The village called Maćkowa Ruda (in translation, the Ore of Maciej) is located on the north-eastern part of Poland, near the Lithuanian border, in lands of majestic and wild beauty that echo the depiction made by the famous Romantic poet Adam Mickiewicz to the area. Mickiewicz, who, in the same vein with Chopin, is considered the typical representative of Polish Romanticism, was born three years after the official demise of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1795), which for some centuries had been a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Today, part of the charm of the Maćkowa Ruda village is provided by its position, in lands filled with forests and marshes, and neighbouring the River Czarna Hańcza. The corresponding municipality of the village is Krasnopol (in translation from old Slavic, the Beautiful Field), which in turn can be located in Podlasie county (e.g. the name Podlasie, in translation, under the forests, may refer to the rich forests populating the area; the birch trees are a charming addition to the landscape). The surrounding area is a popular touristic destination, which boasts a nature reserve as well, The Wigry National Park.
Apart for recreational activities, the region, and the village, specifically, are known for being the residence of the artist Andrzej Strumiłło who established at no. 17 in Maćkowa Ruda a space party dedicated to dwelling, and partly dedicated to artistic and other public events. Indeed, Maćkowa Ruda no. 17 is a countryside manor but also the artist`s studio, and, generally, a meeting place where people interested in the art of Strumiłło but also in the history and traditions of this borderland can connect.
Andrzej Strumiłło, a multilateral artist that specialized as painter, graphician, sculptor, writer, poet, photographer, was born in October 1927 in Vilnius, Lithuania, therefore not very far from the current place of his residence. He attended graduate and postgraduate schools of art in Łódź and Kraków, and later became professor of fine arts at some of these institutions. Author of almost 100 individual exhibitions, graphician of almost 150 books, Strumiłło was equally active inside and outside Poland. In Poland, among others, he projected in 1956 the pavilion of the Chamber of Commerce, and, outside the country, he was named in 1982 the head of the graphic bureau of the UNO secretarial office in New York; in addition, Strumiłło represented Poland in the Biennale of Venice and of Sao Paulo. Starting 1954 when he visited China, Strumiłło has traveled widely in Asia and in the Far East and, as result, he amassed an impressive quantity of objects, drawings, and photographs. As a matter of fact, in this quality, he contributed to the collections of the Ethnographic Museum in Kraków, and to the one of the Asia, Pacific regions located in Warsaw.
In 1984, Strumiłło bought the house on the River Czarna Hańcza in Maćkowa Ruda from the inheritor of an old local agrarian family. He maintained elements of the original architecture, and rebuilt it in the style of the countryside manors of the area. The house became a host for the artist`s passions as well, Arabian horses, and objects of art of Asia and Far East representing deities and horses. In Maćkowa Ruda, given his prestige and a lifetime experience, Strumiłło established a familiar space, a cult place, an artistic community. In the Podlasie county, the year 2017 was dedicated to Andrzej Strumiłło, and, as part of the related events, a photo album called Dom (Home) was published earlier this year; in Dom, the manor and the region are presented (e.g. Strumiłło is an active promoter of the customs and traditions of the area, as well as of its natural life).
Yet, above all these, Maćkowa Ruda has become a symbol of the borderlands, of the crossways of empires and cultures. Reiterating via the architecture and the interior design the old ways of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the artist and his manor represent a re-enactment of a countryside style of living in which the political and cultural affairs of the state were traced from the periphery. The gentry culture, many times seen as narrow, and base has been amply criticized; in addition, the kresy, as the borderlands are called in the Polish realm, represented the bastion of radical nationalism as the country elite saw itself the defender of the national values in front of the foreign neighbouring cultures. At the same time, the kresy culture helped towards the strengthening of the local lifestyles, and it negotiated its worldview with the capital, and, in general, with the urban world. Finally, up to WWII, periphery is the one that gave to the centre the most interesting personalities in both intellectual and political field.
The photos of Maćkowa Ruda below were taken in October 2017 and they translate in a clumsy way, as photos sometimes do, the atmosphere and feelings of an autumn evening in which Strumiłło, a re-enactment of a long disappeared gentry, and his guests talked about old Poland and old ways, but also about today, about the continuous clashes and paradoxes of being between East and West.


Internet Resources:

Profile of the artist and of his artistic pieces [this site and the others last accessed on 26th December 2017]
The Facebook Page dedicated to the House and to the Events happening here
Description of the Photo Album dedicated to his House and to the Surrounding Area
Site dedicated to the palaces and residences of Poland`s borderlands
Article that describes the objects and the furniture in the house,109407,9109478.html?i=5

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