On Thursday, 18th October, the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London hosted a press conference, which inaugurated its year of commemorations of the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining its independence.
During the conference, Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the United Kingdom Arkady Rzegocki together with Deputy Director of the Polish Cultural Institute in London Marta de Zuniga presented events and projects commemorating the anniversary, which will take place in the United Kingdom in 2018 – under the name #PL100.
Among the planned events – showcasing Polish history and cultural heritage, especially of the last century – are exhibitions, film showcases, concerts, workshops, competitions, social media campaigns as well as conferences.
The second edition of Polish Heritage Day was also announced, with independence being this year’s theme.
And a new initiative of enriching stocks of British libraries with Polish literature written in English saw its launch. The aim of “Polska Półka” (“Polish Shelf”) is to spread the knowledge about Poland in the United Kingdom.
Ambassador Arkady Rzegocki commented on the commemorations, saying: “I am very happy that we will be celebrating in Great Britain 100 years of Polish independence through presenting Poland’s history and its rich cultural heritage.
“The year 2018 is also another opportunity to promote knowledge about the heritage of the past generations and highlight the positive contribution made by Poles to the cultural, economic and social life in Great Britain during the second edition of Polish Heritage Day. I encourage you to take pride in our history and culture, and share the knowledge about Poland with our British friends.”
The Ambassador also encouraged Polish people to actively write about topics concerning history of the Polish diaspora in the United Kingdom through editing and completing websites dedicated to Polish history, such as Wikipedia, and appealed to the British partners to put historical information on the websites of towns and cities, institutions and tourist organisations.
Ending the conference, the Ambassador encouraged Polish people to visit the website of the Polish Cultural Institute in London, where an up-to-date calendar of events commemorating the centenary of Poland’s independence can be found, and to send own suggested events to the email address on the #PL100 page (polishculture.org.uk/events.html).
Projects and events in the United Kingdom commemorating the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining independence
Embassy of the Republic of Poland in London
Polish Heritage Day
Following the success of last year’s Polish Heritage Day (PHD), which consisted of around 50 initiatives and which attracted 25,000 participants, the Embassy is launching the second edition of the event, which will take place on the weekend of 5th-6th May. PHD aims to promote the heritage of past generations and the positive contribution made by Poles to the cultural, economic and social life in the United Kingdom. The main theme of this year’s event is 100 years of independence. The Embassy encourages Polish organisations, Saturday schools and Roman Catholic parishes in the United Kingdom to focus the celebrations on the centenary of independence. This year, similar to last year, the organisers of Polish Heritage Day can count on material support, as well as help in promoting their events in the media and contacting the local authorities. Applications for funding and promotional material should be sent to Polish Consulates in the United Kingdom by 10th May. More information can be found on the Embassy website soon.
#Polka100 (Polish woman in the UK)
A three-part campaign, #Polka100 will commemorate the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in Poland:
1) The Embassy would like to honour and celebrate remarkable Polish women, who inspire the Polish community in the United Kingdom every day. As such, a competition has been launched for Polish women who are professionally active, have inspiring jobs and contribute to creating a positive image of Poland in the United Kingdom. Those interested should complete the online form. The Embassy will pick a number of stories, whose authors will be interviewed and photographed, which then will be published on our social media channels on International Women’s Day on 8th March. Apply by 8th February.
2) An internet poll for the most popular Polish woman in the United Kingdom (in history) during Polish Heritage Day. The vote will decide on the most inspiring Polish woman who has migrated.
3) October conference “Women of success”, which will consist of a panel of Polish women who have achieved success in their careers in the United Kingdom.
Exhibition “Kobiety Niepodległości” (“Women of Independence”)
The exhibition at Europe House (Representation of the European Commission in the UK) in October will tell the story of remarkable Polish women, including actresses, scientists and activists who supported the fight for Poland’s independence. The display will explore such iconic figures as Maria Skłodowska-Curie and Irena Sendler and will focus on the historical acpects of the role of women in the fight for independence and on different aspects of patriotic actions and work of women for the good of the country.
Internet campaign #PAF100
The social media campaign #PAF100 will tell the story of the Polish Air Force (PAF) in episodes to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first military flight of a Polish aircraft in 1918 made by Polish pilots belonging to the then newly-created Polish Air Force flight squadron. This campaign will run alongside the RAF Museum’s centenary exhibition, where a life-size cut-out of Col Franciszek Kornicki, the last Second World War Polish squadron commander, will stand beside the iconic Spitfire VB BL614. Last year, Col Kornicki won the Museum’s and The Daily Telegraph’s ‘People’s Spitfire Pilot’ poll. The campaign will be an excellent opportunity to emphasise the role that Polish pilots played in the Battle of Britain during the Second World War. The accomplishments of the Polish pilots in Britain will be a great example of their skills and long traditions which Poland has in this field.
“Polska Półka” (“Polish Shelf”)
An initiative of enriching stocks of British libraries with Polish literature written in English. Among the gifts will be books about Polish history. The aim of Polska Półka is to spread the knowledge about Poland in the United Kingdom. The campaign will go on until 2019.
A booklet about the history of the Polish Embassy, Polish diplomatic missions in the UK as well as Polish-British relations, which date back to the 11th century, will be published and handed out during the most important visits as well as events at the Embassy. The publication has been put together in collaboration with The Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum in London to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Polish Embassy being located at 47 Portland Place and the 250th anniversary of the permanent Polish diplomatic presence in the United Kingdom.
Polish Cultural Institute in London
16th Polish Film Festival KINOTEKA
This year’s KINOTEKA Polish Film Festival in London will take place on 7th-29th March. The festival will revolve around celebrating hundred years of Polish independence by introducing to the British audience historical and most vital figures of that period, including Ignacy Jan Paderewski, a composer, pianist and statesman. New Polish contemporary cinema releases will be accompanied by digitally restored silent films with live music performances and other attractions, including Yiddish cinema, 1920s’ style dancing and screen talks. The 16th KINOTEKA partners up with London’s most prestigious cultural institutions, such as the British Film Institute, Regent Street Cinema, Barbican Centre and JW3, which are the hosts of the festival’s events.
Faithful Journey – Mass for Poland by Roxanna Panufnik
The composer Roxanna Panufnik has devoted last couple of years to the 2018 independence celebratory piece Faithful Journey – Mass for Poland. The world premiere of the piece will take place in Katowice, performed by the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) on 9th November. It will be followed by a world tour, which begins with a concert in the United Kingdom. The concert is a tribute to the best Polish poets who have created works during the last 100 years. Panufnik hand-picked the poems and composed the music to the poetry of Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska, Zbigniew Herbert and Czesław Miłosz to name but a few, putting a great emphasis on folk, Christian traditions and cultural heritage. The concert will be performed in Polish, English and Latin, with an accompanying choir. There will be many other events, such as children’s workshops about Polish history based on the selected poetry.
Concert of music of Fryderyk Chopin and Ignacy Jan Paderewski at London Guildhall
The prestigious London Guildhall joins the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Polish independence in 2018. On this occasion, a special concert will take place, bringing back to the stage the masters of Polish classical music, Fryderyk Chopin and Ignacy Jan Paderewski. The performing artists include Krzysztof Książek, a talented pianist preparing for the 2020 International Chopin Competition, who has won awards at the Chopin Competition and the American Paderewski Piano Competition in Los Angeles. In the final part of the concert, the artist will perform the Paderewski music four-handed with his wife Agnieszka Zahaczewska-Książek. The event producers are Polish Cultural Institute in London and The Chopin Society in London.
Concert of music of Paweł Łukaszewski at Holy Week Festival in St John’s Smith Square, London
Holy Week Festival is a festival of sacred music taking place in the heart of London. As well as an opportunity to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining independence, this year will present an opportunity to celebrate 50th birthday of Polish composer Paweł Łukaszewski. During this prestigious festival in St John’s Smith Square the Tenebrae Choir will perform Łukaszewski’s Tenebrae Responsories on 27th-28th March. Both of the free concerts will promote Polish history, cultural heritage and Christian traditions. A broadcast is planned for one of the concerts on BBC Three. Event partners are Polish Cultural Institute in London and Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
From Copernicus to the Jagiellonians – a feast inspired by the traditions of Polish cuisine
During the reign of the Jagiellonian dynasty some of the most important political and social changes took place in Poland, which determined how the future Polish state would look. Nicolaus Copernicus and the Jagiellonians will help promote knowledge about history of Poland from its glory days through the feast inspired by those times, with rare historical dishes and artistic setting in the legendary place that is Ognisko Polskie (The Polish Hearth Club) on Exhibition Road.
Created in 1707, the Lenten Lamentations is a unique national treasure in Poland. It was a way for Poles to express sorrow during the partitions and wars, as well as being a 'bastion' of beautiful Polish language. At the same time, it is a creation, which touches upon the universals such as reflection on life and eternity. The service will take place on Sunday, 11th March at the church of the Polish Catholic Mission in Reading. As a prelude to the Sunday service, lamentations from the music from various European countries, including France, England, Spain and Germany, will be presented on Saturday, 10th March by Singer Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett and harpsichordist Joanna Boślak-Górniok.