Ken Sequin’s Polish Adventure

Showing at the Kemistry Gallery in London is an enticing display of Polish posters from the 1960s. The collection belongs to designer and artist Ken Sequin, who acquired the works in 1964 having secured £200 for a student research trip to eastern Europe

Showing at the Kemistry Gallery in London is an enticing display of Polish posters from the 1960s. The collection belongs to designer and artist Ken Sequin, who acquired the works in 1964 having secured £200 for a student research trip to eastern Europe…

Sequin went to Poland and on to Czechoslovakia using a travelling scholarship from the Royal College of Art, as he explains in the booklet that accompanies the Kemistry show, which is on until March 22.

Franciszek Starowieyski, Heatwave

F. Trokowski, The Quest for Green Metal, theatre production

As a third year student his intention was to research the animators and poster designers, such as Andrzej Wajda and Jan Lenica, whose work had fascinated him while studying in London.

Having bought a camera, Sequin reckoned he had enough money for a three week trip. He caught a ferry to the Hook of Holland and from there travelled by train to Berlin and then on to Warsaw where he arrived during celebrations for the 20th anniversary of Polish Socialism.

Marian Stachurski, The Man from the First Century, Czech film

Jan Mlodozeniec, 20 Years of the Polish Arena, pageant

While attempting to meet his idols proved fruitless, Sequin did manage to get his hands on a selection of posters from Warsaw’s poster shop – along with a handful of editions from the basement archives of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Prague.

His haul included work by Lenica, Roman Cieslewicz, Waldemar Swierzy and rare posters by two of the most prolific female designers from the period, Liliana Baczewska and Anna Huskowska.

All the posters made it back to London and were either kept in storage or on display in Sequin’s flat. When he later moved north to take up a teaching post in Yorkshire, the posters formed a single exhibition at the college. Sequin returned to London in the 1990s and now in fact lives very close to the Kemistry Gallery.

So this is the first outing that his collection has had for a long time – and it is well worth a visit.

Jerzy Flisak, Where is the General, film comedy

A special mention must also be made of the way that the gallery has framed Sequin’s collection. While the technique, sandwiching the fragile printed works between two panes of glass, isn’t new, it certainly works beautifully here – suspending the fraying paper towards the ‘front’ of the frame so that visitors can get a closer look at all the detail and colour.

Ken Sequin’s Polish Adventure is at the Kemistry Gallery in east London EC2A 3PD until March 22. More details at kemistrygallery.co.uk. Mike Dempsey’s blog contains a good selection of Sequin’s own design and illustration work for Corgi and Penguin, among others – see mikedempsey.typepad.com.

Franciszek Starowieyski, Thérèse Desqueyroux, French film

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