Polish artist honours banished Lemko ancestors in Luton art exhibition

After graduating from Bedfordshire, Karolina went to Royal College of Art
After graduating from Bedfordshire, Karolina went to Royal College of Art

A Luton-based artist is holding an exhibition which explores the history of her ancestors who were banished from their homeland.

Karolina Lebek, 28, a former University of Bedfordshire student, will display her new work at the Storefront, Bute Street, from tonight (February 21) until March 24.

Watra

Watra

Her free exhibition, Watra, is the latest in Luton Culture’s ‘As You Change, So Do I’ commissions and Karolina’s work will explore themes of migration, displacement and assimilation informed by her Lemko ancestors’ experiences.

The Polish artist said: “The importance of cultures co-existing whilst retaining their own language and traditions couldn’t be any more relevant today, especially in a town as diverse as Luton.

“This exhibition is about the nature of consciousness and transcending an image of a community that is applied by external forces, against violence or social injustices.”

The Lemkos are an ethnic minority who were violently and forcibly removed from their Carpathian Mountains homeland during the 1940s, using worship and singing to maintain cultural identity.

Watra

Watra

Karolina’s installation, which “merges sound, video and photography”, is inspired by the ‘watra’ - a large bonfire, that evokes past memories or revives a sense of community.

The name also belongs to the biggest annual Lemko festival in the world, held in the Carpathian Mountains.

The show opens tonight at 6pm and Karolina will be speaking with curator Matthew Shaul. On March 24 at 7pm she will be performing an audio-visual set with Scottish artist, Susannah Stark, expanding on the exhibition’s themes to close the show.

Normal opening times are Thursdays- Saturdays 1pm - 6pm.