Aldona Kmiec is the second in our series on artists and the forces that inspire them. Born in Poland, she arrived in Australia permanently in 2009.
“I’m from a very small place called Biezen, near Czestochowa in southern central Poland.
“I was passionate about art in general, music, ever since I was two, three, four-years-old. My parents bought me a few musical instruments because I could play what I could hear, so I learned how to play the piano accordion for a couple of years. I just brought this piano accordion last year to Australia intending to learn it again but so far it’s just parked on my bookshelf, looking at me everyday.
“I loved paintings, although I’m not a painter. Rather than have curtains I painted an image on my window, painted the whole window in rainbow colours. I experimented a lot. Reading, reading, reading a lot of books in different languages – Russian is my first language. It sparked my imagination. And of course nature – I grew up in the countryside with a lot of forests and green spaces around me. All of those things really contributed to me being very curious and inquisitive about the world.
“We had an old Russian (brand) LOMO camera called a Smena and I was fascinated how it worked, and my dad told me how to load the film… it had an old plastic rangefinder – it was a pretty nasty camera but it was interesting.
“I had to learn a few basics, my father taught me a few things. When I was a teenager I had a number of disposable cameras and I would photograph people at parties. I have them archived in Poland still. I grew up in that era when people didn’t use mobile phones, or have mobile phones. Now there is all this instant demand for response.
“I love Magnum Agency photographers. I was fortunate enough to meet a few in person. I love photojournalism, I love Cartier Bresson, I love Robert Frank, American photographers, street photographers, Japanese photographers. I love something that’s timeless, I don’t particularly look for anything. I have memories, for example, of Paris in black and white on cloudy day, so I’m inspired by pictures that have fog in them, maybe black and white more than in colour. I love Trent Parke, the Australian photographer who shoots on film. Everyone should know his work. I love the portraiture of Michael Cook, the indigenous photographer. There are some in Canberra in the Parliament House that are amazing and I’m sure they have inspired some of my recent work.
“I’m inspired by looking around me, by multiculturalism, by social issues, by where Australia is in the world, by its locations. I’m still developing my personal style. I love looking at Instagram, but I’m not looking for images. I’m trying to find the essence in what I’m seeing around me, drawing from my memories and the country and the travel I’ve done, the books I read and the people I meet. You don’t really need to go onto the internet.”
You can see more of Aldona Kmiec’s work at her website: http://www.aldonakmiec.com./