Category Archives: it’s a sign!

I spy with my little eye…. a Polski!

Best Polish murals

Image via wykop.pl

Image via wykop.pl

I love street art. I went to Berlin a few months ago and took hundreds of pictures of their murals.

But having seen this gallery, I think I should be visiting my homeland more often for a bit of awesome (well, mostly) street art.

If you are into street art – and possibly art in general – have a look at Natalia Rak‘s website. She is a prolific (and classically trained) Polish street artist and painter. Some of her murals are incredible and incredibly detailed. Her latest mural – called “The legend of the giants” – was unveiled recently in Białystok in the north of Poland:

Image copyright: Natalia Rak

Image copyright: Natalia Rak

Isn’t it just beautiful?

Got any other examples of Polish murals? Let me know.

Street neon signs in Cold War Poland

Kino Ochota neon - image by Monika Kostera via Flickr (CC licence)

Kino Ochota neon, Warsaw – image by Monika Kostera via Flickr (CC licence)

There are certain childhood  images, experiences and smells you tend to remember for the rest of your life. For me one of those experiences was the view of the now demolished sports hall we passed in our car on the way to visit my cousins.

It was a big (at least big in my eyes) building with a curved roof which looked a bit like an oversized trilby with its brim curved upwards. Or at least that’s how I remember it. The architecture was quite striking. But the building’s real feature I still remember to this day was its ‘mobile’ neon sign.

As the hall was primarily used to host basketball matches, the neon sign was created to resemble a bouncing ball which an invisible hand placed in a basket at the end of the three- or four-second sequence. It was mesmerising.

As you drove past the hall, you would wait for the ball to appear in its initial position. The neon would then go off and the ball would reappear a split second later slightly lower, then higher, then lower again. Eventually the ball would end up above – and then go through – a neon basket.

And all these balls were linked by a thin neon light which blinked for that split second between the different sequences to express the ball’s movement.

And the Poland I remember was full of such neons. We often thought they were rubbish – not as elaborate as the Piccadilly Circus neons, not advertising any Western brands – but looking back at them now I often think they were small pieces of art. Sometimes on purpose, often probably by accident.

A few months ago the BBC website published an audio slideshow featuring some of the remaining Cold War neons (click image to open the slideshow in a new window).

neon

A Polish photographer, Ilona Karwinska, is on a mission to save them and she talks about the neons in this BBC piece.

Her website features some lovely images of the surviving signs, she also set up a Neon Museum in Warsaw:

muzneonu

Really lovely stuff, despite all this sentimentality.

Shame the modern signs and neons are so boring and less imaginative. No more bouncing balls….

It might be April Fools’ Day…

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… but this one, despite its hilariously abstract headline, is apparently true:

German women flock to Polish hair salon heaven

Had to go for the bold headline. So, according to expatica.com,

A village on the Polish-German border is becoming a hotspot for German bargain hunters seeking cheap haircuts. It may only be a small Polish village of 200 inhabitants but each week hundreds of German women beat a path to Osinow Dolny, which claims to have the greatest concentration of hair salons on the planet.

OK, now read the last bit again:

the greatest concentration of hair salons on the planet.

Wait, it gets better:

Demand from German women coming for a blue rinse, a perm or just a tidy trim has been so great that the number of salons has not only grown but those already established have expanded into prefab huts, next door premises or even their gardens. Others have also branched out into other services, like manicures and facials.

So the Polish entrepreneurial spirit is alive. And you know what? The credit crunch is virtually unknown there:

And there is no sign of a recession here. The salons are all busy, catering for a never-ending stream of German customers, particularly in the morning — meaning that many open for business at 7:00 am including on Sundays.

There are some occasional hiccups, but every pensioner needs a bit of fun every now and then:

Language problems sometimes make it difficult for salon staff to grasp exactly what is required but business is booming nonetheless.

And here I was, thinking that my last week hammer-throwing post was the most hilarious thing ever….

The gorgeous and hardly related hair salon picture © Old Shoe Woman via Flickr, used under Creative Commons licence

Teraz Polska – Poland Now

If you ever see this logo on any Polish products, you can be sure it’s something of a really good quality, something Poles are really proud of. ‘Teraz Polska’ (literally: ‘Poland Now’ or ‘Time for Poland’) is a national competition, in which brands, products, producers – and recently also individual city councils – compete for the title of the best in their respective field.

There have been 18 editions of the competition and you can find the Teraz Polska logo on a really wide range of products – from vodkas to sausages; from spices and healthy food to men’s suits; from software to roof tiles.

Almost anyone can nominate, but the final choice is down to a group of experts who test the products and award the TP title. The Teraz Polska title acts as a stamp of approval of the product’s quality, but also opens the door to new markets.

During my recent trip to Poland I was surprised to see how many products, even as basic as margarine and cheese bear the Teraz Polska logo. Which I guess, from a consumer point of view, is very reassuring. Although I also liked this variation of the logo, a bitter comment on our favourite national passtime: