Polska by the Sea

11 - 26 April 2009

An installation of photographs at Eastbourne Station by award-winning photographer Lisa Barnard - plus text and interviews focusing on the lives, stories and reflections of Polish people living and working in Eastbourne and Sussex. The project was developed with the support of community organisation Polskie Eastbourne and offered an opportunity for Polish people to tell their own stories, speak about their lives and describe how England looks through their eyes

The exhibition celebrated the contribution made by Polish migrants to life in smalll town England.

Photographs by Lisa Barnard.  Text drawn from interviews with Poles living in Eastbourne by LLL's Artistic Director, Mark C. Hewitt.

www.lisabarnard.co.uk | www.mchblank.co.uk


Lisa Barnard was born in 1967 and lives in Lewes. She completed a BA in Editorial Photography with First Class Honours in June 2005 at Brighton University. Her work is informed by members past and present of The Institute of Psychoanalysis, London, particularly those who have explored psychoanalytic aesthetics. She has recently concluded a year long Photographic Residency at the Unicorn Theatre for Children. She continues to work on her own artistic practice, which is connected to both the fine art and editorial genres. Her work has been reviewed in The Daily Telegraph and The Observer. She receives regular photographic commissions, including portraiture, advertising,editorial and educational projects and is a visiting lecturer at universities in London and the south east. Her show, Virtual Iraq, won the Danny Wilson Memorial Award at Brighton Photo Biennial Fringe 2008. She is a Senior Lecturer at University of South Wales in Documentary Photography.

Right: photograph of Lisa Barnard with Jol Grus, Eastbourne Station, 2009 »

More about Lisa Barnard »


The collection of 24 postcards created for Polska by the Sea are now available as an attractive boxed set.

The cards feature photographs by Lisa Barnard of domestic ephemera evoking - in a range of ways - the idiosyncracies and Polish roots of the interviewees that took part in the project.

The postcards are made to be used as actual postcards with a reverse side that can be used for sending a message in the usual way. Each reverse side also contains a snippet of text drawn from an interview with one of the Polish people that participated in the project.

Right: postcard image by Lisa Barnard »

Buy the boxed set of postcards online

Interview texts

Mark C. Hewitt is Artistic Director of LLL Productions. As a writer, he has specialised in cross artform collaborations with visual artists, photographers, composers and others and frequently uses interview as a means of developing text for a project.

For Polska by the Sea, Mark interviewed a range of Polish people living and working in Eastbourne, mainly the current generation of young economic migrants who have come to Britain to find work and opportunities work but also older Poles who arrived as child refugees in the aftermath of World War II.

"“I bought a flight and told my parents I was going to England in two months. They thought I was joking. There was a lot of tears at the airport.”

“My first job was in a hotel. And I served English breakfast. I knew something about English breakfast because when you learn English at school you get to know bits of the culture but when I first saw it it was gross. It was just horrible: the sausages and the bacon.”

“I speak to them everyday. Sometimes three times a day. They day, ‘Have you had enough of England? Don’t you want to come back? You know we love you.’ I say ‘I know you love me but, no, I’m not coming back."

"If anyone asks me about my favourite English food I’d always say English breakfast. And traditional tea with milk. I like milk. A lot of milk. Sometimes half and half.”

“My generation were the first Polish children to grow up here, and most of us fitted in very well. But our parents found it hard. Doctors had to retrain; they couldn’t just start being doctors again; lawyers couldn’t practice law at all unless they retrained, you had generals washing dishes in hotels …”

“I was born in Poland. Now I’m English.”

Right: photograph of Mark C. Hewitt by Jol Grus, Eastbourne Station, 2009 »

Mark C. Hewitt's artist website »


This project kindly supported by Southern. 

Financially supported by Awards for All Big Lottery Fund and East Sussex Arts Partnership.

With thanks to Polskie Eastbourne and Miriam Miklaszewska.

Photographs in gallery (below) by Jol Grus (photo shoot and launch event) and Lisa Barnard (installation and post card images).