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Polish community create pajaki to celebrate centenary of independence

A TRADITIONAL paper chandelier created by Rugby's Polish community has gone on display at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum.

The pajaki project was the brainchild of artist Michaela McMillan, who secured a £1,000 grant from Rugby Borough Council in 2018 to work with the the town's Polish community to mark the centenary of Poland regaining independence.

RAGM pajakiMichaela held a series of workshops at the town's Saturday Polish School and a family workshop at the Art Gallery and Museum during the project, which was inspired by the Polish folk art and craft tradition of making pajaki decorations to celebrate Christmas, Easter and other special occasions.

Pajaki, or 'spiders of straw', date back to the 18th century and comprise colourful and carefully cut pieces of paper and rye straw. The decorations were created by farming families during the winter when cold weather meant work was in short supply.

Michaela said: "The aim of the project was to explore the culture and heritage of Rugby's Polish community and celebrate the cultural diversity of the town.

"While the tradition of pajaki has started to die out in Poland, it has been embraced by the arts and crafts community in Britain in recent years and the project was a great opportunity to engage the town's Polish community with an important part of Poland's heritage."

The pajaki remains on display in the Art Gallery and Museum's foyer until 4 May.

The council's annual grants to community and voluntary organisations support a wide range of projects.

Organisations can now apply online for a Community Projects Grant or a grant from the council's Rural Development Fund on the council's website - 

Cllr Emma Crane, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for communities and homes, said: "Community and voluntary organisations make a vital contribution to the borough and our grants aim to support a diverse range of projects which make a real difference to the lives of residents."

Applications for this year's grants close on Sunday 31 March.

Photo caption: Artist Michaela McMillan with the pajaki created by the town's Polish community.

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