Art on the streets of Bydgoszcz
When I visited Bydgoszcz in western Poland I had no idea what to expect. A quick search on Google gave me few facts about the city but little else. I certainly did not expect to see much art on the streets or in the museums for that matter. I discovered that not only did Bydgoszcz embrace art but also the arts in the broader sense.
However, I want to concentrate on the art found on the streets and public places of Bydgoszcz. I first became aware of Bydgoszcz’s street art when looking out from my hotel window. The end wall of what looks like an apartment block was covered in a mural. The trees, from which it seemed to appear, partially blocked the view but seemed part of the artwork itself. The mural starts at street level and stretches up 10 storeys and features a young boy looking up into a tree in which there are a number of “tree houses” and creatures of the imagination. This mural is the work of Polish street artist duo Sainer and Bezt known as the Etam Cru . Their work is featured in murals across Poland, Russia and Turkey.
Another example of their work, also in Bydgoszcz is The Eskimo. This piece, on the end of a building, looks incongruous in the middle of the city on a summers day but really comes into it’s on a grey dreary day. This work is my favourite of all the murals in Bydgoszcz.
I began to wonder whether this underrated city held any more street art gems. A little research revealed that Bydgoszcz was originally home to Soap, a Polish street artist popular in Western Europe. He was part of “The Crew” a group of artists from Bydgoszcz. An example of their work, Breakfast of Champions (above), can be seen on Piotra Stargi.
In the centre of Bydgoszcz stands an old mill which is now the Museum of Modern Art. The island park across the canal is reached by any of several bridges over the river Brda. Close to one of these bridges is an example of some of the eclectic and random works of art. It’s simply a bicycle painted on a wall in a tromp l’oeil style. From the other side of the canal it looks as if it could be ridden away.
Turn and head along the canal/river path in the other direction and you came to another example of Bydgoszcz’s street art that uses everyday objects. This one uses garishly coloured chairs and tables. What is perhaps unique about it is they are not painted on the wall but are the actual objects fixed to it. Simple yet somehow fascinating it certainly makes you pause and wonder.
From street art to sculptures
On a high wire above the River Brda in central Bydgoszcz is a figure in perfect balance.
To achieve this perfect balance the leg under the wire is filled with lead. The sculpture “Crossing the River” was commissioned on Poland’s entry into the EU. This finely balanced sculpture is in front of the Three Granaries that are the iconic image of Bydgoszcz. They are in danger of being eclipsed as the man on the wire is becoming the iconic image, and the scene most photographed, of the city.
There are numerous other sculptures and many statues in Bydgoszcz but one that stands out for me is “The Deluge”. This huge piece, set in a park is part fountain, part sculpture by the artist Ferdinand Lepcke. It depicts the Biblical Flood and the people and animals that didn’t make it into the Ark with Noah. It is quite moving as a baby clambers over its mother, a bear tries to save its cub and man and beast fight for the high ground.
These are just a sample of the art scene on the streets of Bydgoszcz. There is more to be found in the museums and in the churches.
For more information on Bydgoszcz and what to do when visiting – www.visitbydgoszcz.pl.
Currently Ryanair are the only airline to fly direct to Bydgoszcz from the UK. Flights, both direct and via other Polish cities, can be booked at Skyscanner
Declaration: I travelled as a guest of the Polish National Tourist Office. I do however maintain full editorial control and give an unbiased opinion of my experiences.