Warning: the first part of this post includes explicit images of very large spiders.
We visit two exhibitions at the Palace of Culture and Science, three generations of us. Not since a day in Broken Hill when I saw “Little women” and “Pulp fiction” in a double bill of my own making have I experienced such an incongruous pairing: this time, spiders and dolls’ houses.
Once an arachnophobe, I can now contemplate bird-eaters with curiosity, and delight in the curiosity of my grandchildren as they play “spot the lurking arachnid”. I see beauty like that of butterflies in the patterning of arachnid backs; I’m intrigued by their web-making capacities; I watch Sally (some spiders have names – there is a Cornelia and a Janek too) with fascination as she moves through the entanglement of her web towards the water bowl. However, I do shudder a little bit at the thought of a 22cm scorpion.
After time with spiders and scorpions, we move through the vastness of the Palace to the recently opened dolls house museum. Maja and Jaś are measured and exceed one metre in height. Children under a metre (and grown-ups over 100) have free entry. The woman selling tickets accompanies us to a shelf of teddy bears: beneath it, a door opens into the enchantments of the miniature.
There is great variety including folk art rooms; a writer’s room complete with crumpled paper and a glass of wine; a yurt bedizened with carpets and jewellery; a classroom of mice.
I think my favourites are the miniature shops, especially the post office with its tiny letters and parcels; and the dress material shop with its minute hanks of cotton and rolls of fabric.
A bonus is a gallery of drawings by children of their dream houses.
From the gallery stairs I look down on the twinkling scene: magical – and a photographer’s nightmare!