Jan Frank Poloczek



An Eastern Orthodox church, now derelict of function as its former parish was forced to move as a result of war and population movements. Near to the post-war border with Ukraine, the area remained in Poland. Sadly without a parish, the building was used as a chemical fertiliser store, which together with neglect, sped its natural decay and eventual collapse some six months after we were there. My visit to see and photograph the building, together with my girlfriend at the time was in the late summer of 1991.


Rachel & I saw slides my brother had taken in Poland, exploring the borderlands with the Ukraine. Seeing his photographs of Wierzbica, Rachel hurried us into going and seeing it for ourselves, post-haste.


Rachel had planned to take medium format colour slides on a Mamiya C330, as the walls were painted “polychrome” – gold stars, angels and saints on a dark blue background. Unfortunately, her camera jammed on the first frame and all was lost. I was using b/w film in a Canon A-1, a more robust camera that travelled better & that could adapt faster to the changing light conditions we faced on a windy, bright day, with clouds speeding past in a flat landscape. All I had was black and white film, a great pity as the painted walls were a powerful part of the structure.


Unbeknown to us, the building was empty of supplies and equipment as the structure was close to collapse. As views were unimpeded, I flew about the place like a hover-fly, slowing to take a shot & then moving off for the next one.


The wind not only made the clouds scud by, but also made the building quietly creak in occasional sympathy with the wind – reminiscent of the giant hulk of a ship pulling at its moorings.


According to a caption at an exhibition “Ukraińska Sztuka Cerkiewna”, at the Ukrainian Art Gallery in Cracow (Galeria Sztuki Ukraińskiej – Fundacja Św. Włodzimierza, Kraków, ul. Kanoniczna 15), the building collapsed during a storm on the night of 14 February 1992.




FORMER ORTHODOX PARISH CHURCH of St Michael the Archhangel, on the site of the previous Uniate church. Abandoned after 1947 and taken over as a warehouse by the State Farm in Machnówek. Currently in ruins. Oriented. Wooden, interlocked wooden corner-quoin construction, quoins shaped into fish-tails, with a stone ground sill. Tri-partite: square nave, a narrower chancel, rectangular, with three-sided apse, and of equal width to the porch section. All three sections of equal height, crowned with a profiled cornice. Interior covered by eight-panelled domes on high drums, supported on pendentives in the nave and porch. Drum over nave somewhat higher; nave dome crowned with a lantern, false lanterns over the chancel and porch. Overhanging musical choir in the nave, with straight azure parapet, connected to an analogous gallery over the chancel and porch. Polychromy of classical character on the walls, post-1887, with architectural divisions and figurative representations. On the outside, the eastern-rite church was once surrounded by salient verandahs, walls and drum were vertically boarded with planks and battening. Door and window openings rectangular, windows surrounded by board frames; over the entrance to the porch a foundation inscription, together with the date 1887; forced iron grilles in the windows. Domes, onion-like lantern helmets and roofing covered in sheet metal; forged iron crosses on the helmets.


Information sourced from: Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, Tom VIII, Dawne Województwo Lubelskie – Zeszyt 17, Tomaszów Mazowiecki i okolice, Instytut Sztuki Polskiej Akademii Nauk, Warszawa, 1982. (Catalogue of Monuments of Art in Poland, Volume VIII, The former Lublin Province - Book 17, Tomaszów Mazowiecki and district, Polish Academy of Sciences Institute of Art, Warsaw, 1982.)


Media used: Canon A-1 35 mm, Canon optics: 24mm f2.8FD

& 35-70mm f4FD

Films: Ilford FP4 rated @ 80 ASA. Kodak TMY rated @ 80 ASA

Paper: Forte Polywarmtone FB. Fibrebased Multigrade, Made in Hungary!

Zero filtration, so equiv. grade = 0

Developed in AGFA NEUTOL WA & fixed in HYPAM (Ilford).



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