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Polish church sculpture (the 70s tour of Poland)

frankdom 5 | 8
22 Aug 2012 #1
Dear Friends

From Frankdom

Thank you for admitting me to PolishForums. I am still not sure how the system works. Could I start by asking a question that some members might be able to answer. In the 70s I was on a tour of Poland. As we drove through the countryside we passed many churches, often with large congregations coming out. Many of these churches had cruxifixes of stone at the gates. There was one that was a cross with a difference. The stone cross was empty but the Christ figure sat tailor-fashion at the foot of the cross with a somewhat dispirited expression on his face. I think this was in Western Poland, perhaps near Poznan...but I cannot be certain. Although I definitely saw this, I have never been able to find any reference to it. Modern internet facilities might make this easier but no luck! Maybe it is just something that those Polish people who lived in that particular area would be aware of. So I would be grateful if somebody could help me. Thank you.

smurf 39 | 1,981
22 Aug 2012 #2
He looked disappointed coz nobody helped him when he was up there, not even his own dad
Magdalena 3 | 1,837
22 Aug 2012 #3
a somewhat dispirited expression on his face.

This might help:
OP frankdom 5 | 8
22 Aug 2012 #4
Thanks to Magdalena for her very useful link to 'The Pensive Christ.' I cannot find the exact sculpture that I saw, but at least that link makes me realize that my memory was not at fault and I was not going mad. It is interesting also that the statues seem to be associated somewhat with Silesia which was one of the regions that I travelled in. Thanks to both of you. I hope there will be more correspondence on this matter. It proves the worth of this polish forum to me as I have been searching for ages for information on this but never came anywhere near getting an answer and then I join polishforums and eh presto!!

I am emboldened to try to tap into your collective knowledge on a different topic. On my tour of long ago (it was in the Gierek regime) we visited the Jan Fully Automated Mine, which I think was in Slask (might be wrong). This was fully automated. No men went down that coal mine, unless maybe for repair work. The reason: it was all worked by robots. It was controlled by a man who sat in a nice cosy office with a vast screen in front of him and we could see into the different passageways in the mine. This was very advanced at the time. I never heard of anything like this in UK or USA coalmining regions. Do any of you remember it? Is it still active.

Magdalena 3 | 1,837
22 Aug 2012 #5
Do any of you remember it? Is it still active.,42003,tag-690339,strona-5

Must be your lucky day ;-)

From what I found on the web, it was first incorporated into the Wieczorek mine in 1976 and then liquidated in 1993. So sadly, it's no longer there...
OP frankdom 5 | 8
26 Sep 2012 #6
I was in the bookshop of Westminster Cathedral London the other day and was surprised to see some wood-carved models of 'the pensive Christ' for sale (the genre known in German as der elende Christ). These were not cheap, ranging from £80 to £120. The salesgirl told me that a Polish man called A. Burda (his name was on the bottom of the woodcarving) had made them and brought them in for a trial run, but they were not selling well, probably because they looked so strange to English eyes. She also opined that they showed Christ before the Crucifixion contemplating his execution. She said 'these are found all over Poland', a statement which I think is a gross exaggeration.

It will be interesting to see if this unique sculptural genre catches on in England and whether anyone writes a study of it. Although forum-member Magdalena kindly directed me to the appropriate website, I have still not found a scholarly history and explanation of this genre.

Frank O'Reilly

Digressing from the Polish church sculpture, I was wondering about the variety of church architecture in Poland and whether there is a typically Polish church. I mean in the western part of Poland I found that quite a lot of churches had previously been German Lutheran and then they were converted to Catholic use. I found an interesting 'Polish' church in Helsinki near the harbour. This had been built by Tsar Alexander for this Polish troops who were stationed in what was then the Russian-dominated Grand Duchy of Finland. The church is called St. Henry's (or St. Henrick's). I am not sure how true it is to models of churches in Poland but when I was there a few years ago it had a French priest who preached in English and spoke some Finnish to a congregation of mainly Americans and Filipinos and the church booklets were printed in Meath, Ireland - what a mixture! I am sure that these days Polish architects are using their skills to make exciting and innovative new churches.
9 Apr 2013 #7
I was wondering about the variety of church architecture in Poland and whether there is a typically Polish church.

There is huge variety between church architecture in Poland, with some of it being terrible on an epic scale. See this for examples.

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