Изабелла Годлевская де Аранда

12 июня 2018 года в Мадриде в возрасте 86 лет умерла Изабелла Годлевская де Аранда. Художница, скульптор и архитектор, вдова посла Испании Эдуардо Арандо Карранза, дочка сенатора Йозефа Годлевского и Фабианы (в девичестве Гуттен-Чапской), правнучка Эмерика Гуттен-Чапского, заслуженный сотрудник музея его имени и Национального музея в Кракове, а также королевского замка в Вавеле.

Святая месса в память о ней и о её сыне, скончавшемся в Лондоне 21 декабря 2017 года будет отслужена в костеле Святой Барбары в Кракове 28 сентября в 17.00, о чем сообщают дети Изабелла Аранда Годлевская и Йозе Рамон Аранда Годлевский вместе с семьёй.

Izabella Godlewska de Aranda was born on 18 December 1931 in Synkowicze (modern day Belarus) as the third (after Karol and Krystyna) child of senator Józef Godlewski (1980-1968) and Fabianna Hutten-Czapski (1895-1974).

After the Red Army entered Poland on 17 September 1939, the Godlewski family moved to Kovno, which at the time was the capital of (at the time still independent) Lithuania. They then made their way to Riga, from which they set out for Paris via Stockholm and Brussels on 28 January 1940. In the town of Coëtquidan, Józef Godlewski – a military officer and an experienced sapper – helped organise a Polish army camp. They did not stay there for long – after France fell in June 1940, the Godlewski family moved to Marseilles, and then to Great Britain via Spain and Portugal in October 1940. Upon arrival, Józef Godlewski enlisted as a quartermaster in the Polish Army, while Fabianna Godlewska, fluent in English, ran (as part of the Polish Red Cross and the Polish Air Force) a convalescent home for soldiers in Kraighall, Scotland. Izabella Godlewska spent that time studying at Kilgraston Sacred Heart boarding school in Perthshire.

The Godlewski family settled in London after the war, and Izabella enrolled as an architecture student at Oxford. After graduating in 1955, she found employment at a London architecture firm owned by Oliver Chesterton in. She also took painting lessons in London from Kazimierz Pacewicz (1895-1974), a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow and a student of impressionist Józef Pankiewicz.

Изабелла Годлевская де Аранда родилась 18 декабря 1931 г. в городе Сынковичи (современная Белоруссия) третьим (после Кароля и Крыстыны) ребенком сенатора Юзефа Годлевского (1980-1968) и Фабианны Хуттен-Чапской (1895-1974).

После вступления Красной Армии в Польшу 17 сентября 1939 г. семья Годлевских переехала в Ковно, которое в то время было столицей (тогда еще независимой) Литвы. Затем они добрались до Риги, откуда 28 января 1940 г. через Стокгольм и Брюссель отправились в Париж. В городе Коэткидан Юзеф Годлевский — офицер и опытный сапер — помог организовать лагерь польской армии. Там они пробыли недолго — после падения Франции в июне 1940 г. семья Годлевских перебралась в Марсель, а затем в октябре 1940 г. через Испанию и Португалию в Великобританию. По прибытии Юзеф Годлевский поступил на службу в польскую армию в качестве квартирмейстера, а Фабиана Годлевская, свободно владевшая английским языком, руководила (в рамках польского Красного Креста и польских ВВС) домом для выздоравливающих солдат в Крайгалле (Шотландия). Изабелла Годлевская в это время училась в школе-интернате Kilgraston Sacred Heart в Пертшире.

После войны семья Годлевских поселилась в Лондоне, и Изабелла поступила в Оксфорд на архитектурный факультет. Окончив его в 1955 г., она устроилась на работу в лондонскую архитектурную фирму, принадлежавшую Оливеру Честертону. В Лондоне она также брала уроки живописи у Казимежа Пацевича (1895-1974), выпускника Академии изящных искусств в Кракове, ученика импрессиониста Юзефа Панкевича.

“Little memories” from childhood
I was born in Kresy, in my parents’ estate. The estate was called Synkowicze, it was near Słonim. It was a small estate compared to some, after all it was after the First World War, after my mother’s family had lost their large estates near Minsk. I mean Stańków and Przytułki, where all the famous Czapskis come from. But there are still the estates of the Pusłowski family, I mean my grandmother’s. My grandmother must have split it in 1920 or 1921 between her son and both daughters. Every sibling had around 400 hectares. More or less. And my retired uncle had even more because he was also a son. I left Synkowicze when I was 7 years old, so these are obviously my childish memories. I remember my pony, I remember my 10-year-older brother laughing at me mounting the poor pony to learn how to ride, its name was Siwka. Karol would slap the pony and it would dash forward. I remember one time we were rushing through the orchard, I had long hair and I was screaming. It must have looked very special. And so these are my little memories. I also remember there being a horse, its name was Wiśnia, which I was allowed only to mount I believe, I don’t think I would have been able to ride it at that time. And I later found out that they had to kill it. Perhaps that is why I could mount it, they were sure it would not move. But I later recognised the hide, hanging to dry from a building. I remember that perfectly. It made a terrible impression on me. That I recognised it. I don’t know, must have been the colour or something. So these memories are somewhat strange. I also remember the cowslips, which I liked a lot. I loved to collect them. I would walk the fields of course. I was not locked up in the house. I think I was a child that lived the Synkowicze life. I remember there being a brewery, and it scared me because of the bubbling noise it made. I remember walking up the stairs, someone was propping me up I’m sure. I could see everything bubbling in there. It scared me a bit. And then, well, the end. And mother’s duck as well, she also took care of the farm. And the pigs, they would later butcher them for meat and so on. I was supposed to go to the school in Słonim ran by the Sisters of Mary Immaculate. I was 7 after all, it was time. But up until that time, I had Mrs Korolkiewicz, she taught me in French. She taught me in Polish as well, I’m sure. And I also played the piano. My grandfather had a beautiful grand piano, a beautiful [inaudible] that he brought from Marianpol, what is of course now Lithuania.

Wartime suitcase
There came the moment when the war broke out, I of course had no idea what it all meant, i only knew that everyone would sit around a small beige radio we had. And it was all very important. And I can remember clearly hearing attention, attention, incoming. Attention, incoming. I did not know what it was, what was incoming? But one day I went out to the field, must have been with someone, I never walked alone but with Mrs. Korolkiewicz, I’m certain. There were no other children after all. We went to the potato field. And they were pretty tall. And we suddenly heard something flying. I had not known that sound. And I remember Mrs Korolkiewicz say to me: hide, get down and don’t move. And I… the potatoes must have… there were ditches between where the potatoes had been planted – so I hid there and I could only hear brrrt, brrrt, brrrt. I did not know what that was, but I knew it must have been something dangerous. And again a brrrt, and that was when I learnt what a plane was and what a plane could do. My father then went to join the army together with my brother Karol, so that he too could enlist. That was because Karol really wanted to join the guerrilla fighters in Słonim, so I remember mum calling my father, who was in Warsaw – he was a senator – asking him to come and take Karol with him so that he would join the army, not the guerrillas. She was afraid that would happen. So father came and took him. Chauffer Piotr with a beautiful, black [0:01:48.6 unintelligible], who had a red ruler, they joined the army. So we stood there, mum and I, and just waved them goodbye. It was nothing unusual for me, a normal trip. It later turned out that you could not do it anymore, that you could not join the army anymore, too late. It must have been in early September, before 17, that’s for sure. But a few days later, the car returned, Piotr was alone, without father and my brother. I remember that moment, the drive-in was a bit lower than where the house was. So you could see from afar all cars coming in from the road. And I remember my mother say oh, dear God, what happened there? Nothing happened, thank God, but since they could not join the army, they went to the Pusłowski estate, which was near Pińsk, in Pieski. It was beautiful and big. There were of course forests and lakes, total wilderness. The estate had been known for a long time an there were many interesting buildings and so on. So that is where they found family, older generations, my grandmother’s brother – Pusłowski – with his wife, aunt Titina, who was Spanish actually. So that was a sure thing. Well, we sat through the war there. Because it’s a blitzkrieg and the war will not last more than 3 weeks and everything will be fine, mark my words. We just have to sit here quietly and it will go away. But when my father came, he could not agree with that very optimistic way of thinking. So he sent chauffer Peter to get me and my mother. And mum said to me: well, here’s your suitcase, for the first time in your life you have to pack whatever you consider important for you. So you’ll need some underwear, dresses, not many – it was a small suitcase – but you need to do this yourself. So of course I took what I thought was important, but I can clearly remember that the first thing I took was my Cracow dress I had got for I think Christmas in 1938. And that was the most important thing in life for me. So it went with me. It went into the suitcase. And we went to Pieski. The entire family was gathered there and they would hold family discussions that I knew nothing about. They eventually decided that we had to run.

From Romania to Lithuania
We’re going, but by what? Everything was closed, and we were far away from everything anyway, so cars would need fuel. And it was decided that, since there was a brewery in Pieski, just like in Synkowicze, just like everywhere else, there were breweries. There were potatoes growing everywhere and people would make alcohol. And I remember that my father signed, being a senator, the brewery and the alcohol belonged to the state, so he signed a document saying that he took so and so many barrels of alcohol, and we had a lorry that my brother was supposed to drive. He was 17 at the time. And mum had that wonderful torch, which was a thing of magic to me. It had a red membrane so that you could not see the light from above. And he drove the alcohol lorry with that torch with red light. Sometimes, you remember the strangest things. So off we went, the lorry was very important. It was our car. I mean my father, mother. We also had Piotr, who went to Vilnius with us. Mrs Korolkiewicz stayed, she was not with us. Franciszek Pusłowski also came by car and then Uncle [0:01:13.2 unintelligible] with Aunt Titina. They also had a car. And we would stop by any friends we were passing by. Father would try to convince them to flee. I remember visiting the [0:01:25.0 unintelligible] and they said that they could not, they had their laundry hanging out to dry. And they could not just leave it like that. It was normal for me, a really important reason. So we went, and we arrived, we were supposed to go south, to Romania. And I remember standing in a wonderful avenue that you could often find in various estates in that part of Poland. Linden avenues. Beautiful, huge. Totally closed, so old were those trees. And we just stopped there to rest. And we could suddenly hear it. There was little traffic. There was no road traffic, but we could hear a car, an engine, and my father, together with the rest, flew out into the street instantly and stopped a military car. And a Polish officer told them that the Russians had invaded. So it was September 17. And that we would have to pack our things and run. Northwards, actually. Not to Romania as it was no longer possible. So we backtracked north. And I even remember passing by Synkowicze. I remember my father asking mum: Would you like to stop by? Do you need anything? And she said: no, no, no. Life comes first. We crossed Lithuania to Vilnius. Even before we arrived in Lithuania, I remember the men listening with their ears to the ground for engine sounds, and they could hear the tanks coming. Which meant that they were getting closer, 20 km or so. So we wanted to get to Vilnius as fast as possible. It was in the evening, I don’t know if it was the evening or night, but it was dark, so it had to be late, and Lithuania was illuminated. Lights and banners everywhere. They thought we were Russians, but we crossed the country and somehow got to Vilnius. The first thing we did was go to our aunt’s house, who had left Vilnius, and we moved into her flat. And we left the car in front of the building, together with the lorry, which was very dangerous. Spirit. And the cars ran on that spirit. Shortly after, I think on the next day, I don’t think it was the same night, but very shortly after, the Russians invaded. I remember the tanks, I remember the sounds they made, the vibrations you could feel indoors. It was so strong. So physical. The sound is terrifying, especially for a child, but for adults as well I think. And so it began that since 8 o’ clock you could not move around Vilnius anymore. They knew my father was a senator of Nowogródek and he was wanted, so it was very dangerous. They knew about him, about his station, his family. It was normal.

The war, Vilnius and marzipan animals
So we are in Vilnius and the times are of course tough. The Russians came, robbing everything in sight. You could move around till 8 o’ clock, but one of the reasons for that was, at 8 they would go into all stores and ransack them. So of course there was a food shortage. There wasn’t any food. But we all had to get by. So I remember that my mother had survived the Russian revolution and had been through something similar, identical actually. And I was sent to school to our school, so as not to waste time. And I remember contracting scarlet fever there. There was no food, and I remember clearly that, where I slept, in my bedroom, there was a cupboard full of marzipan animals. Various pigs, ducks, simply magical.And I would have to eat those various animals, which I considered to be absolutely beautiful. But still, from time to time, I would have to eat that which I loved so much. And mum would go out with a head scarf, I remember it well. I think I still have it. It was red with dots, it was a very common-looking head scarf. It was red with somewhat dark purple dots. And she would carry alcohol. A one-litre bottle of alcohol in her pocket, to the Jewish district. So that she could trade it for bread. It was very dangerous. If they had found out what mum was doing, they would have shot her on the spot. It was difficult for us to grasp, but the thing with the Russian invasion and army was, life was totally worthless. As a value. Shooting someone meant nothing for them. That was simply something they thought they should do if someone did something they thought the person should not have done. So, she would go to trade alcohol for bread like that. And later for cabbage as well, mum would go out dressed like that. To trade for cabbage. And so that was our life. The men, my father and Karol would hide at different places every evening. At our friends’, so that they would not have to stay in one place for long.People snitched a lot, unfortunately. The Russians would enter people’s homes, the secret service, checking who lived there. I heard that they would often knock at the door at 2-3 AM and interrogate everybody, who was who and so on. And who was where, it happened all the time. I remember it once happening to us. But how it went, how we survived – that, I do not remember. I doubt father was there at the time. He could have been away. Though there were other men who would come instead of father. They all did everything they could to avoid being identified at a place. Now, mum never cared about her jewellery. Of course we had our family jewels, but the most important ones stayed locked in a safe in Moscow. Moscow was the place with all the banks, everything was safe there. So the most important jewellery of the Czapski family remained there. But mum had a few brooches, little brooches. Nothing important, but she wanted to preserve what she had. So I remember that well, I thought that was extraordinary. Where could you hide them? They had a wood-burning stove in the kitchen, so there were wood logs there. So they picked one of the logs and cut it open and drilled a little, and mum put a little wad of cotton wool in there and hid a brooch I really liked. Amethyst leaves. Nothing particularly valuable, but I found it beautiful. I remember her putting it on the cotton wool together with a few other things, and they sealed the log with the piece they had cut out, and just put back onto the wood pile. But they used the logs from that pile for the stove. It must have been November, and the thing we did not want to happen, happened. The log was thrown into the fire. And before they realised what happened and took it out, the brooch became all [unintelligible] and white.

From Latvia to Sweden
We went to Latvia, and something unusual happened again. I’m going back to Stańków and the revolution. Stańków was a beautiful, huge estate. 30 thousand hectares, I believe. Beautiful, even field. And a fleet of planes landed there, I don’t know how many, but those were not communist planes, those were Russian planes. And that was their headquarters. It was a beautiful field, wonderful planes. Well, the pilots and crews. And they lived in Stańków. One of those pilots fell in love in my mother’s sister. His name was Baszko and he was [0:00:45.2 unintelligible]. Nothing came out of it, absolutely nothing. Aunt Ziunia was 17 at the time, or 16. And she was totally oblivious. She was very beautiful and very, very kind, I heard. She was sweet and everybody loved her. And it turned out that that Baszko, the same Baszko was head of the Riga airport. So father went to see him immediately. The situation got very dangerous at that point. He wasn’t able to help us, the airport was already in German and Russian hands. Exactly so that nobody could leave. The traffic was enormous because many Jews were leaving that way as well. And everyone who could run away from the Russians, because we were running away from them specifically. Because it was them who invaded our lands and then Vilnius. We did not know about the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. And so Mr. Baszko told father that the only way out would be to dress as a porter. At the time they still carried people’s luggage onto planes. So he should dress as a porter and get on a plane and stay on it. And we would have to find a way to get through the obligatory inspection to leave. Without father. Brother was 17, he was handsome, tall, strong. I remember standing in a queue and noticing two young strangers. I remember them clearly, one of them had a black leather jacket. I’ve grown to hate black leather since then. He looked very threatening. And the other man was probably dressed similarly. So my mum comes and of course they had told me beforehand: remember, don’t say a word. Not a single word. Don’t ask any questions and don’t answer any. Be quiet. Stay calm. Mum held my hand so I was calm, and I had my brother behind me. And they looked at Karol and then at his passport and said: haha, 17 years old, haha. He looked, well… older. I can’t remember if he answered anything, but he came with us and we reached the plane. The plane was very beautiful because it was orange. We got on the plane and saw our father seated, I looked at him, a little frightened, because he had a leather jacket, a little worn and dirty, and wore a leather cap so that they could not see him well. Father wore a moustache, like many Poles. It looked normal, and he would only wink at me. So I sat down next to mother and stayed quiet. I became scared. We set off and then landed. We ended up in a tiny hotel and I remember drinking delicious milk. And mum was happy because we were free. Even the air in Stockholm was freedom.

In Paris with the Polish Army
We then took a train to Malmö, then to Kopenhagen and eventually to Paris, to the Polish Army of course. The army had already been gathering there. We lived at our cousin’s, Ksawery Grodzicki-Lubecki, who had a flat in Paris. And there was enough room for everybody. And grandma was also there, she had fled Poland with Uncle Emeryk, not with us. She took the same northern route. And we all ended up in Paris, at Uncle Bogdan’s flat. War had reached Paris as well, the Polish Army was fighting on that front. Karol was there too, it was unusual how organised it was. There was a Polish school he signed up to, or was signed up to, I don’t know how that functioned. So that he could pass his secondary school exam. He was in his last year. So he attended the school while father was in the army. And mother, since she spoke fluent French and English, she was asked to take care of the officers’ wives and children. Those that were in France. It was the Polish Red Cross, but I know the Australian branch also contributed somewhat. A house was rented in Biarritz. We went there. Mum and I. Father was in the army, Karol was studying in Paris. And mum took care of the house, and there were those ladies who would immediately step in to help with everything. In the kitchen, doing the cleaning. Because their children were out there, that was why everybody did their best to make it all work. France eventually fell. Dear God. What now? There was no way to find Karol. What happened to him? Nobody knew. Karol was in Paris, he stayed in Paris. Father was [unintelligible]. We had to flee once again. The army that everyone wanted to join somehow, to reach it, moved to Great Britain, and Great Britain was waiting for us to come. And we were supposed to get to [unintelligible]. The Polish Army was being evacuated using, let’s say various ships. And [unintelligible] was the port where a ship for the army was supposed to be. So we get to [unintelligible], of course women were not allowed on those ships. They were for the military exclusively. But the military uniforms still had capes, as far as I remember. So they borrowed those capes and the women covered themselves up with them and that was how they got on board. But the ship was too full. So we didn’t get on.

The last stage of escape: Great Britain
In [unintelligible], we got to Lourdes, to think things through and pray. We then got to Marseilles, it is a port. And there was a tonne of Jews there. Mum spoke Yiddish, she would eavesdrop on them. And she learned that the best way to get a Portuguese visa – you could get a Haitian or Belgian Congolese visa. And with Portuguese visas we could go somewhere. But we needed the visas to get to Portugal. We drove across Spain with passports that had been tampered with, I don’t know if they had been outright forged, I do not remember anymore. But I know that it was tough, it was very risky and costly. And that is how we got out of France, the Vichy government had already been imposed, and we got to Spain. Spain was very hot and there were lice in the carriages, I kept my hair long so it was all very unpleasant. But we got to Portugal, to Lisbon. And we found out our grandma was there too, with Uncle Emeryk. We lived at a boarding house and it was like, everybody went where they could. So my grandma wanted to stay as far away from the Bolsheviks as possible. She had lived in Lubianka during the revolution and it was a terrible time for our lands. So she chose the United States with the girls, I mean my cousins, and we, the military of course, went to Great Britain. I forgot to mention that we prayed so much in Marseilles, in Lourdes and then in Marseilles, we would walk those very tall, steep stairs of Sacre-Cour and pray for Karol, where was he, where was he. We found out through the Red Cross that Karol had taken the northern route to Scotland, together with the army. And that he was with the army in Scotland. So that was when we began our escape through Spain and Portugal. To get on a ship with the Polish Army. It took us three weeks to go around Ireland and we ended up in Liverpool. And I remember, on that ship, the first thing I noticed. When we were docking in. Red double-deckers. God, that was unusual. And all the men, all the soldiers went to the station and went to Glasgow. And the ladies were supposed to go to a centre for families and mothers. To which mum responded with a sound no. And so we also took the train to Glasgow. That is how we got to Glasgow, where the Scots were very nice. And mum again worked for the Red Cross at a house for Polish families. At [unintelligible]. And father served in the army, Karol was in the army too, near [unintelligible] I believe. We were free, but war was raging and there were of course many difficulties.

At a boarding school
I went to school, just like all the other children of Polish soldiers I think, near Glasgow there was the order of Notredame. So we ended up there, together with the daughter of colonel Cyprian Bystram, who actually fought in the battles of 1920, so it was a kind of continuity, you see, the army and our soul and we fight for what we consider important. But we ended up in [unintelligible] and stayed there until mum found out that Sacre-cour was near [unintelligible]. And since Sacre-cour was a thing in Scotland, mum managed to get me accepted there, and I stayed there for 8 years. And it was there that I learned English, then university and so on. So that I could get a degree. But I lived in the dorm for 3 months. Anyway, it was a very beautiful house, a very beautiful building. I am convinced that it had a huge impact on me, on my choosing architecture. That is why I [unintelligible] they are famous for the doric columns he uses, and the central hall was wonderful with those columns, and there was also another floor with them as well. Topped with a wonderful dome. So it was an everyday thing, we passed through it every day on the first or second floor. The school was great, there were only 60 of us. Very few students. But we could not see our families at all for 3 months. We were taught in groups of 5-6-7. I also had the daughter of General Maczek, Renia. All those years. I also learned how to play the piano, you know, I loved it. It had a wonderful park. The life was totally different. The trees were beautiful, but we could not go for walks. When I became an adult, I started comparing it to a combination of Jesuits and the Prussian army. The discipline was terribly strict. Perhaps too strict, but it benefited me in life later on.

Studying at Oxford an building a garden cress house
The war ends. I am still in school. The exams are coming up, and the decision regarding what to study to have my own life. To be self-reliant. I wanted to play the piano or maybe paint, who knows. But it was decided that no, absolutely not. Because I would be able to have, I hope, have a more challenging career, so I had to put in some effort. So I agreed, and then father said that he believed that I should study architecture. Because I had some artistic talent. I did not really want to go for architecture because I did not really know what it was. But since father said it was a good idea, I agreed. And father said: listen, if, after your first year, you really can’t do this anymore, because nobody knew whether I would succeed or not. I first had to pass all my school exams. So architecture was looming on the horizon. So I pass all my exams and so on, which are actually more difficult in Scotland than in England. The so-called [unintelligible]. It was similar to the French system, I mean the continental system. I got accepted into the Oxford school of architecture, which is small, and that was why it was so good. Because it was a full programme. You can study architecture at various English universities, but only for three years. It’s not a full course, you do not get a full degree. And in at that school in Oxford you could get a full architecture degree, which took 6 years. I was 17 back then, I remember that it was a big accomplishment. And another accomplishment: even though we were all 17, there was two of us in our year who got free paper. It was very nice But then came our birthdays and there was no more free paper. And the anxiety before the first year. Generally, it was not difficult to get in if you had everything that was needed. But to survive the first year, that was not a sure thing. That was when they determined who had talent. That was where the anxiety would step in. Fortunately enough, I passed, studied for 5 more years, and I had to do an internship at an architecture firm in my 6th year, and then pass an exam administered by the firm. So I spend 5 years at Oxford, it was wonderful. I lived at many places, which I had to find myself and rent, making sure they weren’t far from the school. There wasn’t much time, architecture is demanding, you have to draw constantly – like a medical lab, you have to live on site, there was no freedom, you couldn’t drive from lecture to lecture. Everything was in one place. I worked a lot, I had a scholarship so I had to watch out. And I was surrounded by Brits, I was a Pole. That helped a lot. And there was only one other girl in the first year, who did not pass, so since then I was alone with my male friends, the same people for 5 years. It was very good company, some of them had already been in the army, so they were older. I was 17, while they must have been 22-23. So that was a huge perk of that Oxford school. The groups were small. I think we were taught well, no nonsense. It was all very strict, we had to pass exams every year. And they were not administered by the school, but by the Royal Institute of British Architects. They were country-wide. And I managed to survive, and then I went to London to see mother, who was working as a cashier at [ unintelligible] and lived at the Romeros. Mr Romero was a famous diplomat, he was the Japanese Ambassador and a close friend of my Uncle Emeryk. And uncle Emeryk helped Romero with buying a house. Helped a little. Because nobody had the money back then. And together they bought a house at [unintelligible] and that is why mum had, let’s say a right to live there. I graduated from Oxford, so I moved in with mum in [0:04:06.6 unintelligible] and started working at the [unintelligible], which I liked a lot. It was my first job, it was a small studio located in a kind of extension of a building at Kensington Square. It’s a very nice, typically English square. And it was right next to where I lived, too. And well, it was my first job so I found it very interesting. I remember my first building to be a house for people who grew garden cress. Garden cress neds water and the thing was, there was too much water there. I learned how to do it, to make it so as to save as much money as possible. It was my stepping out of the boundaries of the theory of architecture, as well as the requirements of large, important projects, everything was short and small here and very interesting, because it too was demanding.

The colours of Haiti
First we got married, then they started sending us to diplomatic postings. I remember being at the beach in Cádiz. It must have been 1960-1961. Eduardo came in with a blue envelope and said: I got a destino, I have a posting, I’ve been appointed. – where to? Haiti. – ah, wonderful, the colours. He looked at me, grinning. Geography was not really taught well at your school in Scotland. And he would always tease me about it. And we ended up in Haiti. And I was happy. When I was still engaged for four years, I worked and, in the evenings, attended the painting lessons of Kazimierz Pacewicz. He was from the Paris school. He taught me the basics necessary to mix colours in a deliberate way. And what not to do. To not look for the easy way out. So I learned from him everything that I would eventually draw upon when I started painting. I did this so that, no matter where we would be posted, we did not know where we would have to go yet – so that I would be able to work on my own. I knew that, even though my architectural knowledge would always be there with me, I would not always be able to work in the field. I always wanted to paint, anynway. So when we were posted in Haiti, I had this going for me, fortunately enough. And I took all those wonderful colours and everything else that was absolutely necessary. I mean, my brushes and paints. Well, Haiti was a very poor country. There was the ambassador, his wife, he was very kind. An elderly man, and his wife was a bit older as well, an American. There were only the two of them, the ambassador and Eduardo. And we ended up in a boarding house called Villa Rosa, ran by a Yugoslavian woman who was married to an American, who in turn was very into voodoo and so on. It was a small boarding house, 3-4 people. For foreign diplomats like us. We liked it there, but we wanted a house of our own. And so we found a very nice house in the mountains, in [unintelligible] is a nightmare, to be honest. You see the same things all the time. The people there are unfortunately used to doing nothing. They are not used to working, the climate is very hot, and you don’t need as many calories as people who live in colder countries. It’s nice when it’s hot, and if it gets too hot, they sit under trees, under some palm tree and do nothing. And they just wait until the evening comes and it becomes colder. So it’s a very slow-paced lifestyle, it’s different. So we liked it a lot. We got that house and suddenly, I contracted hepatitis B. I got very ill. They even considered moving me to Miami. To which I said that I would not go anywhere without Eduardo. I did not write home about it, obviously, so that mum wouldn’t know, so that my parents wouldn’t know. It wasn’t that I was seriously ill, but I was ill in a country that had nothing. There was a hospital, but I was better off not going there. I contracted hepatitis from a contaminated needle. I was lucky back then. There was this Haitian doctor, a mulatto who had studied in Paris and the United States. And his wife, a Haitian, a beautiful Haitian, also a mulatto, they took great care of me. And the doctor said to me: look, if you want to be well again, I can’t promise you that you will. But if you want to live a normal life again, you need to do as I say to the letter for the next two years. No matter where you are. I am very grateful to him for that. Those were the things that people now know that should be done. But back then, they didn’t. One of them was of course the diet, one thing about it was strange to me, though I followed it – I wasn’t allowed to eat anything that came out of an oven. Everything had to be made in a pan. Very little fat. As little as possible, you see. But not in the oven. And that was how I got well. Thank God, we were moved to Milan after two years. And I was pregnant by that time, in Cádiz. My daughter was born in Milan, but she was conceived in Haiti. I have very fond memories, and my creativity of course. Professor Pacewicz helped me a great deal so that I could do what I considered important in Haiti. I wanted to paint well, see. Not just paint for myself. It also was a country full of colours. So we, as white people, were actually out of place. We did not match those colours. We were so pale, like cottage cheese. I think the colours there had a great influence on me. I fell in love with them, that’s for sure.

“The children don’t belong to any country”
Return to Spain. 10 years in Spain, that was very important. This is where my children Izabella and Eduardo were born. They went to Spanish schools, which are very good. They were Spanish for 10 years. The career of a diplomat is difficult in this respect, if you leave your children at home, that’s a different story. The children often do not belong to any country. Because you are on the move. 3 years, 5 years. Though you might attend a French school in one country and a French school with the same system in another. But there is no sense of belonging to any one country. So fortunately enough, thanks to Eduardo we stayed in one place for 10 years and our children started school, Jose also started attending. Eduardo was in a high position in the ministry as he was the head of servicio externo. It was the interior management of everything external. But not politics. It is tough, difficult, and you need to have a special talent for it. And it’s tough to bear for more than 2-3 years, after that you need a change. It’s just too demanding and too difficult. And after those 10 years, because it was too difficult, they usually say that you can get your first embassy. It’s always a great accomplishment. But since the children were at the age that they were, Eduardo chose, he was lucky enough to be able to choose, the consulate general in London. The consulate in general in London is of course very important. And so, Izabella was accepted into Oxford. Eduardo got accepted into an engineering programme at [unintelligible] college in London, which is probably the best place in England. And Jose attended school. And he was all sulky about having to leave Spain. But he also got accepted into a good school, and he graduated from university and all that. So there’s something left from the English education in our children, which we considered good. So we gave them what we could give them in our normal lives and our diplomatic lives as well.

Józef Czapski, or Uncle Józio
Oh, Uncle Józio was Uncle Józio. I had heard about him from the family talks back in England. I didn’t know him, had never seen him. We were from Synkowicze, and Uncle lived in Warsaw, Cracow and so on. So I only met him after the war. He had an exhibition at Grabowski’s in London. I went there with mother. I remember us being destitute back then as well. But mum did not admire Uncle Józio’s paintings at all. Quite the opposite, poor Józio. And she decided, well, gotta help poor Józio, and she bought him a drawing of flowers. I had not met him yet back then. But later, many years later, he visited us at our home in London, when my father was still alive, and he enjoyed talking with father. They had not known each other too well from the Polish times, as far as I know. So I did not know him at the time. Many years later, while travelling from London to Spain, when I was married, we dropped by [unintelligible], there is a photo of Uncle in the garden, back when I first met him and visited his flat in [unintelligible] for the first time, it was very low, and Uncle was very slim and very tall. So the scale was completely different. And he had those shelves loaded with notebooks above the bed. So it was a typical emigrant’s house, but a house nonetheless. You could feel it. There was this table that was a recurring theme in his paintings. Only I did not know that at the time because I had not seen any of his paintings. The table and a couple of his vases and so on. I remember them. And Uncle was charming, absolutely charming. Absolutely. He called me his child. You see, my child. When I held an exhibition in Warsaw, the Spanish exhibition that came to Warsaw – I must have [unintelligible] and we had a chat. Uncle was not a fan of abstraction. And he was not a fan of striving for abstraction, even though there was one painting of his that I really liked that I considered to be straight up rosco. You could pretty much just leave the red curtain and you get a real rosco. That is because the curtain is huge, and then the people are sitting in three rows and there’s Rostropowicz playing somewhere near. And I remember asking him: Uncle, what did he play? And he responded: what do you mean, that must have been Chopin. I remember that. He later had an anthological exhibition in [unintelligible] and I went out of my way to go see it. He could not walk anymore, was wheelchair-bound. The museum director helped him and he would stop at every painting to look at it. So that is when I got to know him better and had a wonderful experience. Our hotel rooms were next to each other. And the hotel had these small, very French balconies, there was no space to sit, but let’s say you could put a chair there. Those narrow balconies. So our balconies were next to each other, and I was in my room when I heard a chair creaking. So I look out and see Uncle with a pen, drawing the view on the lakes and mountains. I thought to myself: Uncle is doing it and I’m not, well I never. So I sat down too and started drawing the same view. The next day, the view was very dramatic, it was stormy and rainy. And the light was changing. And you could see the waters moving. And I drew that movement with a ruler, it was not a single line, just a series of strokes. Stroke, stroke, stroke. So the next day I showed it to Uncle, I went to just sit down and chat with him. And I showed it to him, and he took a pen. As if he wanted to correct something. And he said: this is a good idea, a good idea. These strokes. As if he wanted to add something. And I foolishly said: Uncle, this drawing is mine. And he didn’t do anything more. But he had his drawing from the previous day, which Mrs. Ronicker, who was taking care of him back then, took to Paris to [unintelligible] and she gave me the drawing, so very light. It was minimal, actually. But very important for me. I have it. It’s the closest I got to Uncle Józio. He wrote a letter to me in which he explained that the abstract does not exist. That there is only nature. Only nature, nature and nature. And for me, natural means the abstraction of nature. This is how it has to be, it can’t be any other way, in my opinion. Like when he had his exhibitions in [unintelligible] – that was 2 years before he passed away.

Meeting John Paul II
It happened after he became pope. Pope Wojtyła. Eduardo was in the ministry and was sent to Rome because some Canary Island saints were being canonised. 5-6 people. So, as a representative of the Spanish ministry, he was sent there, and I was happy to go with him. And I was worried whether I would be Spanish enough to look like a Spaniard. I got a beautiful black mantilla from my mother-in-law, and they are not easy to put on, you need to know how and so on. It was a gorgeous black mantilla. And the comb, that high comb. And I was taught how to wear it. Actually, only the Andalusians know how to wear it. They wear it all wrong in Madrid, they pin it up all wrong. And then it’s not the same. So I learned the proper way, I had a beautiful long black dress, and I was anxious about everything going well. It was a shame that Eduardo really disliked uniforms and all that. He was very moderate. But I thought that he should have worn his beautiful diplomat’s uniform to such an event. Anyway, he did not, he just wore a dark suit. And we were standing there after the ceremony. There were other Spaniards there, and ladies with black mantillas. The pope walked by quickly and everyone greeted him. He came to me, I bowed, but did it very deeply and my heel got caught up in the lining, and I could not get up. And then the pope, who had already been holding my hand, helped me up. It was funny, strange. And I quickly introduced myself, because there was no time to waste talking. And I said, Holy Father, I am a Pole. – What are you doing here? I said I was Eduardo’s wife and the niece of Uncle Emeryk. The pope knew my uncle well. Through Cardinal Wyszyński, actually, because of all those trips through the Vatican, and because Uncle Emeryk was an active member of the Order of Malta. He was the bailiff of the Polish knights. [unintelligible]. So that was the Polish entourage for Wyszyński and John Paul II. And then, for just a moment, it’s this photo that I have, the one where I ask the Pope to bless our family. Then he blessed us. He went on his way. That was my moment with the pope.

Living on a posting and at home
When you are on a posting, there isn’t much choice. When you are at home, in the ministry, then it is different. It’s because when you are at home, you don’t visit embassies. And when you are on a posting, you have to constantly visit various embassies. And it’s so irregular. So you do not get to have any real friends. There are friendships, but they have no roots. So I remember how infuriating this was for me in those embassies, back during the communist times, there were those various ambassadors and so on. And Poland always somehow stood next to Bulgaria. And it was infuriating to me. Because I always thought that Poland should stand next to France, not Bulgaria.

Godlewska pinxit
I can’t be anyone else than a Godlewska. This is not debatable. It’s not that this is how I feel. I am a Pole. I also need to be Spanish in a sense, but only to a degree. I am not a native Spaniard. And I never will be. But I am a Spanish diplomat’s widow, and my three children are Spanish. So I’m sure this does make me Spanish. But it’s more of an addition than ancestry. And I am very happy that my children are native Spaniards, though they are aware that they are also half-Polish. It’s not like my being Polish takes something away from them. It’s the opposite, it gives them something. It’s like they are 100% Spaniards and 50% Poles. It’s a special kind of arithmetic.

Izabella Godlewska de Aranda