Witnesses: An Interview with Émigre Medallist Danuta Solowiej
My first dream job was to be a surgeon, then an archaeologist, then a gardener but in the end I went to study art. It was a two tier process, fi rst at a Fine Arts Lyceum with focus on tapestry but extended to painting, life drawing and some sculpture thrown in at the end. After five years training I didn’t see myself joining the ranks of the tapestry industry. I felt I had 2D covered and that it was time to move on to sculpture. There were only two Art Academies in Poland at the time and I applied to the nearest in Warsaw. Entry exam was a complex process; from submitted portfolios a longlist was selected for the practical exam which lasted a week, then a written foreign language test.
Almost everyone including myself did Russian since it was taught at schools nationwide. Although I already knew English from the evening classes I joined when asked by a friend, who wanted to apply for English philology, to accompany her as she was afraid to travel back home alone at night. The last hurdle was an interview standing by our works. Unlike the UK there was no foundation year but immediate immersion into life modelling. It was customary to stay in the assigned studio for the duration of fi ve years. Students were introduced to