the annual Amberif Fair, but also through numerous exhibitions and presentations of history, art and modern visions of our Polish "gold". During a visit to the Natural History Museum at ul. st. Sebastian in Krakow, we can see numerous pieces of jewelry by many well-known and respected artists associated with amber, but also look at the history of inclusions and themselves - inclusions locked in time ... in amber.
And in terms of time...
At the exhibition, we can see various inclusions at a special stand and learn the secrets of their origin. How did they end up in amber? what are they? What do they look like after 40 million years spent in fossilized resin?
This exhibition is also a great opportunity to take a look at unusual lumps of amber. We can see there a block with a pearly reflection in the form of a concentration of air bubbles (a gift from Jacek Serafin), and extremely ingenious works of art, such as a carton with amber eggs or glasses with amber instead of glass - the view from them would probably be truly sunny, taking into account the ancient reference to understanding amber as a sun stone. In addition, on the walls surrounding the exhibition, we will read interesting stories about amber mining, Gdańsk amber craftsmen and we will see extraordinary works by Lucjan Myrta - an unquestionable authority in the world of amber art and fascination with this unique raw material (including the famous "Treasury").
An important role here is played by the City of Gdańsk, which is the capital of amber, not only in Poland, but also in the world. The promotion of the city reaches further than Europe, and all this, among others. thanks to artists such as Mariusz Gliwiński, whose designs and works have already been discovered by amber lovers from almost all over the world. Perhaps this is not such common information, but it turns out that his jewelry is worn by, for example, Kylie Minoque or Rod Steward. In this exhibition you can admire Gliwiński's jewelry inspired by fashion, architecture or even travels - in each element we will find something from the artist's memories and fascination. As we learn from the press release of the curators of the exhibition - Mr. Robert Pytlos and prof. Sławomir Fijałkowski from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk:
Mariusz Gliwiński was the first Polish designer to present his works in the prestigious Design Center section at the JCK Las Vegas diamond fair and at Design Week in Beijing. Proof of recognition for the artist is also his long-term participation in the government program "Design in Poland", promoting Polish design abroad. The artist constantly collaborates with fashion designers. Ambermoda, which belongs to him, is one of the first Polish companies that introduced amber to the world of fashion: the collections were presented on catwalks in China, the USA, Belgium, Germany and Spain.
You can also see the works of members of the Association of Goldsmithing Artists shown in the summer in Międzyzdroje during the Festival of Stars. It is in this part that we can look at replicas of the famous gifts given to the princely couple from Great Britain - William and Kate (a set of jewelry and cufflinks by Adam Pstrągowski S&A Jewelery Design) and a unique milk amber bracelet by Leszek Górski for Michelle Obama.
As we read further on the part of the exhibition devoted to what is yet to come in the subject of amber fashion:
The "Trend Book 2022" exhibition, in turn, shows what will be fashionable in the near future. The aim of the project is to implement current stylistic trends in jewelry design. Trend Book is twelve years of uninterrupted analysis, resulting in a series of publications and exhibitions. It is also a comprehensive documentation of technological, stylistic and marketing changes in the amber industry, i.e. an important distinguishing feature not only of Gdańsk's material culture.
In addition to the extraordinary works of the Ministry of Economy - Mariusz Gliwiński, we can also admire works by, among others, Tomasz Stangrecki, reminiscent of bas-reliefs with references to antiquity. On the artist's website we read :
The fruit of my long-term search is a unique collection of original objects, micro-sculptures, three-dimensional bas-relief forms - unique, unrepeatable and fascinating - with motifs referring to archetypes and anthropological symbols from the history of culture.
The exhibition is full of beautiful pieces of jewelry enriched with precious stones and natural materials, which of course is connected with the idea of the naturalness of Baltic amber itself. The crown (Wojciech Rygało "Crown of Kings") and the scepter (Dorota Cenecka) visible in the photo below are one of the numerous exhibits that delight the eye with their ingenuity, referring as much to our approach to amber - as to our timeless treasure.
A very interesting element of the exhibition, right next to the historical context, is a collection of jewelry that is digital prototypes made in virtual reality. The authors here are, among others: Maria Głowienka, Martyna Padoł, Patryk Laskowski, Yana Khramohina, Kuba Neumann, Maja Szoszyńska, Nikodem Mruczkowski. This is a very interesting example of an unconventional look at the art of creating jewelry, perhaps starting another and new perspective in this field.
There we will also find elements of jewelry from the "Tor" collection by Tomasz Kargul, who creates in the zero waste ideology. It is minimalist, but extremely unique jewelry, truly sought after in recent years by customers from Poland and the world. We meet the jewelry of the one-of-a-kind Jan Pomianowski, inspired by royal jewels (he is the author of, among others, a set of jewelry made for the Norwegian queen Sonja). We will also see jewelry by Paulina Binek - an artist who uses both various and wonderful combinations of amber with ores and natural materials, often being a feast for art connoisseurs. Apart from them, there are also projects by authors such as Jan Lekszycki, Dorota Cenecka, Mariusz Tymiński, Marek Huculak, Ryszda Krzesimowska, Dariusz Zarański, Agata Bieńkowska, Jolanta and Andrzej Kupniewski.
It is no wonder that Gdańsk found itself in Kraków for a while, as both cities, in love with amber, willingly coexist in promoting this treasure on a global scale. Gdańsk has become an international leader in the amber industry, and jewelery signed with the "made in Poland" mark is a sign of the highest quality product.
The press release also states that:
The exhibition shows that the most important factor that allowed the creators of amber jewelery to achieve a spectacular international success was design.
This makes Gdańsk a global symbol associated with Baltic amber, promoted by the recognizable and full of attractions Amberif Amber Fair and the Amber Museum in Gdańsk itself, providing a real feast for the eyes. This is accompanied by a fully interesting and admirable exhibition “Amber. Polish Treasure”, curated by: Mr. Robert Pytlos and prof. Sławomir Fijałkowski from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, and the co-curators are Ludmiła Skulbaszewska from the Amber Museum in Gdańsk and Dorota Cenecka from STFZ.
(Own photos taken with the consent of the curators of the exhibition)
 https://stangrecki.com.pl/ [access: 3.0.2023]
Author: Anna Ciecko