In this excerpt, Marek writes about his father, the science-fiction author Jerzy Zulawski, after watching one of the most famous televised moments of the 20th century: the first man on the moon (it was Neil Armstrong, fact fans). I've done a partial translation of On The Silver Globe but Jerzy's books have never been published in English.
What English readers can see though is the anarchic film adaptation that Andrzej Zulawski directed based on the first two parts. It's one of the most 'out there' films you might see and has a fascinating story behind it too. - AZ.
'The Baptism of Jesus Christ' is a massive painting by Marek in Our Lady's Church on Lisson Grove in St John's Wood. This memoir entry from 1980 is about my dad's initial talks with Father McGowan to get the project going. The painting was completed in 1982, just three years before his death, and it's still there today. Although my dad wasn't around for most of my upbringing, Our Lady's Church was a regular feature - I always looked up at that painting and thought of him whenever I had to attend. - AZ
I’m waiting to hear the decision on an important matter for me, very important indeed.… Keep reading
I think my dad wrote this part in the 1970s, so perhaps those 40-odd years made it more melodramatic in his memories than it really was. He mentions his local was The Mitre which is right at the bottom of Ladbroke Grove - these days, that’s considered more a part of Holland Park. A lot of this part of west London was much rougher before WWII, particularly Notting Hill, but these days it’s all pretty fancy. - AZ
It was 1937. I, a young artist who’d recently been abandoned by his wife, had been milling around in the horrible emptiness of my studio in Ladbroke Grove.… Keep reading
Marek made a trip to communist Poland in 1979 and I found the story pretty entertaining. I’m very familiar with today’s Warsaw, and comparing it with my dad’s frustrated experiences and impressions put a smile on my face. Although Poland is no longer communist, it still has lots of hangovers from that era, and you still encounter the odd story like the one below today… – AZ
Warsaw, which I only got to know once I had grown to be a young man, always struck me as a little exotic, but now even more so than back then. On the one hand, it’s the excruciating, dull bureaucracy and the exaggerated politeness, while on the other, the exceptional loutishness.… Keep reading
Earlier in 2014, the Tate Modern in London put on a fantastic retrospective exhibition of Richard Hamilton’s work (I snapped this post's main image, "Epiphany" 1964, while I was there). I was unfamiliar with his art but left the gallery hugely impressed, particularly by Hamilton’s sense of humour. To my surprise, I came across a review by my dad of Hamilton’s Tate exhibition in 1983 (now the Tate Britain) in his autobiography. I can’t seem to find any reference to the dog show he mentions unfortunately – I’d love to see footage of that. – AZ
The Hamilton exhibition at the Tate.… Keep reading
… Keep reading
Marek worked at the Polish section of BBC Radio for decades as an art critic. That occupation, along with the books he wrote on the subject and actually being an artist himself, meant he was, unsurprisingly, quite opinionated about it all.
I don't know if The Times ever published the letter he quotes. I hope so, as then there'd be a written record of my dad's use of English, rather than just my translation. Throughout his memoirs, he quotes several letters he wrote to The Times and The Observer. He was a bit of a busybody by the looks of things.