The Polish diaspora represents the largest source of immigration to the UK from within the EU, the majority arriving after Poland’s secession in 2004.
A unique arts project, conducted in Lambeth, an area with a significant Polish population, celebrates the contribution this community makes to the city, and the women that do vital work in supporting it. The artist Seth Pimlott has been working with Poles Connect, one such community organisation run by and for women.
During regular workshops, the project has explored their own autobiographies, family histories, and histories of Poland.
Together with Seth and other artistic collaborators, the group has written an opera about their lives.
The work elegantly explores the complicated dynamic between immigrant parents and their naturalised children through a libretto and operatic score that draws equally from Polish classical music, and the folk music and lullabies that the women remember from childhood.
The film is part of a larger project that tries to engage with what a new sense of British citizenship might mean: one that asks how we all ended up here, now in 2017, and that encourages integration based on mutual respect and an interest in each other’s lives, both material and imaginative.
Now that the music and script have been written, and a cast and crew lined up, the group are running a crowdfunder to raise the funds to finish the film and bring the story back to the community and beyond.
Marta Sordyl, co-ordinator of Poles Connect, said: “We have never experimented before with this kind of high level artist collaboration, and this has gained the attention from Polish cultural institutions which we are seeking constantly, as publicity supports communities to become more visible… it might be a very good promotion for the whole Polish community, beyond the borders of Lambeth.”
Seth Pimlott said: “I started working with Poles Connect at a moment when it seemed important to imaginatively address some of the anxieties that this community felt so acutely following the EU referendum.
“It has been a privilege to work with them, particularly at a time of great change and uncertainty. In the UK there is the sense that integration should be one way: you must learn a new language, history and customs.
But this project is about a different approach, one that places mutual respect and interest in one another’s histories and lives as the basis for a good and common civic life.”
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.