Kraków to Kyoto: a costume drama


When I visited my niece, Marie, in New Zealand a couple of months ago, I noticed that she had an old drawing of mine.  In fact it must be my oldest coloured pencil drawing in existence.  My mother had bought me a set of 72 Derwent pencils in 1979.  I sketched my Polish dolls and gave her the drawing as a thank you present.  When I saw the framed drawing this year I was heartened to see that the colours still looked pretty good after 36 years even though the student-grade cartridge paper itself showed signs of its age.

I was given my first Kraków costume when I was four years old.  Didn’t I love it!  I wore it until it was worn out.  Then in 1970 when Mum, Dad and I visited Poland, I was given a second Kraków costume.  I still have it – though the shiny bits don’t shine the way they used to and bits of it are missing (but could easily be replaced) such as ribbon to tie the bodice.


My Kraków costume was surely a blessing from a benevolent fairy godmother.   It has been instrumental in developing my appreciation of the drama of costume.  Its invisible presence is behind every kimono, obi and kanzashi that I draw.


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13 thoughts on “Kraków to Kyoto: a costume drama

  1. sherrytelle

    How wonderful to see your old drawing on the wall of a niece. It is nice to know your work even the old stuff is appreciated! I was surprised a few years back when my sister showed me a box full of hand drawn cards I made for her kids throughout the years, she has kept every one. I loved seeing your Krakow costume, there is such amazing detail in them, and it is great to see that your choice of subject matter and process began way back then.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Sherry, it IS nice to know that one’s old stuff is appreciated. I had totally forgotten about this drawing so it was such a surprise to see it again. Isn’t that lovely about your box full of hand drawn cards which your sister had kept.
      And once again, may I wish you a happy birthday (for tomorrow).

  2. anna warren portfolio

    Isn’t it interesting to see how deep our enthusiasms go – clearly you have always enjoyed the rich colours and patterns of costume. Whether this was sparked by the gift of the first Krakow costume, or whether you enjoyed that so much because of an intrinsic love of colour who is to say! There are clear indications of your present attention to detail in that early drawing – it is charming, no wonder your niece has proudly kept it on her wall. (Love the new drawing below too.)

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Yes, my enthusiasm for costume goes very deep and far back. What an irony, then, that I don’t like dressing up nowadays. I always want to dress casually no matter what. The most difficult thing about going to an ozashiki for me is that I have to try to find a way to look nice!!!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Thank you, Diane. Yes, I must say, as a teenager in New Zealand, one of the most exciting things I can remember is when colour television came in and my parents bought one. That was 1975. I do love colour, you are right.

  3. Tomasz Rusinowicz

    Dear Julia.
    There is very nice to see you as 4 years old girl in costium from Kraków.
    Than you,

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      How exciting for me that you have written me a comment, Tomek. It is lovely to hear from you. I still have the Polish dolls which you sent me around 1997 or 1998. They are displayed in our lounge. I enjoy them every day. My Polish heritage is important to me.

  4. occasionalartist

    What an interesting insight into your love of costume and how fascinating to see how it has influenced your current art. I love your old drawing, I still have a couple from high school I did, I never throw out a picture. By the way I will be in Perth in the next couple of weeks for work. I hadn’t a clue I would be coming when I mentioned my desire to visit, but I certainly jumped at the chance when it came up. Karen

  5. Margie Macalpine

    Hi Julie Just want you to know how much I love your regular posts on your journeys … I also love to look back on the old ones. Love to you both, Margie x


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