Adam Kossowski

Adam Kossowski (5 December 1905 – 31 March 1986) was a Polish artist, born in Nowy Sącz, notable for his works for the Catholic Church in England, where he arrived in 1943 as a refugee from Soviet labour camps and was invited in 1944 to join the Guild of Catholic Artists and Craftsmen.

Working from a studio in Hampstead (6 Frognal Gardens), Kossowski composed work for his first show in London, entitled "A Polish Soldier's Journey", which opened on 7 June 1944 and consisted of new drawings and some he had made during his difficult sojourn in the Ukraine and on through to Palestine. 

The drawings produced in the course of the three years of the artist's life thus absorbed, are notable for showing, apart from a real power of interpreting the local character of each scene, a rare sense of the dramatic, the gift of effective silhouetting being particularly characteristic. We see here well exemplified the profit which the artist (who long taught mural painting at Warsaw Academy) derived from his protracted studies of the frescoes in Rome and Assisi. Figure-drawing, of a very incisive kind, inevitably comes much to the fore in scenes which succeed each other on the walls of the exhibition, but many of the impressions of landscape, here displayed, will also remain impressed upon the spectator's memory. Altogether, this is an art very much in the best Polish tradition, and with an individual note definitely its own.

After winning a prize for the oil painting Jesus Bearing the Cross (also known as Veronica) in 1944, Kossowski was invited to join the Guild of Catholic Artists by its chairman, sculptor Philip Lindsey Clark.

This connection, in turn, led to Kossowski's first major commission from Fr. Malachy Lynch, prior of The Friars at Aylesford, Kent: the seven-panel History of the Carmelites of Aylesford in tempera.

Kossowski's first large ceramic project, a Rosary Way, also came as an Aylesford commission. When the artist suggested that he may not be "the man who should do that", Fr. Malachy replied, "Adam, I am sure Our Lady has sent you here for that purpose." Kossowski later commented on this project:

Looking at these Mysteries now, and remembering the agonies, the frenzies and delights of this spontaneous work, I think my inexperience and technical near-impudence contributed much to the freshness and simplicity of these works which, I hope, redeem some of the shortcomings.

When the Rosary Way was successfully completed, Kossowski received "the biggest ceramic commission that I ever had till then", The Vision of St. Simon Stock. Kossowski recalled:

At that time I had already had some experience with the famous old Fulham Pottery which was still operating. They were quite ready to fire for me the larger pieces of ceramics in their old-fashioned kiln, one not used anymore elsewhere, heated by coal and coke. They could get only one temperature and one kind of glaze. You could not make any changes and I realized that every piece could be fired only once. So I had to put the colours and the glazes and the body in one firing only. It was a miracle that it came out quite alright, with very few small cracks. And the temperature had to be very high - at least 1200 degrees.

Kossowski also worked on a number of ceramics for the National Shrine of Saint Jude in Faversham, Kent, which was run by Fr. Malachy's brother: Fr. Elias.

Kossowski's creative relationship with the Aylesford Carmelites lasted from 1950 to 1972, where he created about one hundred distinct pieces of art "in ceramic, tempera and oil painting, mosaic, wrought iron, and stained glass."