After hours

„Shipyard After Hours ONLINE”  with Ewa Alicja Majewska and Piotr Mróz

I am talking with Ewa Alicja Majewska and Piotr Mróz about looking at the Shipyard from the outside. When this confrontation takes on a personal character and turns into an internal story about an industrial plant. We also touch on the topic of the two editions of the of the International Open-Air for Young Artists “Shipyard – a Look from Outside/Confrontations” (2003 and 2004).

Dr Ewa Majewska is a feminist philosopher and activist. She worked at the universities of Warsaw and the Jagiellonian University, she also worked in projects at the University of California in Berkeley, IWM in Vienna and ICI Berlin. She is the author of four books, including: Counter-public and feminist counterpublics and Tram called recognition. Feminism and solidarity after neoliberalism, as well as about 50 articles and essays, published, among others, in: e-flux, Signs, Third Text, Journal of Utopian Studies, Praktyka Teoretyczna and Jacobin. Currently, he deals mainly with Hegelian philosophy, especially with the issue of the dialectics of the weak; feminist critical theory and anti-fascist cultures. Her next book, Feminist Antifascism. Counterpublics of the Common, will be released in 2021 by Verso.

Piotr Mróz (Straus) born in ’74 associated with Gdańsk, a graduate of the Faculty of History at the University of Gdańsk, professionally associated with the Medical University of Gdańsk. In his spare time, he is a graphic designer who has always been fascinated by photography and the history of Gdańsk and its surroundings. Participant of the first edition of the International Open-Air for Young Artists “Shipyard – a Look from Outside/Confrontations” in the Gdańsk Shipyard, author of the animations: Shipyard – A look from the inside … | The Shipyard – a look from inside.

„Stocznia AfterHours ONLINE” is a series of meetings with people who are interested in the culture and history related to the Gdańsk Shipyard. The meetings are conducted by Iwona Zając. They have an online form.

„Shipyard After Hours ONLINE” with Roman Sebastyański

I am talking with Roman Sebastyański about building relationships, a network of contacts and the NEW SHIPYARD
Will the modified „Dreams to Fulfillment” list, which is a specific vision and mission as well as a strategy of desired transformations and further development of the post-shipyard areas, be effectively used?
The „Dreams to Be Fulfilled” list is a set of socially generated and agreed recommendations for all stakeholders in the planning process and implementation of further transformations of the former Gdańsk Shipyard areas, including, in particular, the city authorities as well as owners and developers who participated in the process of creating this document. This document was handed over to them as well as made public on social media.
Roman Sebastyański (1965) – urban artist, involved in the transformation processes of the former Gdańsk Shipyard since 1994. He collaborated with the Gdańsk authorities (1994-99), the new owner (2000-2006) and a network of activists involved in the protection of the cultural heritage of this place (2007-2018). From November 2018, the coordinator of the „Shipyard from Nowa” project as an open platform for free dialogue for everyone interested in the principles and forms of further transformations of the former Gdańsk Shipyard areas, respecting the memory of its wonderful past. PhD student at the University of the West of Scotland and board member of INTBAU Polska (International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism).
„Stocznia AfterHours ONLINE” is a series of meetings with people who are interested in the culture and history related to the Gdańsk Shipyard. The meetings are conducted by Iwona Zając. They have an online form.
Implemented as part of the scholarship program of the Ministry of Culture National Heritage and Sport of the Republic of Poland – Culture on the Web.

„Shipyard After Hours ONLINE” with Agnieszka Wołodzko

I am talking to Agnieszka Wołodzko about the nature of the shipyard.
Is it possible to implement her idea „Garden of Solidarity – a social garden in the post-shipyard area? A key role in this idea would be the issues of openness and the possibility of action for all willing, social participation in its creation and maintenance, cooperation and mutual assistance, so characteristic of the Solidarity traditions, born in this place.
dr Agnieszka Wołoźko - Artist, curator and researcher of culture. Studies: Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, Faculty. Interior Architecture and Industrial Design and the Department. Painting and Graphics. PhD studies: Uniwersytet im. Adam Mickiewicz in Poznań, Department Social Sciences. As an artist, she deals with art in public space, engaged art, photography, installation, ceramics, sound works and actions. It carries out workshops for various social groups. She publishes texts on contemporary art and culture. with Magazyn Sztuki, she was a correspondent for Flash Art International. She is the author of the books Japan 2002-2003. Photographic Diary (2005), Reading walls (2014), Meetings and mikroutopie. Participatory art in Scandinavia. She is the president of the „Kultura over Culture” foundation and a member of the international Think Tank Transbaltic. Works in Poland and abroad.

„Stocznia AfterHours ONLINE” is a series of meetings with people who are interested in the culture and history related to the Gdańsk Shipyard. The meetings are conducted by Iwona Zając. They have an online form.
Implemented as part of the scholarship program of the Ministry of Culture National Heritage and Sport of the Republic of Poland – Culture on the Web.

„Shipyard After Hours ONLINE” with Dorota Karaś and Marek Sterlingow

I am talking to Dorota Karaś and Marek Sterlingow – the authors of the biography of Anna Walentynowicz „Anna is looking for a paradise”. As part of our meeting, we talk about the growth being built by a large factory and what influence the „Matysiak” family has on the shipyard brigade. Why are workers adored by artists and when do we work for the stars ourselves? Perhaps Marek about the Beatles.
Dorota Karaś – journalist of „Gazeta Wyborcza”, publishes in „Duży Format”, „Wysokie Obcasy”, „Przegląd Polityczny”. The author of the book „Wardrobe, kettle, ring road. Conversations with foreigners ”(Oficyna Gdańska publishing house, 2013) – a collection of extensive interviews with foreigner miracles living in Gdańsk and the biography of Cybulski. A double somersault ”(Znak Publishing House, 2016). Co-author of the book (together with Marek Sterlingow) „Walentynowicz. Anna looks for a paradise” (Znak Publishing House, 2020). Winner of the readers’ award in the Grand Press – Reporting Book of the Year competition and the Splendor Gedanensis award.

Marek Sterlingow – a journalist associated with Gdańsk for 25 years. He has worked for Gazeta Wyborcza and Radio Gdańsk, and is currently a freelancer. As a journalist, he wrote a number of historical reports, especially from the times of the Solidarity uprising. In 2007 he was a war correspondent in Afghanistan. He is also the co-author of two books on history: „Pomorze w ogniu” and „Birth of Solidarity. August Chronicles „. He was nominated for the Grand Press award three times. In 2020, for the book „Walentynowicz. Anna looks for a paradise ”, written with Dorota Karaś, an edition of the Grand Press readers in the reporter’s book of the year category. Laureate of the Splendor Gedanensis award.

„Stocznia AfterHours ONLINE” is a series of meetings with people who are interested in the culture and history related to the Gdańsk Shipyard. The meetings are conducted by Iwona Zając. They have an online form.
Implemented as part of the scholarship program of the Ministry of Culture National Heritage and Sport of the Republic of Poland – Culture on the Web.

„Shipyard After Hours ONLINE” with Anna Miler

I will start the first meeting in the „Shipyard After Hours ONLINE” series with a conversation with Anna Miler, who since 2012 has been dealing with the history of women working in the Gdańsk Shipyard.
Culture in the Shipyard had many faces and a significant contribution to the development of the cultural and artistic life of the Tri-City. We will talk about the people who created it, the assumptions that made it real and the diversity of its forms. From club clubs at the Factory House of Culture to the Red Guitars performances at the Ster club. From the on-site radio station to the social and cultural magazine of the Coast „Litery”. What did the poet Agnieszka Osiecka and the poet Bolesław Fac have in common with the Shipyard?
Anna Miler – cultural scientist, the political scientist. For almost 10 years, she has been researching and popularizing the history of the Gdańsk Shipyard from the perspective of women. She co-created the routes for visiting the Shipyard and gives tours around the site of the former plant as part of the „Metropolitanka” project ( She is the co-author of the mobile application „The Shipyard is a Woman” and radio dramas about the employees of the plant ( In the Gdańsk Entrepreneurship Incubator, STARTER supports the development of leadership competencies of women working in the maritime and logistics industry.
„Stocznia AfterHours ONLINE” is a series of meetings with people who are interested in the culture and history related to the Gdańsk Shipyard. The meetings are conducted by Iwona Zając. They have an online form.
Implemented as part of the scholarship program of the Ministry of Culture National Heritage and Sport of the Republic of Poland – Culture on the Web.


We are glad that you are with us. I would like to welcome you. This is the first meeting of the series „Shipyard after hours ONLINE”. This concerns the Shipyard of course, it’s easy to guess, but also a project that I started in 2004 because I had a studio at the Shipyard, and while walking around those areas I saw paintings, I saw pictures that depicted the shipyard zone, ships and cranes, various elements related to the Shipyard. This fact fascinated me and I started to ask where they came from, why they were there, who painted them. And that’s how I found out about shipyard workers, about both female and male artists, about amateur artists, as they were called. They had their own association, they had their plain airs, they exhibited their works, also at the then BWA in Sopot, now the State Art Gallery. I have been working on this project for quite a long time… I mean, I have been working on it for many years, it is very difficult to find information by searching in archives or asking for information among shipyard workers, but somehow it increases. And I also met Ania in this place, because we both search for information. We look for various information about the shipyard area, and we share this information when we find anything. And it is also very developing, because each of us has a different amount of knowledge, skills, curiosity, needs, and because when we combine our findings, it gives me, I have the impression, much richer results. I absolutely do not compare my activity to Ania’s search, because Ania is known to spend many hours in the archives. [Laughs] Ania, could you tell a few words about yourself? And maybe also from your perspective, why you are here with me. And welcome everyone.

- Hello, my name is Ania Miller and, as Iwona mentioned, for several years I have been researching and popularizing the history of the Gdansk Shipyard, mainly in terms of women who worked there. I STARTED READING IT, it’s been 9 years now, since 2012. Indeed, what we do in the project „Metropolitanka” and „The Shipyard is a Woman”, we spend a lot of time in the archives, on one hand, and on the other hand, we talk with shipyard workers and we rely on these two legs. These are state archives and newspapers, the Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences, but also digital archives. Due to the fact that there is digitization, there is online access to many sources. I talked with Iwona earlier that these are sometimes really surprising places where you can find something, a word, a short article, the mention of the cultural life in the Shipyard, which we will probably mainly talk about today. Somewhere, in a completely surprising place…… Last year I found interesting materials in the National Library in Warsaw, which I have not been able to locate here in the Tri-City yet, kind of morning bulletins from the Shipyard, which informed what would be happening in the Shipyard on the next day, what had happened the day before. It was reported to the press, as it seems, and the press published information about the Shipyard on this basis. For me, the history of women was and still is the most interesting, because the lesser known. Today, I think, there are quite a lot of these materials to be found, while in 2012 there were individual initiatives, on this topic, that took place. For example the project by Ewa Majewska, which took place as part of the event, which Iwona co-organized. You were even its initiator. It was 2004, I think, when Ewa Majewska talked with the workers of the Shipyard for the first time. And now, to my surprise, I also found a photo of a lady with whom we talked after many years. And this is also nice, because in 2004 she was still working on the gantry, in 2012 or 2013, when we met, she was already retired, so we have two moments of her life captured, a certain transformation that is difficult to catch, because finding threads that connect the past with the presence isn’t easy.
In the case of women, it is particularly difficult, when they changed their surnames and became someone else, at least this continuity is absent in the documents. So this is a painstaking job that gives me a lot of fun. Now it is hampered by difficult access to the archives, but a lot of this material has already been collected. We talked about it earlier, I am aware that many gaps won’t be filled, because some documents have probably disappeared somewhere, we won’t reach people who could help us fill these gaps, but still…..
So we may never be able to fill these gaps completely, but from these random discoveries that we exchange with each other, because when I look for materials about everyday life in the Shipyard, I find something about artists, both women and men, I take photos of them for Iwona, send, completing her base. Today we’ve been talking that maybe we will also exchange what we need and support each other in this investigation, because, for example, the largest newspaper „Głos Stoczniowca”/Shipyard Worker’s Voice and its archive, where is it? This is the question that bothers me now, what happened to the archive of this newspaper, which has numerous letters, diaries. Hope it hasn’t been lost. So these are still treasures to be discovered. And it’s joy, I have impression of a child who is playing, has a treasure map, is trying to find all the places worth peering in, all the stones.
- Yes. Indeed, it is such a feeling of looking for things with the awareness that you may not find them. Or going around for many years, you think you have found something, but in a moment it turns out to be something else and suddenly you follow a different trail. But this is, I think, interesting. Perhaps the most important thing is that it results from the need. Because, however, Ania, you’ve spent a lot of time, since 2012, when you started working on the „Metropolitanka” project and you began creating herstories in the area related to the Shipyard. Look, it’s been actually 9 years you’ve been in this topic.
And hence my first question, what happened, why did it get you hooked so much? Because you could have done this project and leave, get involved in something else. What happened that made you get into this issue so hard?
- I think that it is also such a belief…. probably one day this work will end, but for now I have more questions than answers. When we started to ask these questions, we started in 2012, there were a few people we talked with, it grew to a database of over 60 interviews that we have in the „Shipyard is a Woman” archive. But these are not only interviews with women, they are also with men. And in fact, thanks to the fact that more and more people are interested in this subject, new threads appear. In addition, there are efforts to inscribe this area on the UNESCO World Heritage List, so there are more and more of these activities, attempts to highlight the history of the everyday, ordinary Shipyard. It is also so motivating for further action. I am studying for my PhD on the everyday life of women, so, actually, this is why I am looking for information all the time, and also with my supervisor, we’ve come to the conclusion that we need to finish this research and close this stage and, go further in the next one. Because I am more and more aware of the gaps. I think to myself that 2 years ago…… 2 years ago I held a lecture about culture at the Shipyard and I think that only then I was at the very beginning of this investigation. Now, after 2 consecutive years, after searching the archives, reading the director’s circulars, which summon certain employees to the rehearsals of the shipyard orchestra, after reading the reviews of the shipyard concerts, I am beginning to notice how many more of these threads are there. And it certainly cannot be reconstructed in its entirety, because it would be some kind of encyclopedia, I think. However, it is extremely interesting. These are the stories of their lives when talking with people. So this passion, which I personally accept and I would like to pass it on, is extremely absorbing. I keep telling these stories, usually during walks around the Gdansk Shipyard, it is also very interesting.
Actually, on various occasions, various information comes back to us, I mean, people with new threads come, I get phone numbers from time to time to new people who are worth asking about the Shipyard. And there is a feeling that there is not much time here, we cannot wait, they are elderly people. And if we want to collect and save these stories, we should do it right away. The pandemic makes it difficult for us, because it is not a safe contact for older and younger people, we take it very seriously. So now I have devoted this time to working in digital archives and collecting all these materials, but there is another crowd worth asking for; there is. So we’re still collecting this information. I am very happy that we can show you some piece of the unknown history of the Shipyard. This is also the feedback from the woman, former employees, who share their stories, (they say) it’s great that someone finally shows less known aspects of everyday work, because for many years the Shipyard was viewed from the perspective of strike, an accident at the Shipyard. And when I talk with my promoter and he asks me if this thread appears in the memories, an important historical thread, and it turns out that no, this thread does not exist. On the other hand, there are other threads which, in turn, do not exist in the common consciousness, such time limits in the Shipyard. So that’s also very interesting. I think to myself that female shipyard workers, shipyard women workers – stoczniówki. this is what these women say about themselves, constitute an important group in the history of Gdansk, they also built Gdansk on various levels. These are our neighbours, grandmothers, grandparents and fathers. My dad worked in the Remontowa Shiprepair Yard for 40 years, direct neighbourhood with the Gdansk Shipyard, and he even told me a story once, actually quite recently, that he would go to Remontówka through the Gdansk Shipyard to take the shortcut. It was the first time that I heard about something like this, that it was possible to cross the entire area without a permit from the Gdansk Shipyard, from gate 1 to gate 4, the one on Ostrów Island.
He used to walk the Shipyard back and forth, as I am now as a guide. So this is too, I think, an interesting continuation of the family story.
- I would like to touch this topic as well, because as you mentioned Ewa Majewska, we started this event in 2003 and it was my idea. From 2002, I had a studio there. But surely without this strength, without the energy of Ewa, Ellen Southern, Piotr Mróz, Szczyma, Agnieszka Szreder, and other artists who then came to the Shipyard at their own expense, it would not have been possible. Ewa is younger than me, but Ewa was teaching me feminism, and already in 2003 it was her who introduced this topic concerning women in the Shipyard. She made such an implementation, an installation made of the clothes of the shipyard women. And for me at that time, the Shipyard was absolutely the male point of view. I associated the shipyard with a man. That is why there are statements from male shipyard workers, not women, on the walls. As if I grew up in this culture, in this perception of this place, and for me it is extremely valuable, that work that Ewa started to do in me, but later you gave it such a strong, interesting dimension.
- I must say that looking at the photos of Ewa Majewska, or your works in general, it is such a joy that these buildings are still standing, the buildings which we have not had the opportunity to see. What Maciej Szupica did, he documented the demolition, together with Michał Szlaga, the demolition of the director’s villa, while documenting, they also caught its interiors. These are really priceless materials. Only now do I appreciate that artists have documented these places that are not there now. These are priceless, artistic transformations of this place, giving new meanings as well.
- But also it is happening now, because iwhat has happened, this is what I observe in myself, this need to process the history that was there. This is what you talked about, this pricelessness, this culture that has developed there and is disappearing. It is not about the fact that I, as an artist, process something, but it is more interesting for me how culture is being created in a large workplace.
- This is an endless story, as I said, because each decade actually…. Mr. Zygmunt Tyska, who is also a well-known activist in commemorating the Shipyard, said that: „when you ask me about work at the Shipyard, almost every decade is a different story”. And it is clearly visible, because social and cultural changes and development of Gdansk, everything had influence even on the culture in the Shipyard. Let’s have a look at the period just after the war, people from everywhere came to Gdansk. There is one diary, from 1970’s, the shipyard workers’ diaries were published in Głos Stoczniowca/The Shipyard Workers’ Voice, and many of them recalled the years right after the war. One gentleman wrote that he lived in a house that did not have one wall, because it had been demolished by a bomb. And with a friend they moved into this flat, they covered the hole somehow, and it was their place, their apartment. They had only one set of clothing. So when the culture, common room in the Shipyard began to develop, the first thing was to give people the feeling that they could do something in their free time instead of walking around the city that was ruined, and give them the opportunity to spend time with other people, integrating and building the community of shipyard workers- this was what culture was for. Anyway, it served this purpose a bit all the time. In the following years, propaganda goals were pursued by introducing culture, in other words on one hand, amateur groups operated, they also staged plays spreading some propaganda messages. Even if it was a play about the Ukrainian countryside, „Bandura” – such a play was also staged by the Song and Dance Ensemble – it used to spread very propaganda message about how the new system positively influenced the inhabitants of the village. However, these memories, although few, show that this was an area in which people could actually fulfill themselves. For example, I was wondering where the musicians in the Shipyard Orchestra came from. For 30 years there was an orchestra in the Shipyard, in which there were several dozen musicians, and they performed at children’s Christmas parties, at ship launching, at shipyard workers’ funerals.
They used to wear shipyard uniforms, played various instruments, there were several dozen of them there. They were just men, as far as I know. However, at some point I found information that they were, among others, musicians from demobilized military orchestras. So there are different stories behind these people here. And in those groups, that were created by such animators of shipyard culture, there was a choir, a ballet, and a stage band that was very popular, and such vocal groups – I think there were a dozen of them in the 1950’s. It was the peak of their development. On one hand, they were indeed described in typically propaganda articles, as the authorities of the People’s Republic of Poland give workers a chance to develop. However, it did give them a chance to fulfill themselves. For example, one gentleman who was a member of the choir wrote songs for this choir and, for example, wrote the song „At the Baltic Sea”, which was sung during the launching of „Sołdek”. So that was something these people could actually feel proud of. And it is very important. And I think, that probably because it was taking place in those years which are perceived in a negative way from the political point of view, today many people don’t want to say certain things. The fact that they felt proud that they worked in this system and were successful is so uncomfortable for them now. And it is important, in the interviews we conduct, to make them feel that this is an important story. They shouldn’t feel ashamed that they could have fulfilled themselves then. The abundance of bands, in which there were probably several hundred people, and there were both young people working in the shipyard, girls and boys, and also people from the city, so some integration here with people from outside gave them a great chance for development. And that changed when these people got married, when there were children, there was no time to spend hours rehearsing “after hours”. But we learn that sometimes the rehearsals were at work. The foremen did not want to let their employees out for rehearsals, it is not surprising, they had plans to implement.
So the management used to issue circulars according to which they dismissed certain employees during working hours for rehearsals. On the other hand, the foremen who did not want to dismiss these workers were negatively described in the press as those who did not understand the superiority of cultural goals. So this tension between production and culture was visible all the time. It is hardly surprising, because it was a shipbuilding plant, not a community center. At that time, however, there was such a belief that culture should exist in this workplace, that the workplace should encompass entire human existence and that workers should also spend their free time there. And at a time, when there were really a lot of young people, when the living conditions were terrible, it was attractive. On Saturday afternoons, they stayed in the afternoon for afternoon tea by the radio, and listened to radio broadcasts together in the shipyard common room. But with time, as radios and TV sets appeared at homes, this form of spending time was less attractive. Another interesting fact is that Agnieszka Osiecka was in the 1950’s, in 1954 and 1955, on an internship at „Głos Wybrzeża” newspaper, and she also wrote there about the Shipyard Workers’ Houses. She wrote an article, one of the first, about a visit to the Shipyard Workers’ House. In her diaries, she also wrote about Teodor, an inhabitant of this house, and described his life, that he was returning from the shipyard, passing Long Market street under reconstruction, to the shipyard hotel. There is nothing interesting there, this place has nothing to offer him, there is a table tennis table, there weren’t many attractions, so he spent his free time drinking alcohol in the bar near the Green Gate. And this was also the problem that the culture was supposed to solve – alcohol abuse. Culture had to engage workers in their free time enough to make alcohol not so attractive. Hence, the cultural animation in the Shipyard Workers’ Houses, in the few Houses that were in Gdansk. There were common rooms. Attempts were made to schedule free time, together, in an attractive way. It resembles current discussions, I mean, the feeling that we do something nice and interesting, but “they don’t appreciate it”.
This is again a tension between the need of people who had completed elementary or vocational school, often did not have the need or did not know the opportunity of going to the theatre, to the opera, they expected something different. But it turns out that even engineers not necessarily used to go to the opera. In the 1960’s the magazine „Letters” did such a survey among engineers and asked them “how often they devoted themselves to high culture”, we used to use this expression. And that was not a frequent activity either. They said they went to the opera every six months. I think they used to attend less often but it was just a bit of a shame to admit it. However, they emphasized that they would like to spend their free time in some entertaining way. Not in an amateur band, but going to a fair, taking part in an entertaining concert. So the expectations and the aspirations of the cultural staff slightly differed. I could talk for a long time, now a break, maybe you’d like to ask about something, because I’m in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and here a whole spectrum of other interesting events took place.
- First of all, on the formal side, if you have any questions – we are glad that you are with us – please write them. I can see them. You mentioned „Letters”, about this disappointment or the feeling of unfulfilling, because we make up different things and no one comes. I remember this experience when we, as the Artists’ Colony in the former telephone exchange, put a lot of effort into making shipyard workers come to our exhibitions, meetings and concerts. After all, we worked with them, we used to go to them, bothered them all the time. And it was difficult. And only the fair, when we organised it, worked. But we also talked about it a bit earlier, when we weren’t linked yet, when we were not visible, about the fact that this culture in the Shipyard, or in various plants at all, or in general in life, it does not go well. In quantity. However, it is extremely important that if we create conditions for the development of this space, when thinking about culture and creation begins to emerge, it is difficult to apply a quantitative measure to it.
It is a great joy if there is one person, the second or the third, who gets engaged into this space and begins to act, discovering something new for her- or himself. I have such an impression that we forget about what used to be. Because you were talking about „Letters”, and I had never known before that there was such a magazine. I was fascinated with it. We forget so quickly what was 20-30 years ago. And hence, I have a great need to archive, collect information that is still accessible. And I think – because someone could say that an institution can do it, there are institutions created for it – but what I think about such projects which are niche, you can call them in this way, mine is extremely niche, but in general this is a different perspective, a different point of view on the issue. I mentioned a lot of threads here, sorry.
- I think that we complement each other nicely, that, for example, the Baltic Digital Library digitizes, or one of the institutions which has account there, digitizes such magazines as „Letters”, because it is fully available online. And this is great, because even while sitting at home on Sunday, I can search for information after the keywords that come to my mind. I’ve done so. The same about Dziennik Bałtycki, which is entirely available online. This is the source of information that is accesible now. I can browse it number by number and find gems, anchor points. I think it is super important that these collections are digitized and that we can, having them and having our sneak peaks, look for what interests us, connect these dots. As we discussed earlier, for example many archives were probably lost, the ones from the Shipyard. We don’t know where they are, maybe we will find them, maybe not. It would be nice if it was easier to get to these materials and find a person who knows everything and says: “listen, this is here, this is there”, but that is unlikely to be done. Rather, what we can do is talking with these people.
They say: „I have something at home, in the archive, I will show you”, and it turns out that they have a treasure, which they considered important – this is also interesting. My dad collected materials during the strike, he has both the “Trybuna Ludu”/”People’s Tribune” and „Strike Bulletins”, and materials that were published in ‘81. And then I found the interview with Anna Walentynowicz, which he took for himself. I think it says a lot about what was important and worth keeping for people back then. I think I am slowly beginning to accept the fact that, indeed, they did not consider everything important. Just like you said that you were looking for an exhibition catalog. It was great to find the book from the exhibitions that took place in the Shipyard, where the shipyard workers wrote their comments. Here I can read one opinion, one lady animator from the shipyard told us that someone once wrote that „the dinner was bad, but the exhibition was good”. So I think these are the subtleties that make you want to talk about these stories endlessly. But taking into account that 150,000 people worked at the Shipyard all this time, even more, so even if I would be able to collect everything, it would be impossible to get through.
- That’s why it seems to me that…’s so important, because it is such a complex matter that an individual approach and searching through one’s own prism, through one’s interests and fascinations is so important. Because, what we also noticed, that we’ve started looking for some things that, for example, are not in the folder they should be in, but because we ask quite specific questions, because we are fascinated by something and we know something. It gives you the opportunity to find the thing that is not just archived exactly like can be expected, that you can type the letter and it appears. For me it is very interesting, of course ithere is also a question to what extent we interpret this world through ourselves and as if we create an image of this world through ourselves, and whether it is good or bad. I think that it is good because it enriches. But there may be opinions that this is over-interpretation.
- Yes. There is such a risk. Although, I remember writing one essay on cultural studies. My promoter, Jerzy Szyłak, directed me to the text, he said that you have the right to your thoughts, your questions. He made me read Raffi. I think to myself that these questions can lead us to various strange places, and sometimes even to wrong ones. But then it is good to have someone to confront the thought with. I really appreciate the opportunity to call the ladies, gentlemen from the Shipyard, and ask them about something. Because some threads are strange and surprising. Recently, I became interested in the topic of washing. I called them to ask how it was with washing clothes, because the management wrote something in circulars, something strange, incomprehensible to me, and they explained it to me. Or someone was talking about something in simplified way and I could have passed it on in this form, but I wanted to ask how they remembered it. However, each time I am aware that, what Mrs. Ula remembers, it won’t necessarily be the same how Mr. Zygmunt remembers it. So, this is probably such a difficulty as well. I try to use anthropological tools, so I can work a little more freely than if I were a historian and I would look for 3 sources to confirm some information. And here it is more interesting for me what people remember, even if they remember a bit differently than it was in reality, cause some facts did not fit together for some reason. For me, the most interesting subjective story about the Shipyard is the question about the strike, because we asked about the strike. For us the strike was August ’80. And for most of the ladies it was December ’70. And it turned out that in their strike hierarchy this event was better remembered because it was more traumatic and tragic in their lives. How certain things are remembered, returning to culture, there was a sports and entertainment hall, no person calls it so, but: „this hall that burned down”. In this way they give meaning to certain events. For example, the fire at Konopnicka ship, which was an important turning point in the history of the Shipyard.
They do not remember exactly what year it was, because the years mix up, but they know that such a tragic event happened and that it was of great importance for their sense of security or danger, and it changed some things at the Shipyard. Then it turns out suddenly that chronology works differently and everyone has her or his own, for different reasons.
- I learned from talking with people that memory is amazing, it follows our emotions. Something that seems obvious that someone remembered, someone does not remember, and the other person…. when I was talking with the shipyard workers, it turned out that one gentleman completely did not remember that I had been talking with him. I brought a recording, he recognized himself, but he completely did not remember me. And the other gentleman remembered that I spoke to him but actually I did not. I found it pointless. There is no point in such a strict structure, because we are talking about a picture of history rather than strictly facts on the time line.
- We can say we have the facts from documents, but what was considered important enough to keep and what not to keep… It is also someone’s decision, and on the basis of this decision, now we have access to information.
- How did you hit it, how did you find the Letters? Had you known before that this magazine was being published? Or for example….. I don’t want to confuse the name, very nice name…that bulletin you sent me and it was typewritten.
- I’ve prepared notes because some names are quite complicated. Methodical Bulletin of the Gdansk Region published by the Provincial House of Culture…..
- Yes. Magnificent.
- So discussions of experts about the culture, one issue devoted in half to culture at the Shipyard. The materials and texts by Bolesław Fac, who worked in the library at the Shipyard, he was a poet and a columnist for Głos Stoczniowca/ Shipyard Worker’s Voice at the same time, wrote about the Shipyard, often satirically, often maliciously. In „Głos Stoczniowca” he referred to life at the Shipyard.
On the other hand, he often wrote about health and safety. When he wrote about it, even if he wrote mockingly, it was with this message that „it is important, if you want to survive, wear these helmets”. He smuggled certain topics, important issues, in those texts. In „Letters” he wrote and discussed the role of books in the lives of shipyard workers. Edgard Milewski, another journalist and columnist, wrote a lot about culture associated with the Shipyard. And these are so surprising sources. I was delighted when I found it. And actually, that was just sitting in a digital libraries and searching by keywords. I return to these libraries, because with time they probably better describe certain collections. I suppose that not everything is elaborated as it should be right away. So, after some time I find something new. And this is the Bałtycka Digital Library, Pomorska. Polona, sometimes you can find something interesting there too. New collections also appear, so you can find there more journalistic attitude toward culture in the Shipyard. So we have stories of people who created culture and were animators. There were stories of people who participated in this culture, press releases, for example the repertoire of the Panorama cinema, which was at the Shipyard, information about concert by Marlena Dietrich from „Dziennik Bałtycki” or other newspapers, press articles, reports about bigbit concerts, about young people yelling. I’ll read for you, it made me laugh a lot: “They came here to yell, because they had been taught that. They hadn’t been supplied with knowledge how to judge music, rather” It is 1969, a group of Troubadours in the Gdansk Shipyard Entertainment Hall. The authors of this text from “Letters” exaggerated what could have happened, because mothers came to these concerts with their thirteen or fourteen-year-olds. Almost like descriptions of the Beatles concerts in Great Britain. Suddenly, it turns out that the picture of the Shipyard, which is so serious issue, which is associated with strikes, because they happened there and had a huge impact on the fate of employees and the fate of Poland, this is not the whole picture of this place.
At the same time bigbit concerts, Miss Polonia elections, and the Sopot Song Festival, which was organized for the first time at the Gdansk Shipyard, took place. Due to the fact that there was a huge entertainment hall, various surprising things could happen in it. Telimena’s fashion shows were organized, so by definision they were more events for women. At the Shipyard House of Culture, a tea ceremony took place, it was according to a recipe of one of the cultures, I don’t remember well now, maybe it was Indian. So there were so many surprising things happening. When I find it, I think that the picture of the Shipyard is incredibly complicated, because suddenly we start talking about both female and male painters that you try to find, and whose works were displayed on the road between the BHP Hall and the management building. I think it was a wonderful idea, really, to do it in a place which people pass by every day. That is what we also practice in culture in order to place culture in the place of our daily existence. They invented it then, using the shipyard ropes, because during exhibitions they used what was at the Shipyard, they made such an arrangement. Incredible stories in a shipbuilding facility where there was constant bang, dust, loud noise, and just there was art. Marlena Dietrich complained that when she had a concert in the hall, the passing trains caused the shaking of the stage, so it was inconvenient. There were places adapted to the needs of culture, some buildings that were later demolished or adapted for other production purposes, because it was the priority of the Shipyard.
- Exactly, because we are talking about this culture that appears, and this development in terms of time and propaganda appears as well, but also in terms of individual development and being in a group. But it is still a production site. And then there are some moments when the Shipyard House of Culture was used for production. The picture where culture was shown was being changed. For me, the collaborations that took place are very interesting … I remember when I was at Mr. Ireneusz Leśniak’s and he showed me the catalog published by BWA in Sopot, and that BWA came to the Shipyard, the artists showed performances in the canteen.
And this cooperation was taking place on various levels, including the present Old Town Hall, there were also exhibitions of shipyard workers’ works. It is still an interesting area that these institutions cooperated with each other, I am also interested in this, the traces of how it all was happening. And this dynamic of culture in the Shipyard, it would change its places. The Shipyard House of Culture was created, later it was closed.
- Yes, it is true, there was a lot of collaboration. I had known that it was in the 1970’s, because then the Shipyard cooperated very intensively with municipal institutions. But also in the 1950’s there was such collaboration. I’ve found information about the Pomeranian Museum, which organized guided tours for labor leaders. And there was such report that one of the labor leaders was at the exhibition and was watching the exhibition. It was a model not only of work, but also of spending free time. It had been a long time cooperation, in the years when it hadn’t worked so well at the Shipyard, yet. Artists of the subsequent Baltic Philharmonic and the Baltic Opera Ballet also collaborated with amateur ensembles in common rooms and in the Shipyard House of Culture, just being choreographers, helping to arrange the repertoire in the choir, supporting them as conductors, musicians, and dancers. There were a lot of these people and they were professionals who sometimes worked in shipyard workers groups for many years. So it was the first collaboration. In the 1940’s, the Theater of Jarzynówna performed in the Shipyard, the Łątek Theater, later Miniatura Theater, performed there because it did not have its own place yet, so they staged in the Shipyard in the places which were probably unheated. And then, in the 1960’s, it started, such a discussion on whether the Shipyard was to organize culture. Perhaps it would be better for the appropriate institutions to deal with it. And, actually, it made sense because at that time there were more and more of these institutions, they were already operating efficiently. I think that was a valid question. It was pointed out that amateur groups were a bit archaic, that they involved a small number of people, that they constantly exhibited the same things, there were critical comments regarding them as well.
But also until 1973 the Shipyard House of Culture stood as a building. There was the Panorama cinema, which presented various films, and it was one of the cinemas that Dziennik Bałtycki listed, so it was accessible to the audience from outside too. However, due to the need to find land for new buildings in the Shipyard, this historic building from the beginning of the 19th century was demolished. The house of culture ceased to own its own seat, only single rooms. It was then that the cooperation with the then Leningrad cinema, the later Neptune, began for good. There were special film shows as part of the Film Festival for shipyard workers, and they picked their favorites, their favourite films they rewarded, often different from the jury did, and it evoked indignation that that they had their own award, that they could have awarded. Wybrzeże Theater organized premieres of performances specially for shipyard workers. Then there were talks with the actors. There was a play directed by Hanuszkiewicz staged in the theater in Olivia, a discussion with the shipyard workers at the Ster Club to give them the opportunity to ask questions. One of the shipyard workers told me one nice thing, that these shipyard premieres meant that people working side by side on a daily basis, but someone was a supervisor, someone subordinate, they met there on a fairly equal level, dressed in suits, looking quite similarly. And he even told me that there were various backstage contracts. Someone met his supervisor in the theater and discussed something between the acts, and later in the Shipyard he referred to these arrangements from the theater, so also an interesting situation. The tickets were either for free or they were cheaper, so many people took advantage of it and got tickets for concerts, for example bigbit ones, for their children. Among places which collaborated was the Old Town Hall, where concerts of graduates of the State Higher School of Music were organized, exhibitions with BWA were arranged. And here is an anecdote, the animator mentioned that there was an exhibition of Professor Kazimierz Śramkiewicz and his son Andrzej, these were very valuable works, but it was decided that they would not insure the exhibition, because no one from outside the Shipyard could enter the Shipyard, everyone had to have a pass and was searched at the gate so, in their opinion, the pictures were safe.
The National Museum collaborated as well by organizing guided tours for employees and, separately, competitions of various kinds for children, so there were a lot of these opportunities. And people used them. Though, when we asked about culture in interviews, the most frequent information was that there were carnival parties, that there were Christmas parties for children, that there was a radio station, mushroom picking, which journalists in turn criticized, that it was no culture, because in fact there was no culture there. Various dangerous situations, caused by alcohol abuse, happened. But it was also a culture that employees treated like their own.
- Because culture is what we call it culture. It doesn’t have framework. Depending on the group, they may say that it is a cultural event for them. Because during large events related to Shipyard’s Day, which we can compare to Miner’s Day, then number of performances, concerts and competitions related to this holiday.
- Yes, dance parties in Straszyn, where the Gdansk Shipyard band used to play. Maritime Days, which were organized at Plac Zebrań Ludowych, an event for Gdansk citizens organized by the Shipyard, promoting maritime culture, competitions for kindergartens organized by the Design Office. There was a drawing competition about the Shipyard, children came by bus to the Shipyard, watched the Shipyard, then drew what they remembered. People who organized the culture were very inventive. I think it was „Letters” that wrote in the 1960’s that everyone who comes to Gdansk passes the Shipyard. However, it is almost not possible to enter it. Anyway, there were organized tours with guides, probably on Saturdays, and then it was possible to enter and visit the Shipyard. But it was for a limited number of people, although several thousand people entered it every year. So there were various attempts to demystify a little what was behind the wall.
For example, transporting the children, organizing some picnics for the youth from the eighth grade, so that they would like to perform shipbuilding professions. It is also happening today, that companies organize such promotional campaigns. For me, the mobile library was a hit, which was an action of the ladies from the library, which was on the premises of the Shipyard. After demolition of the Shipyard House of Culture, it had to move to the Shipyard Worker’s House in Tuwim Street in Wrzeszcz. So, the ladies said that it was too far, people would not come from the Shipyard specifically, they would rather go to the city library, so they decided to come by buses full of books to the Shipyard and lend them directly from the mobile library, encouraging them to return them to the library. Totally amazing idea.
- Going out, approaching people, place. But in such a nice way. I was fascinated by it, I remember this reaction when I saw these paintings, because I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk and I know how difficult it is, at least for me, to go outside and paint outdoors. And I imagined everything, watching these pictures, of course I analyzed everything through the prism of myself, through my experience. You always have to verify it. I realized that there was a need. You are in a workplace where you spend so much time, and then you come and paint. And painting is very defenseless, also very revealing, well, there are various things in painting that you face, this painting somewhere outdoors, especially outdoors, because when you are locked in a studio, it is completely different, but you are so exposed, exposed, it is completely different experience. I was captivated by it, this need. You are in this place, you spend so much time and you still want to paint it. What I perceived was on different levels, later painting took place in different ways. But surely, what fascinated me about this culture, it was that you still need to spend time there, thought you spend so much time at work, you also want to process it. Just like me, we talked about that, what you were taught, I mean techniques and tools, was afterwards used in crafts and in everyday life.
- Yes, the fact that they still wanted to be there after work may be due to the fact that they were very close to each other. Many people use the metaphor “family” when talking about the Shipyard, and this does not mean that everything was perfect, because there were also very difficult stories, but they say „it was like a family”, and they often compare the atmosphere at that time to current working conditions, and they think that now it’s terrible. When they hear the stories of their grandchildren and children about workplaces, they say: „no, some things could not have happened to us, people protected each other somehow”. This could be the reason that they still wanted to spend time after work together, if they could and if the household duties allowed for it. Women were much less likely to participate in these activities, they returned home to look after children, or possibly other dependent family members. But, indeed, they used different skills, shipbuilding materials intended for scrap or getting rid off, for their own purposes. They were extremely creative. There were incidents called theft, because some employees made chess tables out of elements they shouldn’t have made of, and they were reprimanded. Besides, these metalworks that supposedly hung in many houses – I haven’t had the chance to see them – with the panorama of Gdansk, were also gifts from godmothers for ship owners and captains of ships. It is amazing how big was the need to transform a painstaking, repetitive work, into something beautiful, into something they thought was beautiful and was an expression of their inner need.
- They also made money in a very interesting way. Or they didn’t even get paid, they just gave gifts. My mother’s brother, who worked in the Shipyard, made a beautiful metal pendant for her and she still has it today. For me, it is an interesting combination of skills that you acquire at work and that you start to transform them into some kind of craft, but very creative, that you create something else.
The hour is almost over. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. There are a lot of topics that we can touch with Ania. What Ania does is not only „Metropolitanka”, but also an application that is expanding, „The Shipyard is a Woman”, and I encourage you to take part in walks around the shipyard, to learn looking at the Shipyard also from the female point of view, what is the part of this project. I think we should do a separate meeting about women.
- Of course. I would like to say that if any of you have any contacts, knows someone, we are constantly looking for information. I know that many things end up in the garbage after the death of the Shipyard employees, and this is also very unpleasant, but their families often do not realize the importance of it, or the parent’s work in the Shipyard was associated with various memories, so these things are lost. So, if someone of you ever finds something, or you hear about someone worth reaching, whether she worked in gardening, was a cleaner on a ship, or worked in management, they are all pieces of the same puzzle. We are researching all the time.
- Thank you, Ania, for agreeing to participate in the meeting at such an important moment for me. I’ve just started sharing “Shipyard After Hours”, my harvest, with you, the viewers. I learn new things, break some kind of barrier to contact with you, ladies and gentlmen. So I am very grateful to you for being with me. And I also invite you to the next meetings. If all goes well, I’ll see Dorota Karaś and Marek Sterlingow on April 11, and there will be more meetings later. If you have any information, as Ania mentioned, we will be grateful for sharing. We collect really weird stuff.
- Yes, for example, I was able to see the vases of the Shipyard Guides Circle, although we didn’t take any, we didn’t have space to store them, but such things also happen. Plates marked with logo of the Shipyard. These are amazing objects. Thank you Iwona for the invitation. I always like to tell shipyard stories with passion. This is a story that will probably never be told to the end, and that is probably also its charm. Not to mention the fact that there are other shipyards in Gdansk, as well.
- Of course. That is why I say that this is the endless topic. Surely what I have learned is sharing information and facilitating each other, if it is possible, in this search.

“After Hours” – a series of oil paintings exhibited with reproductions of shipyard workers’ works.

Reproduction format: 25 × 38 cm, photographed by Michał Szlaga
The format of my paintings: 27 × 38 cm
The installation was created during the second International open-air for Young Artists “Shipyard – a Look from Outside/Confrontations
August 21-31, 2004, Gdańsk Shipyard

Project description from 2004:

When I was recording conversations with shipyard workers as part of preparing templates for the „Shipyard” mural, the stories of shipyard workers began to reveal a lost world, the world in which they spent their youth, the best years of their lives. They worked very hard, but they earned some of the best wages in the country. They were proud to be in the yard. They often stayed at work „after hours”. Their whole world was here. In halls, offices and cloakrooms, I found amateur paintings painted by shipyard workers. I learned that the Association of Amateur Artists operated in the shipyard until the 1980s. There were exhibitions and the paintings themselves were innumerable. I only made twelve. Private collections scattered around the houses left the shipyards.
When watched in place, until the time allocated, I was moved by the files of emotions, personal associations and memories. They reached all my senses. Painted to the sounds of the shipyard, accompanying the work of shipyard workers, saturated places tell about it, they arise far from sterile museums, they invariably touch me. From those that I found, I chose a file and made reproductions of them in the 25 × 38 format. Condition them with my works painted in the shipyard (27 × 38 format).
In order to get in touch with the present day, create works using a computer, camera or digital camera.
Mostly I don’t have time to enjoy nature, for meditative painting outdoors. Outdoor painting is a thing of the past, it is unattractive compared to contemporary art. But somewhere deep inside me, there is a little girl who likes to mix paints, she likes to smell their consistency. Often when going to my studio, I looked at the shipyard and thought about setting up with the easel in the open air. The work of the shipyard workers helped me to make a decision and thanks to this I created a series of paintings entitled „After Hours”.
Outdoor art embarrasses me. It bares all my imperfections. It is very personal to me. At the time when I was studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, I was very envious of the amateurs of the primal need of painting. Undergoing education, I began to fear my painting. I am defenceless in it. I find support in the work of people who, just like me, were fascinated by the beauty of the shipyard. The current plant layout overlaps with my pick-up experience. Nature takes away its industrial character. The shipyard becomes overgrown and becomes a green park with strange installations instead of sculptures. It is changing its face, ships are still being built here, cranes are still standing on the quay, the shipyard has not died down yet, but you can see that it is slowly transforming into an open-air museum, a place of disintegration and the emergence of new things, not necessarily related to the shipyard.

After hours

„Shipyard After Hours” is a project aimed at the memory of the Gdańsk Shipyard to the disappearing heritage of the artistic legacy of shipyard workers, associated with the Association of Amateur Artists. The association operated until the 1980s. I undertake to physically capture the symbol of the test and culture of the shipyard culture as technologies that build Gdańsk identity. The education of a painter as a painter allows her to navigate smoothly through the broad registers of this issue. In my research, I am helped by the fact that for sixteen years I had a studio in the shipyard, I was active in the area, and my work was related to the shipyard. An impulse to work on these riddles was created in 2004 by the painting „After hours”, in which he presents his paintings together with reproductions of the shipyard workers’ works. I unsuccessfully searched for authors and authors through the shipyard radio and the local press.

Implemented as part of the scholarship program of the Ministry of Culture National Heritage and Sport of the Republic of Poland – Culture on the Web.

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