Guest 2012.

Gabriela Cichowska [ Poland ]

Gabriela Cichowska was born in Rzeszów in 1984. She studied graphics at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow until 2011, and currently works as a freelance graphic artist and illustrator.

She has illustrated two books written by Adam Jaromir, »Słoniątko« (2010) and »Fräulein Esthers letzte Vorstellung – Eine Geschichte aus dem Warschauer Ghetto« (2012, t: Miss Esther's Last Performance – a Story of the Warsaw Ghetto). »Słoniątko« is the tale of a little white elephant who realises that he's different from all the other elephants, and sets off on a journey from the African savannah, through Mombasa and Amsterdam, to the city of Meissen, famed for its porcelain. The book is the size of an EP and it's story – of an animal looking for a home, recognition and identity – is elegantly designed so that text and image are seamlessly linked. The journal »Eselsohr« praised the book for its »pop-up-like shapes, Eastern European narrative and illustrative styles, and that enchanting whimsy which is so lacking in today's picture books.«

Gabriela Cichowska's second illustrated book, »Fräulein Esthers letzte Vorstellung«, is set in the Warsaw ghetto during the Second World War. Janusz Korczak, director of an orphanage for Jewish children, is forced in November 1940 to relocate to the Jewish residential quarter with his charges. He and Miss Esther, one of his colleagues, succeed in allowing the children to escape from their unbearable daily routines and enjoy moments of happiness and hope with the staging of a play by Rabindranath Tagore. »Fräulein Esthers letzte Vorstellung« deals courageously with a challenging theme for a children's picture book, and succeeds as a child-appropriate reminder of the horrors of National Socialism and the power which love and art can give people, even under the most difficult circumstances.

Gabriela Cichowska's works have been displayed in numerous national and international exhibitions. Her illustrations for »Fräulein Esthers letzte Vorstellung« were on display at the 2012 International Children's Library in Munich. She is praised as being one of the most promising Polish talents, and has won several awards. »Słoniątko« was selected as the most beautiful picture book of 2010 by the Polish publisher's guild PTWK, included in the International Children's Library's »White Raven« catalogue (2011) and awarded the Bologna Ragazzi Award in 2011. The jury said that »Słoniątko« was underpinned by »a masterful style which draws on the wealth of diverse cultures,« and that the book was »an equally joyful and serious homage to the mysteries of childlike perception during those years in which everything is either tiny or huge.«

Gabriela Cichowska lives in Łódź.

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