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The Warsaw Voice » Society » October 29, 2008
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Polish Ceramics in the Fjords
October 29, 2008   
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Dorota Cychowska is a 34-year-old Polish ceramic artist who lives in Norway. This year the Format gallery in the center of Oslo has opened an exhibition of her work entitled Between You and Me. Janina Januszewska-Skreiberg caught up with the artist.

Why did you choose Norway?
A year and a half ago, I met a wonderful Norwegian man, Martin [Martin Borg, composer and jazz guitarist, frontman for the Norwegian trio Legopulver]. When the idea of staying together in Norway for longer emerged, I decided to rise to the challenge and try to find my way in a new reality, artistically as well.

What was it like in the beginning? How did your stay in Norway influence your work?
From the moment of my arrival in July last year, I slowly began to familiarize myself with the art scene in Oslo. I rented an atelier in Grunerløkka, the artists' quarter in Oslo, and started to make ceramics straight away. I also visited the National Academy of the Arts in Oslo (KHiO), where I met one of the lecturers, Prof. Ole Lislerud. In his ateliers in Oslo, Milan and Beijing, he creates enormous ceramic pieces that are mainly designed for architectural use. He also deals with art theory.

His work and his innovative approach to ceramics greatly inspired me. Lislerud was the initiator and organizer of the Concept and Material International Ceramics Symposium in Oslo in 2003, where two opposite views of ceramics were confronted: art and craft. The questions asked by Lislerud in the context of modern ceramics-namely, how can tradition be used as a source of inspiration and how can ceramics advance to the level of a fully recognized discipline within contemporary art-turned out to be valid and important for my own work as well. Due to our encounter, I was invited to spend the first semester of 2007/2008 at the KHiO. This was the first encouraging sign in my new reality.

And how do you feel now in the "home of the fjords"?
Everything I have encountered here has been a great source of inspiration for me. Norway is an extraordinarily beautiful country. The distance that exists here between people and places, so characteristic of this country yet so often decried, is very inspiring for me. It opens up a new dimension for me, a new creative space, that I think I was subconsciously seeking.

What pushed you to take up ceramics in the first place?
The choice of my profession was partly due to the fact that I come from Bolesławiec in Lower Silesia, in the southwest of Poland, where ceramics have played an important role for centuries. I think that growing up within this context, as well as a certain personal inclination and chance, all combined to make me take up ceramics.

What are your plans for the future? Will you remain in Norway or rather come back to Poland?
It's hard for me to know for sure at the moment, but I have a feeling it would be good to stay here for longer. At the end of last year, I was offered to stay on for another year at the KHiO as a research artist and to teach some first-year ceramics classes. This gives me the opportunity to continue my artistic and academic work, as well as being the perfect opportunity for my doctorate, which I am preparing for at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław, in the southwest of Poland.

Dorota Cychowska has been a lecturer in ceramic art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wrocław for the past six years. She has taken part in numerous international exhibitions and symposia in Poland, Latvia, Slovakia, France, Hungary, and Germany. Last year she was one of the finalists at the Triennale 07 keramikk-glass event in Oslo. That same year she received a grant from the authorities of Poland's Lower Silesia province, and this year from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage's Młoda Polska fund for young artists. She is currently on a research fellowship at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts in Norway.
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