A LONG journey has brought Monika Kalbarczyk from her homeland of Poland to her new home of Gisborne — longer than the more than 18,000 kilometres between the two. On the way she tripped around Canada where she met the Kiwi partner who eventually convinced her to return to the land of his own birth. Now — nearly two years after her arrival — she is traversing terrain of a different sort.
More than a decade after dabbling as a teen, Kalbarczyk has restarted her journey as an artist, something she says she could never have done in her former life as a self-critical journalist.
And she has invited others to join her, this week opening her debut exhibition of pastel portraits and life studies.
If they accept, they will have to do so with an open mind . . . many of Kalbarczyk’s works have a tight focus on the female nude.
“Naked is how we are made, it is who we are, and I really love the beauty of the female body,” the 26-year-old said.
African models, too, feature large in her collection, the artist saying she is drawn to subjects who have experienced much in life – not all of it good.
“During my travels I have constantly been inspired by people and their stories,” she said. “Depicting them like this is my way of showing respect.”
Kalbarczyk is hoping to get New Zealand residency but in the meantime says the support she has received in following her passion for art had been a real vote of confidence.
But she does stress that, well travelled as she is, she is only at the beginning of her journey as an artist.
“I am a little nervous about how people will respond but, to be honest, any response is better than none,” she said.
“I guess I’ll just wait to see what the reaction is and then go from there.”
■ The exhibition featuring works by Monika Kalbarczyk opens at Verve Café tomorrow (7pm).