POLISH rollerblading photographer Marcin Lewandowski has been living in Cork with his partner Kinga for the past 16 years, ever since they became enchanted with pictures of Ireland they saw online.
The 41-year-old, who has a five-year-old son, Jolan, is heavily involved in the arts scene in Cork, both in a work capacity and in a volunteering role. Marcin also has his own photography website soundofphotography.com.
Marcin and his family foster cats and dogs and currently have two rescue cats, Slayer and Tofu.
“We had an old English sheepdog, we got him when he was nine and he died at nearly 17 years of age. He was an awesome dog, white with blue eyes. My partner Kinga gave him mad haircuts, he was well known around town.”
The Polish photographer also helped out with the LGBT community during the Marriage Equality referendum, taking photographs that were used in promotion and advertising campaigns.
Marcin says that after being in Cork 16 years he has acquired some Cork traits that appear to be evident to others, although somewhat of a mystery to himself.
“Every time we go to Dublin they know we are coming from Cork, so there must be something!”
Marcin said he and his family moved 11 times since they arrived in Cork before settling in Rochestown.
“We had a lot of random landlords, we have a lot of funny stories.”
Marcin said that Cork inspires him and his work in a number of ways.
“Cork inspires me with its unique topography and demography as well as closeness to water and the constantly changing river and skies.
“I love the RiverLee, especially in the evening and at night at high tide. It is a very vibrant city where it’s easy to meet people, a unique labyrinth of narrow one-way streets, especially around the city centre and Shandon where we lived for many years. Its relatively easy to get everywhere, even on a bicycle.
“There are very nice outdoor areas in close proximity to the city and Cork also has a very vibrant cultural life with great galleries and festivals. Some of the best food places I ever visited are in Cork.”
Marcin also said he liked Cork as it is very easy to find people and avoid people at the same time. “It is a maze of little places. It is not a gigantic city, but tremendous activity.”
As well as these things, Marcin is a big fan of the skateparks.
“I have been rollerblading since I was seven. I get a lot of looks for rollerblading! People look at me as if I am an alien. I stopped doing it as much when we had our child. Your whole life changes when you have a child, there are a lot of things you no longer have time for. I used to go a couple of times a week, now I go at the weekends with a small group. We go to the skate parks, on the rails and ramps, I do a lot of stunts. I get a lot of injuries. I am always limping, I have never broken anything but I have a lot of bruises!”
In Poland, Marcin played competitive sports, including archery and fencing.
With his family, Marcin said he enjoys walking by the coast.
“I am going to miss that for the next six weeks.”
In terms of his plan for lockdown, Marcin said he will try and stay active and play games with his son.
“I don’t want to get locked into negativity. I play a lot of board games and card games. Our five year old can play a lot of games, he gets the rules and likes to participate. They are good family activities.”
Within his local area, Marcin said he likes Garryduff Woods and the Mardyke skatepark, although he said this could do with being upgraded. “The Blackrock greenway is another great amenity. You meet a lot of really nice people there.”
Mr Lewandowski says that while he misses Poland, Cork has become home.
“Cork is our home now. After so many years and building own family its hard to look at it this way. I miss certain places in Poland, like I definitely miss the high mountains and vast woods but as I said, this is our home now.
“I miss the climate, the dry continental climate, but it is not everything.”
Marcin said he and his partner of 20 years, Kinga, would love to live further out West, but said from a business perspective it did not make a whole lot of sense.
“We are very happy in Rochestown, it is close to the city and the country.”