Eugenia Tynna's "Gdansk Alphabet" project, which consists of colorful, multi-format terrazzo cubes and brass letters blended into them, proves that urban space can be quickly enlivened and fixed with a clever idea. The artist, inspired by the letters, the Gothic style and the city, took the opportunity to give Gdansk residents a field to play with - searching for the cubes while walking around the city.
The story of the "Gdansk Alphabet" begins with the project "Secrets", which was created in late 2020 at the Institute of Urban Culture in Gdansk. After experiencing life in a pandemic, which caused, among other things, a reduction in contact with art in cultural institutions and at the same time forced mainly online contact, the institute's staff decided to break this trend and go with art to the streets of Gdansk - directly to the residents. This is how "Secrets " was created - a series of installations in the urban space of Gdansk, which were created by more than a dozen artists. Among them was Eugenia Tynna, who proposed to artistically fill the gaps in Gdansk's sidewalks. Her "Gdansk Alphabet" consists of 32 cubes made of terrazzo, in which brass letters are embedded. The artist specializes in lettering and typography, hence the proposal. In addition, she is active in the Traffic Design Association, responsible for many art projects in public space.
In creating the alphabet, I wanted to combine my two passions, namely letters and the city. I wanted to blend the cubes into the urban space, but at the same time not to strongly disturb its fabric. It also turned out to be a great way to have fun, as people start looking for the cubes and walking in their footsteps-- explains Eugenia Tynna.
The cubes are made of terrazzo and stones. Letters cast from brass
Photo: Maja Tybel
The artist notes that the functional dimension was extremely important to her in the project. The colorful and multi-format cubes not only aestheticize and enliven the city. They are also its restorative element. The materials and colors were chosen to subtly blend into the surrounding space, mainly the sidewalk surface. The letters made of brass, following the Gothic script, correspond with the character of the old city, but a contemporary element - diversity- is also felt in the design. Each of the cubes and letters has a different size, shape and color. And their size was adapted to the size and depth of the sidewalk cavities. It is also interesting to note that the artist searched for them while walking around the city at night!
The holes in the sidewalks were traced with carbon paper, and on this basis a template was created, in which the cube was molded. The characters on the cubes are not obvious, and this is what I wanted - to create something between a letter and a symbol, " explains the designer.
A cube from the "Gdansk Alphabet" in the city sidewalk
photo: Rafał Kołsut
The making of the cubes rested on the shoulders of Igor Tarasiewicz, an artist who creates in concrete, among other things. Briefly, the process of creating such a cube looks as follows: a letter, previously cut and polished, is placed in a special mold. Then a mixture of terrazzo and stones is poured into the mold. After the mold solidifies, the cube is ground and then polished with water. This is craft work.
The process of making the cubes can be seen in this video:
sign of the times
Cubeswith the Gdansk alphabet not only aestheticize, revitalize and repair Gdansk's urban space. They also collect signs of the times, which can be seen, for example, in the brass letters.
It's been a few months, and already one can observe how the appearance of the cubes is changing. The brass is much darker and deposits have appeared on it. Art in urban space shows the passage of time very well, and also in this respect this project is very important and interesting to me all the time ," says the author.
For the author of the project it is important to observe the changes that occur in the material with the passage of time
Photo: Rafał Kołsut
where to look for the alphabet cubes?
To all who are curious about the location of the cubes with the Gdansk alphabet, we recommend heading to the Old Town, in the vicinity of the Main Railway Station, Coal Market or Piwna Street, and looking carefully at the sidewalk surfaces there. Together with the author of the project, we hint that the cubes are mainly found in older pavements - they would most likely be assessed as ones that are not worth repairing.
Cubes from the "Gdansk Alphabet"
Photo: Maja Tybel
Eugenia Tynna is a graduate of the Lviv National Academy of Art and the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk, where she currently works as an assistant in the Studio of Lettering and Typography at the Department of Graphics. Professionally, she specializes in signpainting, typography and lettering. She also cooperates with Traffic Design, an association working in the field of art and design in public space. Read more about Eugenia Tynna's projects on her Instagram.
Igor Tarasiewicz is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk, a painter, material scientist and craft enthusiast. He creates sculptures, decorations, designs, including terrazzo. He also does abstract painting.