I grew up in a small village in Poland during the fall of communism and the start of democracy. Our family nearly lost everything during WWII.
When I was a kid, nobody had much money to go out. Our social life happened at a house or while working, or on a street outside your home. No internet or phones, just close-knit community. I had a second-hand piano accordion. Together with my childhood friend, I would play to anyone who was passing by.
As a child I made a promise to myself to learn foreign languages, and to one day leave my village to explore the world. It was a ridiculous dream, but it was my dream. The world I grew up in was the world where men played cards, women cooked food and children listened to stories about the war, memories veiled in a thick smoke of cigarettes. I wish I had a camera back then, when I hid behind the bed, with my eyes wide open from fear and excitement, listening to stories being told, stories of war relived once more.
Aldona Kmiec is a Polish-born Australian artist based in Ballarat.
Her story and artworks have been featured on The Design Files, Channel 9 BH&G and Australian Country Magazine. She is a finalist of Maggie Diaz Photography Prize for Women, Bowness Photography Prize, Winner of Eureka Art Award, Head On Photo Festival and more.
Photo: Jo Elvis