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Topolski Studio

Feliks Topolski was born in Warsaw on 14th August 1907 and studied at the Warsaw Academy of Art from 1927-1932.

In 1933, Topolski began the first of a series of journeys around Europe, visiting Austria, Italy, Germany and France. In 1935, he was commissioned to go to Britain to record King George V’s Silver Jubilee. He settled in London, where he remained at the outbreak of war in 1939. From 1940, he was an official war artist and joined the first Arctic convoy to Russia in 1941.

During the Second World War, Topolski sailed from Britain to Egypt, later visiting the Levant: Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. He travelled onto India, Burma and China and was in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp two weeks after its liberation in April 1945, and later attended, and drew, the Nuremberg Trials.

Cavalcade of the Commonwealth
was commissioned for the 1951 Festival of Britain. In 1958 Prince Philip commissioned a mural of Elizabeth II’s Coronation for Buckingham Palace. From 1953-1979 the artist published Topolski’s Chronicles, broadsheet drawings of his travels - documenting history as it happened.

Topolski returned to India in 1949-50 at the invitation of the Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, recorded Pope Paul VI’s visit to the Holy Land in 1964 and went back to China in 1966 at the start of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. He travelled to America in 1968 and documented the Democratic Convention riots in Chicago, before going to San Francisco to meet members of the Black Panther Party.

Feliks Topolski made face to face portraits of the leading personalities of the 20th century from Gandhi to Shaw, from Churchill to Martin Luther King (and stage and screen giants such as Edith Evans, Alec Guiness and Laurence Olivier).

Topolski received an honorary doctorate from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland in 1974. In 1975 Topolski began work on the painted panorama he called Memoir of the Century, now renamed Topolski Century. He died in London on 24th August 1989.

The Studio
In 2012, Topolski Memoir Ltd aims to restore Topolski’s original artist’s studio as a working art and print studio equipped with an off-set litho printing press and archive of original paintings and Chronicles, to become the heart of Topolski Memoir Ltd’s learning programme.

Our vision for the future of the Topolski Studio comprises the following three strands:

An Active Legacy
As a chronicler of some of the most significant moments and characters that shaped the twentieth century, Topolski was continually interacting with the events of his day. Through his methods of print production and the distribution of his eye witness Chronicles to subscribers from around the world, Topolski was at the heart of a worldwide political, cultural and social network. Topolski Studio believes in bringing alive this unique artistic practice through a programme of active learning opportunities for the local community. Rather than passively consuming the artwork and being educated about its historical significance, community members will learn from participating in the techniques and methods that Topolski pioneered as a tool for social and cultural engagement.

A Contemporary Intervention

Topolski Studio will be a contemporary intervention both in terms of how it will engage with and shape current drawing practices, contributing to their present resurgence, and also in how those practices, inspired by Topolski’s use of drawing as reportage, will involve people in current events and contemporary life. We intend to offer residencies to young people currently not in employment, education or training, where they will work together to produce, distribute and exhibit their own broadsheet Chronicles. They will use print as a strategy for social and political engagement, be artistically innovative and bring new perspectives to contemporary issues. This will widen pathways into and increase the diversity of the arts and cultural sector.

A Community Resource
Topolski Studio will be a centre of community life, providing artistic training and a space to experiment and enjoy art, particularly printmaking and drawing. Our community and artistic goals are not separate; we believe everyone can achieve excellence and, through engaging people in new techniques, we aim to demystify artistic production and make it open to all. Members of the community will participate in all aspects of the Studio and, through peer to peer learning schemes, will themselves become ‘experts’ and artists.



Feliks Topolski
Feliks Topolski
Feliks Topolski
Feliks Topolski
Feliks Topolski
Feliks Topolski
Feliks Topolski
Feliks Topolski