So Lucky? - Tadeusz's Violin
Forensic Investigation

'When I play the violin I get taken over by an unseen force, I can play anything.' 

Tadeusz Kubisa

 

This forensic investigation of Seran Kubisa’s Polish Grandfathers Tadeusz Kubisa’s Violin and bow will be the artist’s 7th forensic investigation and 2nd large scale arts project to follow on from ‘Treasure Island: A Forensic Investigation of a City’ winner of the Arts Council and SEEDA award for innovation. 

 

Objective 

 

To retrace the journey of Tadeusz Kubisa’s Violin and bow from origin to migration. The main time frame during WWll and including moments from the1920’s and up to the1970’s. The main event is the tunnelled out escape from a detention camp in 1939 Hungary and epic journey by foot across Europe to England of Tadeusz with his Violin. The battles of the Polish 1st Armoured Division and the retrieval of a high quality bow in fallen Germany. The Violin and bow united in Scotland and England. 

 

The result is a project of the highest quality to inform various art outcomes, a multi-media response, exhibits and public art during the development to final stages. 

Potential Artworks depending upon venues site, partners and artist's response

  • Artworks from scientific examinations of forensic size  fragments created with the confocal laser microscope 

  • Multimedia film for exhibition, cinema and architectural projections incorporating scientific artworks, film, archive film, documents and photography

  • Site-specific sound and light installation

  • Multimedia light-boxes

  • Exhibition imagery, archive and text work

  • Website project archive 

  • Sound, music and film collaborations

  • The artist response will reveal the traumas and the human's capabilities to transcend this through music whilst capturing the mystery of her Polish heritage

 

Partners: 

  • Poland, England, Scotland, France, Holland, European and Canadian ​museums, exhibition and Cultural Centres

Project to date:

  • Interview with Tadeusz's sons describing the escape from camps in Hungary to Scotland and the history of the Violin

  • Retrieval of Tadeusz war records 

  • D-Day Stories Museum U.K have translated Tadeusz's war records from Polish to English. Tadeusz's escape stories are  factually verified in his war records

  • Forensic size fragments collected from the violin, violin case and bow. Six fragments analysed with the confocal laser microscope and artworks created

  • The Violin displayed with photos in the D-Day stories museum and the story shared with Princess Anne and the Lord Admiral at the official opening

Project 

Stage 1 Investigation and material collection:

  • Development of the artist's response to the collection of sounds, fragments, photographs and videos from the artist's visit to Tadeusz's village of Siewierz in Poland' and surrounding region

  • Record the Violin being played once more with Polish folk and classical music

  • Artwork samples produced  

  • Research WWII history and Polish history

  • Research with war historians the escape journey and the Invasion of Normandy 1st Armoured Division

  • Research with psychologist specialist in PTSD and sound

  • Produce the artist's response to the first stage of research

Stage 2 European wide forensic ​fragment collection and investigation​:

  • Retracing of the escape route to collect fragments, photography, film and sounds from the Violins origins and locations travelled in Poland, Hungary, France, England and Scotland

  • Record the Violins origins, absorbed environmental sounds of the migration routes and places passed through

  • Fragments collected from Tadeusz personal objects and Polish village

  • Follow the route of the 1st Armoured Division of the Polish Army from the Invasion of Normandy in August 1944, through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany to collect fragments, photography, film and sounds

  •  
  • Fragment collection from the bow's origin

  • Archive of sites, artefacts and fragments collected. Memories and historical facts catalogued

 

Stage 3 Artwork production potential: 

  • Forensic examination of collected fragments and creation of artworks using confocal laser microscope technology

  • Multimedia film for exhibition, cinema and architectural projections

  • Site-specific sound and light installations

  • Multimedia light-boxes

  • Exhibition imagery, archive and text work

  • Website project archive 

  • Sound, music and film collaborations

 

Stage 4 Exhibition and touring:

 

  • European cultural exhibitions 

  • Events with investigation locations 

  • Website complete 

  • Educational projects

 

Examined will be:

  • ​Transcendence qualties of sound whilst playing and listening to the violin 

  • Psychological effects upon Tadeusz and the subsequent intergenerational effects of this trauma PTSD

  • Psychology of music

  • Survival and the will to live 

  • Symbolism of the violin for Tadeusz

  • Heritage 

  • The violin as a symbolism of protector

  • Music to mentally escape and feel alive during and after trauma

Fragment collection and examination of objects and sites:

 

  • The Violin, bow and case

  • Tadeusz's music sheets 

  • Tadeusz's artefacts and books

  • Polish 1st Armoured Division objects maps and signs

  • Poland- Tadeusz's village of Siewierz, Kraków and region

  • Hungary WWII detention camp and surrounding area

  • Places on route of his escape journey Hungary, Germany, France (To be researched)

  • The Polish 1st Armoured Division preparations, battlegrounds, places liberated in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany 

  • Arbroath, Scotland 

  • Bath, England

Sounds collected and recorded from:

  • The Violin - Polish and Eastern European Folk and Classical music

  • Sounds of the violin being made

  • The walk and escape - night and day nature and sea sounds

  • Recordings of Tadeusz and his wife singing

  • Sounds from Tadeusz village and places lived in U.K

  • Sounds collected at sites of the escape and the Polish 1st Armoured division battlegrounds and places liberated

  • Sounds of WWII

Artist's first visit

This will be the artist's first visit to Poland to find her Grandfathers village and meet family that still reside there. This will enable the investigation and artwork to capture a powerful moment.

Tadeusz's Journey

Tadeusz escaped the war camps of 1939 in Hungary by tunnelling out and took with him his violin encountering an epic journey. A journey by foot across the Alps to Brittany, France. As part of the British sea evacuation of troops from France he had to go to Dunkirk to get to England. At the battle of Dunkirk they couldn't get near due to the heavy fighting so four of them together continued up the coast and at night stole a fishing boat. In the English channel a Naval Destroyer picked them up and took them to Portsmouth, England. From there he was sent to the camp in Abroath, Scotland with his Violin in tow. 

 

The Polish regiment regrouped at the Polish army camps in Scotland. Tadeusz was In the 1st Armoured Tank Division and they fought with the Canadians in the 1945 D-Day landings and Battle of Normandy in France. At  Falaise most of his company were killed. They continued onto Belgium, Holland and Germany where he found  a bow with exceptional quality which he brought back to Scotland with him.

Many of his platoon died on this first route, many died escaping after Dunkirk, and then at Falaise in the battle of Normandy many more.

The violin stayed by Tadeusz Kubisa's side and travelled with him on his escape. As described by him, to play music was “beyond life” he felt like “I am taken over”. The violin was cumbersome, carried on his back a heavy fragile object through forests, mountains, cold, rain and encounters with the Nazis.

Tadeusz Kubisa's thick Polish accent and dominant but lively personality are etched in Seran's mind along with the sounds of the violin and bow being played. As a child she accompanied him to the Polish club in Bath where he played the violin whilst laughter bellowed out and drink flowed. She remembers his uplifting state of fun and musical bursts to downturns of dark moods and of her being afraid. For the rest of his life he suffered from the unrecognised and undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Seran has witnessed the handing down of this trauma into the third generation.The first part of this investigation has revealed the transcendence of music played on th violin and the intergenerational mental wounds of war, death and deceit.

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© Seran Kubisa 2019