walkie-talkie vol. 1 | Oxford with Kinga Lubowiecka

New year, new beginnings, new ideas, so… I have something special for you! I’d like to get started with a new series on the blog, a one called walkie-talkie. Why so? Because it will be a record of my conversations with people who accompany me while I travel or visit museums. We walk, and we talk. The first person I’m going to introduce to you is Kinga Lubowiecka, artist, photographer, and art curator based in Oxford, UK. Kinga graduated from The Ruskin School of Art in Oxford. Shortly after graduation, she decided to spend some time in her hometown of Krakow (Poland) and she started off with her own independent art gallery called theGreenroom.

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Kinga Lubowiecka, an artist, photographer, and art curator based in Oxford, UK.

 

When I met Kinga, I was still a student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, dreaming of becoming an art curator. After coming to the opening of the first exhibition she curated at theGreenroom gallery, we got in touch and decided to get to know each other over a cup of coffee. This meeting eventually evolved not only into a curatorial collaboration — we organised together at least four exhibitions — but also into friendship. When Kinga paid a visit to Barcelona, we saw Vivian Maier’s exhibition together. When I went for a short trip to London last November, Kinga hosted me in Oxford where she lives and works. That’s when, during a nice stroll around the city equipped with a cup of coffee and a camera, we had a chance to talk a bit about museums and travelling.

 

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Museum Assistant portrayed by Kinga Lubowiecka

 

Museum Assistant: Oxford is a place where you’ve been living most of your life. How did your perception of this city change since the very first day you arrived there?
Kinga Lubowiecka: I would say that my perception of the city hasn’t changed as such, rather that my understanding of its history and culture has grown as I’ve gotten older. The opportunity to live and study within the context of the University has also allowed me to discover the cities hidden passages and libraries, invisible to the passer-by. 

MA: When you visit other cities, what catches your attention in the first place? Is it colour? Is it architecture? Is it people?
KL: I’ve always been fascinated by structures and forms, whether they be architectural or artistic. A Modernist painting by Piet Mondrian, for example, intrigues me as much as a well-designed building by Walter Gropius.  I would, therefore, say that architecture forms within the local context strike me first. Furthermore, I’m a particular fan of cities located within an undulating landscape, as interesting views can be found from numerous vantage points – Bristol is one such example. 
MA: You used to work in a museum yourself. Moreover, you organised several exhibitions in your own gallery, theGreenroom in Krakow. Has this experience affected the way you visit museums and exhibitions now? 
KL: I visit museums to experience and view the artwork on show, but more significantly to discover the curators’ decision-making process. For me, curation is like building a large 3-Dimensional jigsaw puzzle; some pieces fit together perfectly; others nearly do, but one knows there is a better piece out there; finally some pieces do not fit altogether. 
 
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fot. Kinga Lubowiecka
MA: How would you describe your habits of a museum visitor? Do you follow an exhibition step by step, or rather walk through the rooms to catch its general idea, only to return and focus on what attracts you most? 
KL: I like to walk through a museum and stop when I find a piece that captures my attention. I’m most drawn to small-scale works, a simple drawing, or a small oil painting. I find that these works usually have an interesting story to tell – they don’t shout at the viewer, but instead allow him/her to discover them on their own terms. One of my favourite pieces in the Ashmolean Museum is a painting by Wilhelm Bendz (1804 – 1832) entitled The Church of Ramsau, Austria. It depicts a small Church within the Austrian landscape. I discovered it on a wet Sunday while wondering around the museum. It’s certainly not the easiest of rooms to find, but worth the search. 
MA: How do you capture what’s important for you while visiting a particular museum, or discovering a city? Do you take a lot of photos? Or maybe you prefer to write and doodle?
KL: I always have a pen and paper to hand!
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