Like many Polish immigrants, Ryszard Wojciechowski fell in love with the nature and people of North Vancouver. Fortunately for us, he left behind a rich legacy of sculpture, painting, and poetry that immortalizes his creative will and spirit.
Ryszard gave form to his experiences and feelings through pieces that are, as art critic Bozena Kowalska noted, “incomparably more mindful—without sacrificing liveliness”.
Born in Sławin, Poland on January 3, 1939, the eldest of seven children of a farming family, Ryszard’s artistic qualities were quickly recognized in elementary school. His teachers encouraged him to develop his talent at the fine art high school in Lublin, and then later at the Fine Arts Academy in Warsaw.
Ryszard distinguished himself with originality and artistic vision in sculpture as well as painting, graduating with distinction in 1964. That same year, he married fellow artist Anna Jung and joined a worker cooperative creating beautiful shop displays and other public works.
His sculptures, including Jump Rope, At Dawn, and Chords of Fame received numerous awards in Poland, including Gold at the National Festival of Art in 1968.
Ryszard’s passion for working with different materials and mediums, combining disparate techniques continually expanded his craft. He incorporated found and salvaged items into smaller works such as seashells, coral, hardened lace and other textiles, a technique he would continue throughout his life. He led open-air workshops around Poland, constantly innovating his style and sharing his craft. Ryszard produced a huge range of items, some over 4.5 metres tall, as well as tiny figurines for pendants.
Journey to Canada
The Wojciechowski family grew restless behind the iron curtain and decided to extend a sabbatical in Italy, where they spent three years. During this time they made the difficult decision to start a new life in Vancouver. Ryszard continued making art in Canada thanks to the help of a one-year immigration sponsorship from extended family and the use of a workshop from a friend. Although he received several commissions, including the City of North Vancouver, Ryszard struggled to provide for his family which resulted in a period of instability.
Despite various hardships, Ryszard pursued his artistic vision with vigour and passion. Along with other Polish artists and art lovers in the area, he co-founded Under The Wings of Pegasus, an artist cooperative which brought together various disciplines (music, painting, sculpture, poetry etc). The goal was to showcase lesser known artists and find mentors for younger ones.
“The human being…a complex beauty, a Great Nature defined by a corporeal shape, the inner self enriched by the profundity of its rebirth. In it, the vibrancy of spring, the scent of flowers, the gold of the sun, love and birth – suffering, pain, tears, fear and heroism are mirrored. In time it carves deep furrows. Expressing the human person is the essence of my art.” – Ryszard Wojciechowski
Many of his works now adorn private homes, and his charisma is remembered by those that knew him personally. Ryszard continued to work until his death in 2003. He understood his talent as a gift, which needed to be lived up to with spirit.
Learn more about the life and art of Ryszard Wojciechowski on his website.
City of North Vancouver Public Art Commissions
— Belweder North Shore Polish Association, 15 September 2021
MONOVA welcomes editorial contributions from a variety of communities and organizations in North Vancouver. To learn more, reach out to us at 604-990-3700 (ext. 8007) and firstname.lastname@example.org.
We rely on contributions, monthly or one-time gifts, to help MONOVA safeguard and expand our community’s archival and museum collections, build learning experiences and inspire future generations.
Donations are accepted through the Friends of the North Vancouver Museum & Archives Society, Registered Charity No. 89031 1772 RR0001.
We respectfully acknowledge that MONOVA: Museum and Archives of North Vancouver is located on the traditional lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, whose ancestors have lived here for countless generations. We are grateful for the opportunity to live, work and learn with them on unceded Coast Salish Territory.