Józef Figiela is an unconventional figure connected to the underground post of the strike in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk in August 1980. For many years Figiela manoeuvred between two passions and two vocations: he was a captain of maritime shipping and a graphic artist. In 1950 he graduated from the State Maritime School in Szczecin and in 1964 he also gained a Master’s degree in the State Higher School of Fine Arts in Gdansk. For almost three decades he alternately sailed and worked as an artist.
In August 1980 he was supposed to go for another cruise, when the strikes in the shipyard broke. Figiela eagerly joined the protests. In order to support the strike’s ideas, the sailor-artist decided to use his creative abilities. On 20 August he created his first linocut. It presents a hand clenched into a fist (symbolising a fight), Gdansk’s coat of arms, and some nautical motifs. The copies in the form of a stamp were done on the envelopes and postcards in the white-and-red, Polish national colours.
During the strikes, Figiela created 4 seals, which were copied on a couple of hundreds of cards and envelopes. All the linocuts are characterised by a remarkably precise execution and high artistic values. The artist also drew his daughter (by that time a 15-year-old) Dąbrówka into the oppositional activity. She created her own seal (also very interesting graphically), as well as she helped her father with creating the copies for dissemination.
- Grzęska, Poland
Author(s) of this page
- Tołłoczko-Suchańska, Barbara
Stocznia Gdańska im. Lenina, Michał Guć, Gdynia 2017 (unpublished text, shared by the author in July 2017).
Guć, Michał, interview by Tołłoczko-Suchańska, Barbara, July 19, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection