POLAND: 50/50

I approached my time in Kujawsko-Pomorskie from the view point of an artist-tourist; partly because of the time scale of each project and also the practicalities of researching the culture of the region from the UK. The results of my research have raised a number of questions that relate to all our regions and the culture to be experienced there. Is it possible to preserve our cultural heritage and avoid the process of homogenisation? Can we avoid the commercialisation of our culture? How will our culture be affected by this process overall? Is this change desirable or is it of little concern given the considerable economic security that tourism can bring? What relevance has yesterdays culture to today’s generation? Should our culture be preserved rigidly or can we allow it to develop and take its own course. What is there room for?

This project uses prominent symbols of culture to be found in Kujawsko-Pomorskie in an attempt to create a visual discussion regarding how the cultures of 2 regions maybe able to flourish side by side. The project is an open ended enquiry that uses different approaches in order to investigate whether this is possible. The project also considers how a region might preserve its culture without immobilising or diluting it, so that what remains is a relevant and vibrant culture that invites us to learn from it.

Installation views and text from the Polish Residency, CoCA Torun, 2009.


50/50 film: New cultural products for Torun - watch the homogenisation process by clicking on the bucket below



50/50 Vodka: Please feel free to drink this art work

A distinct make of Vodka from the region has been mixed with typical brands produced elsewhere in Poland in order to make one homogenised product for the region of Kujawsko-Pomorskie. Have one on me!



50/50 Jam: Please feel free to eat this art work

Plum jam sourced from both Kuyavia and Pomerania have been mixed together to create a uniform product. Is this to your taste?

Collaborators: Krzystof – honey /Mirostawa – plum jam




50/50 Ginger Bread: Please feel free to eat this art work

2 ginger traditional ginger bread recipes have been mixed to create a homogenised biscuit product. The bakers each created a ginger biscuit mixture and together we produced the biscuits for you to try.






50/50 Music: Please feel free to make this work a part of your own personal collection

For this I collaborated with a local musician Rafal Kolacki. I asked him to identify 2 pieces of folk music originating from Kuyavia and Pomerania. Then I asked him to respond to these from a contemporary perspective drawing on his skills as an indigenous citizen/artist/musician in whatever way he felt appropriate and make a new song. I also wanted to respond to this musical history but as a contemporary tourist might, someone without any in depth knowledge of the cultural history of the region. The responses you can hear on the CD are the results of this collaboration. Are you enjoying this?

Collaborators: see below

culture break down

culture breakdown copy




Take a journey in the spirit of cooperation and help determine the future of Toruns skate culture

Collaborators: Bruce Davies / Danka Milewska / Beatrix Milburn-Wood

sk8 build
30x20m copy




The Family Trees of Kujawsko-Pomorskie’. Installation view

Cherry and apple.
The Family Trees of Kujawsko-Pomorskie.

We are accustomed to the family tree being used as a genealogical visual aid. The family tree presents a simple and tangible way of understanding complex research, helping to explain our historical roots. It is a useful tool that demonstrates in an accessible way a visual map of our personal family history and perhaps our combined history as a nation. The Family Tree of Kujawsko-Pomorskie’ became a family tree in another sense too - a central framework from which ideas could be cultivated and harvested. These ideas emerged as metaphors that either underpinned or questioned the main thread of the project. Whether these metaphors provide palatable or practically useful cultural products remains to be seen.

The family trees on show here at CoCA – 1 cherry and 1 apple - have the potential to bear fruit of many varieties that have more than one history and are grown extensively through out the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region. Like all cultures of one place, their development has been informed by one another and as such have their experiences and origins are tightly bound together. On each tree all types of fruit will have the space allowing them to keep their distinctive qualities alive and thriving. This has been achieved by grafting dormant cuttings onto common rootstock trees to be found locally. The fruits that will grow from the grafts on the maturing tree remain separate as a species retaining their individual characteristics and will maintain their autonomy. As the tree grows more and more branches the opportunity to add further varieties will diversify the trees extended community further still. Importantly they will all be reliant on and derive sustenance from the same original rootstock. During the pollination process, provided that there are both male and female the varieties on the family tree, cross fertilisation of the cultures will be possible.

Artificially grafting different varieties to the tree illustrates how our respective cultures, through intervention, are continually in a state of flux and growth that leaves them open to influence interpretation from other quarters. Importantly, it also underlines how more than one culture may co-exist and keep their integrity intact while still working together side by side. In order for this mutually beneficial and diverse relationship to prosper, the balance of the community on the tree needs to be carefully maintained. The wild rootstock of the original tree must be prevented from reverting to a wild mono-cultivar. If the different species are nurtured appropriately - removing pests, cutting out disease and re grafting is also part of this relationship - there is potential for harmonious coexistence.

After the exhibition has ended
Leszek Warmbier at SkĹ‚udzewoa a regional rural arts centre, has agreed in the spirit of cooperation to care for them in the orchard he has planted. The orchard gate that leads to ‘The Family Tree of Kujawsko-Pomorskie’ will always be open to allow everyone to be nourished by it. Please their visit the web site for more information.

DSC00394 copy

family tree of Kujawsko-Pomorsk