A Piece of Polish Art in Camberwell

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First summery Saturday of the year and I am spending it at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court. Lucky me. And I mean it in all sincerity for a change, the usual sarcasm to resurface at a later stage.

I encounter two Polish immigrants today. First is a late designer and sculptor, Tadeusz Adam Zieliński whose imposing reliefs adorn the main wall on the second floor of the court building where all the action takes place. It stretches across the length of the building, some 100 metres of wall art. It was the first thing that caught my attention on my first visit to the court many years ago.  My initial thought was that it was slightly incongruous choice for court wall decoration, I looked at it for a while and moved on, and it became no more than a silent background to usual low level crime dramas typical for the area, plagued by deprivation and addiction.What I didn’t know until this morning was that the designer was Polish, a survivor of a Kozielsk Soviet camp associated with Katyn massacre of Polish senior army officers, a soldier in general Anders army during WWII. After the war he settled in England. His sculptures, mainly of religious type are displayed in churches in London, Birmingham but also Jerusalem. The fact that one of his pieces is spread along almost a 100 metres in Camberwell must be less known, as I have not come across any mention or photos of it in any of his online biographies.

Saturdays at court have a definite dress down feel about them, as well as I should be doing something better than this with my weekends. 

No cases are deliberately scheduled for Saturdays, so it’s only last minute overnight traffic that gets to be seen on that day. What follows is that there are not many people around, and those who are there are in a weekend mode, more relaxed and friendly than during the week, less harassed, and happy in the knowledge that they are being paid higher out of hours rates.
It might have been part of this Saturday effect that a solicitor approached me and told me the story of the relief and its author.

Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court is facing closure, possibly as early as at the end of this year. If this happens, the fate of the court building is unknown, but if the local council decides to erect another block of flats in its place, the 100 metres of wall relief  will likely perish with it. Which would be a shame.

Now, I am no campaigner, but wouldn’t it be great if this piece of highly unusual art was somehow rescued by, I don’t know, Polish Embassy?
Polish Cultural Institute?
POSK (Polish Cultural and Social Association)?
Prince Zylinski?
Owners of Mleczko delicatessen?


The second encounter was with Rafal, in the cells of the court. Yesterday Rafal stole a bottle of Frosty Jack worth £3 from Iceland in Croydon and assaulted a security guard who challenged him. Rafal cannot remember anything about the incident due to high level of intoxication at the time.



Further information about Tadeusz Adam Zieliński, Polish only, with photos of his art:


Camberwell Green court closure:


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