The Polish Scrapyard That Upcycles Old Cars into Sculptures
#photography & visual arts
small, The Polish Scrapyard That Upcycles Old Cars into Sculptures, Gallery of Steel Figures, photo: The Gallery of Steel Figures, tourist_attractions_in_cracow_gallery_of_steel_figures_atrakcje_turystyczne_krakow_galleria_figur_stalowych_muzeum_figur_stalowych_museum_of_steel_figures_9.jpg
Just outside Warsaw, there’s a small town that’s home to an unexpected attraction: a very special gallery where all the sculptures are made from metal salvaged at a nearby scrapyard.
In the 1990s Pruszków (pronounced: PROOSH-koov) earned the reputation of a mob town. After it became public knowledge that one of Poland’s mafia bosses operated from there, the name became synonymous with organised crime. However, the legendary Pruszków mafia has long been dismantled by the authorities, and the small suburban town is no longer considered outlaw territory.
In fact Pruszków is experiencing a renaissance and has recently started making a new name for itself on the art scene. Mariusz Olejnik, who runs a local scrapyard, came up with the prodigious idea of making sculptures by recycling metal from his business. His Gallery of Steel Figures now has over 70 exhibits and is rapidly growing in popularity.
Olejnik describes himself as ‘just a guy who loves scrap metal’ rather an artist. It his love for what many consider useless junk, paired with an urge to do something out of the ordinary, that led him to upcycling steel. His and his employees’ very first creation was a table made out of a car engine. It wasn’t a stunning aesthetical success, euphemistically-speaking, so Olejnik decided to establish a collaboration with metal-savvy artists who would create truly top-shelf art. Currently the gallery works with 50 artists from around the world, and considering how impressive the gallery’s exhibits have become, Olejnik must have chosen wisely. The life-sized representations of supercars such as Bugatti Veyron or Lamborghini Aventador are especially notable. Mainly made from gearbox parts, they have functional doors and detailed interiors. A single car takes 8 months to complete. Among the gallery’s other attractions are sculptures of transformers (in robotic, not automobile form) and likenesses of pop culture icons like Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, the Hulk, or Pumba. Olejnik personally oversees the exhibits’ creation.
According to its creator, the gallery is the first of its kind. It has attracted significant attention both in Poland and abroad. The Gallery of Steel Figures has also been noticed by a leading international car company, which asked Olejnik to make a model of its to-be-launched supercar, a proposal he gladly agreed to. Also, the gallery’s existing car sculptures are to be featured at next year’s Dubai Motor Show. In response to the hype surrounding his figures, Olejnik is planning to hold exhibitions in Kraków, London and in France. If you’re anywhere near, those recycled metal titans are definitely worth a visit.
Author: Marek Kępa, September 2016
The Gallery of Steel Figures