„Clothes” and „undresses”, creating masterpieces
Although her adventure with regional creativity began quite recently, Mrs Marianna Pokora’s products are artistically mature, precise and extremely refined. She began with small and simple forms, starting with knitted angels and Christmas Tree star decorations, to more sophisticated designs but they came out great, intricate and truly sleek so Maria boldly moved onto larger and more complex forms. That was with a great success! During a handicraft workshop at the primary school that she works in, one of the instructors told her “You have a knack in your hands” and this is how it all started. After a few trials with small crochet forms, she boldly took up the leluja crochet pattern. Nowadays, her nimble hands create some real masterpieces, staring with crochet portraits of the Virgin Mary through leluje, to floral bouquets. How are her pieces created? At first, she transfers her idea onto a square paper by drawing a cross pattern, ,then she converts it to bars and – as she’s saying – she ’dzieje’ (meaning she crochets). She does it every day while sitting in a rocking chair, crocheting calmly, stitch by stitch. She also ‘deconstructs’ fresh flowers, trying to imitate nature in her precisely made cornflowers, asters and dandelions.
The family of Marianna’s husband, Mr Józef Pokora, was associated with the Kurpianka group and he was its member in the 70s of the twentieth century. Therefore, that regionalism and love of the tradition rattled somewhere under the roof of their home. Perhaps that was the reason for Marianna Pokora to have courage and try, and soon after master the difficult technique of crocheting and eventually bring it to perfection.
Marianna comes from a Kurpie village Szafarnia and she also used to live in Kadzidło for a while. Her life ‘moved’ her and her husband to Ostrołęka. ‘Kurpianity’ was always in her, this is probably why she started creating for herself and for others. She threw herself into creative work, making flowers, crocheting, preparing dishes – all based on the tradition. She says that ‘Kurps are in her heart’.
She lives in an ordinary apartment block but there is an honorary place there for family heirlooms: a reel, a cradle and a beautiful Kurpie cross. She owns a folk costume, which she readily dons, especially for festivities. Marianna is an example of a proud return to the Kurpie identity, manifested through her folk creativity as well as through wearing her folk costume on special occasions.
She likes to share her knowledge and skills with the local community in Ostrołęka, therefore she conducts numerous workshops in primary and secondary schools, to include workshops for the teachers. She collaborates with the Local Tourism Organisation, exhibits her products during the Kurpie Honey Harvest (“Miodobranie Kurpiowskie”), Niedziela Kadzidlańska as well as in Kazimierz Dolny. After only a few years of activity, she was awarded the Ostrołęka Prefect’s award for the presentation of her achievements during the ‘Following Kurps’ event.
Her creative interests are broader than just creating products with a thread and paper. She intends to implement a special project – recording dirges during a real funeral because, as she says, the eldest are passing away, and with them the tradition of singing dirges, the lyrics of which she writes down. She has written down in her notebook the dirges from Strzałki village, amongst others. The planned project will require tact and sensitivity but Marianna continues to interest others with her idea for an unique documentary about a traditional village funeral.