about the project
oral history archive
collections
contact
about emigration museum in gdynia
search
A A contrast version
+add your story
Izabella Godlewska de Aranda

Izabella Godlewska de Aranda
 

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.

>>> read more

London is also where she met Eduardo Aranda de Carranza, with whom she moved to Madrid and whom she married in 1959. After moving to Spain, she found employment at an architecture firm owned by Mariano Garrigueza and collaborated with architect José Suáres in Cádiz. She authored projects such as the El Marítimo (1968) apartment block at the beach of Cádiz and the house of Dolly Sanchez Bella in Mojácar.

Her husband’s diplomatic career (he was appointed chargé d’affaires of the Spanish Embassy in Haiti in 1960) made her quit architecture and move with him. The capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, saw her first individual painting exhibition in 1962.

The family, which eventually grew by three, daughter Izabella and sons Eudardo and José Ramon, moved to a new place in Rome in 1963. That is where Izabella Godlewska first met her uncle, Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Jr., who instilled in her an even greater connection and interest regarding Polish traditions and the history of the Czapski family.

1969 saw another public exhibition of her work, this time in Rome’s 88 Gallery. Her next individual exhibition took place a year later in Caracas, which became the Aranda family’s home for more than two years. After returning to Spain in 1971, she settled in Madrid, where she became acquainted with the local artistic community via a friend and relative of the Aranda family, painter José Caballero (1913-1991), a collaborator and friend of Federico Garcia Lorca and Pablo Neruda. In 1973, she was invited to participate in a prestigious exhibition titled “70 years of Spanish painting”, held in Madrid, London, Dublin and Warsaw. Her works were exhibited together with those of the greatest Spanish artists of the 20th century, including Salvador Dalí. Izabella Godlewska de Aranda participated in a 1974 Spanish modern painting competition titled Costas de España (Spanish coasts), organised by Iberia airlines. She placed third with her painting titled “Path to infinity”, and was the only woman on the podium. Madrid’s Skira Gallery hosted another individual exhibition of the artist the same year.

In 1975, her works qualified for the Barcelona and Zamora Biennale and were nominated for the Beaux-Arts award in Madrid. In 1977, Godlewska de Aranda’s works were displayed on individual exhibitions in Baghdad, Cairo and Alexandria. Her next exhibitions took place in Caja de Ahorros in Cádiz (1979) and in Madrid’s Sen Gallery (1980).
Late 70s were spent travelling between Madrid and London, where Izabella’s husband given a posting. Early 80s saw Godlewska’s paintings displayed together with forty other works by modern Spanish artists at an exhibition titled Trayectorias, which visited Naples, Athens, Ankara, Istanbul, Amman, Bangkok, New Delhi and Canberra. Due to her husband’s 1987 appointment as Consul General of the Kingdom of Spain in Belgian Liège, and later as Ambassador of Spain in Finland and Estonia, Izabella’s life was filled with social and family duties typical of wives of diplomats. The period was marked by her search for new forms of expression. In the late 80s and early 90s, she experimented with tapestry techniques.

In June 1990, Izabella participated in the opening of an exhibition of works by her uncle Józef Czapski in Vevey, Switzerland. She could feel that it would be the last time she would be able to meet her 94-year-old relative. They shared memories of times past, people and places, drew and discussed art together. In November the same year, after a long break, Godlewska presented her paintings in the halls of the Midland Bank in London as part of an exhibition organised by the Association for Latin American Art. In the early 90s, the artist took to painting the landscapes of the northern plains of Finland.

In May 1992, she was successful at arranging a return to her childhood by embarking on a trip to Belarus with her family. The trip and the meeting with Czapski, so full of memories, awakened her interest in Czapski family history and heirlooms, as well as strengthening her Polish identity. The same year, Izabella went to Cracow, where she got in touch with the employees and management of the National Museum in Cracow, which included the Hutten-Czapski Museum in its structures.
Her husband Eduardo passed away in Spain in 1993. Izabella’s life changed rapidly – she moved to London and started attending the Chelsea and the West Thames Colleges of Art to learn sculpture. She had been on a search for new techniques for some time already, techniques which would enable her to express more fully the emotions that had been bottling up inside her over the years. In 1998, Godlewska participated in a contest for the sculpture of Pope John Paul II in front of Almuden Cathedral in Madrid. The next year, her works were displayed in two London galleries: The Air Gallery and Studio Gallery.

In 2005, Izabella Godlewska de Aranda’s first monographic exhibition took place in Poland, in Torun’s University Museum. The next year, it was displayed in Cracow’s National Museum and in Warsaw, in the auditorium of the Warsaw University of Technology. To celebrate Spain’s leadership of the European Union, she was invited in February 2010 to hold an exhibition at the Polish Embassy in Madrid, where she was also awarded with the ministerial Badge of Merit to Culture. In April of the same year, her works were displayed at an exhibition in the Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain in Warsaw. That was also the time when the relations between cultural institutions of Poland and Spain she had initiated bore fruit. In 2011, two large-scale exhibitions took place, organised by the National Museum in Cracow and Patrimonio Nacional, displaying both countries’ greatest national treasures. 2013 saw the reopening of the Emeryk Hutten-Czapski Museum in Cracow, which had remained closed since the war. The museum houses the collections of her ancestors and the works of Józef Czapski, as well as being a worthy place for Godlewska’s own works, not only as the heiress of a great family, but especially as an individual artist.

Izabella Godlewska has been living in Madrid since 2013. In 2014, the artist’s greatest monographic exhibition took place in Museo de Cádiz, held once again in Madrid’s Casa de Vacas a year later.

Izabella Godlewska de Aranda died on 12th June 2018.


She was interviewed by Sławomir Majoch on 9 July 2015 in Madrid.

: / :
“Little memories” from childhood
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
Wartime suitcase
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
From Romania to Lithuania
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
The war, Vilnius and marzipan animals
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
From Latvia to Sweden
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
In Paris with the Polish Army
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
The last stage of escape: Great Britain
>>> Read the transcription
: / :
At a boarding school
>>> Read the transcription
gallery