Sylwia Narbutt

  • Poland (b. 1978 in Warsaw)
  • Currently in London, United Kingdom.
  • Polish artist, curator, co-founder @InlandProject, lives and works in London.


  • 2014
  • Oil on Canvas
  • 40 x 50 cm
  • 40x50 cm it is a size of each painting.

  • Selection of paintings from MOTHERLAND series.
  • Motherland - thumbnail

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    MOTHERLAND | 2014

I use the icon of the Black Madonna which has been intimately associated with Poland for the past six hundred years. Its history prior to its arrival in Poland is in numerous legends. The icon is claimed to originate from St. Luke who painted it on a cedar tabletop from the house of the Holy Family. I am especially interested in this picture, a small reproduction of it used to hang above my bed in my family home. I remember being scared of it because my granny told me a story that if I was naughty the scars on the Madonna will grow and she will be in pain, and then the whole country could be in trouble. So the image of Black Madonna is significant to me. The whole history of it is fascinating. The Madonna presented on the original picture is sad and worryingly looks onto the eyes of viewers. I am also looking at this from a different angle – this painting wasn't created in Poland, Madonna comes from abroad – her assimilation is total as she has become the symbolic queen of Poland, loved and preyed to by millions. I am looking at my assimilation in the UK. Finding my way and my new identity. I am revisiting my culture and background to construct my new reality as a Polish Briton. I've painted several pictures inspired by Black Madonna. The picture of Madonna with baby Jesus is so deeply ingrained in our societies Catholic culture that it can be conveyed by the profile alone.