Love story lives on through art

Novel in­spired by life of Pol­ish artist who im­mi­grated to Heart’s Con­tent

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON TC ME­DIA edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The story of Alexan­der Pindikowsky is a cu­ri­ous one. In 1879, the young man from Poland ar­rived in Heart’s Con­tent to work for the An­glo Amer­i­can Tele­graph Com­pany as an art in­struc­tor for em­ploy­ees and their spouses.

An ill-ad­vised de­ci­sion to forge two cheques earned him a jail sen­tence of 15 months and an or­der to leave New­found­land and re­turn to Poland upon his re­lease.

How­ever, Alexan­der’s skillset opened up un­ex­pected op­por­tu­ni­ties that set his life on a dif­fer­ent path. It’s this turn of events that in­spired St. John’s writer Carolyn Mor­gan to weave Pindikowsky’s tale into her first novel.

“Art Love Forgery” is a new work of his­tor­i­cal fiction built on true events in the Pol­ish artist’s life. Like Alexan­der, Carolyn is a visual artist, so that as­pect of his life ap­pealed to her greatly.

Pindikowsky was a fresco pain­ter, mean­ing he was par­tic­u­larly skilled at do­ing in­tri­cate mu­rals. These sorts of paint­ings are com­monly found on the ceil­ings of his­toric cathe­drals in Europe.

News of his tal­ents spread to prison of­fi­cials, who gave him an op­por­tu­nity to put his skills to good use in ex­change for a re­duced sen­tence. Some of the work he did at Gov­ern­ment House in St. John’s re­mains vis­i­ble to this day. He also worked in­side the Colo­nial Build­ing and for the Pre­sen­ta­tion Sis­ters at Cathe­dral Square.

“I’ve gone to visit Gov­ern­ment House a num­ber of times, and they al­ways talk about his beau­ti­ful fres­cos on the ceil­ings there,” Carolyn told The Com­pass.

Four years ago, she heard an in­ter­view on the ra­dio with Gov­ern­ment House se­nior tour guide Diane O’Mara talk­ing about Pindikowsky and his life. Diane’s hus­band John, since de­ceased, was work­ing on a book. He ul­ti­mately did not com­plete it.

“She has a lot of notes and in­for­ma­tion about Pindikowsky, and af­ter that, I thought I re­ally wanted to tell this story,” said Mor­gan.

John O’Mara’s re­search found that he did meet a woman in St. John’s named Ellen Dor­mody. They had a child, Jo­hanna Mary Ellen Pindikowskie, born in 1882.

How the two came to know each other is not clear, though there has been some spec­u­la­tion the face of a woman painted in the ceil­ing of Gov­ern­ment House is Ellen’s.

“I don’t think it’s ac­tu­ally writ­ten down that she was a maid at Gov­ern­ment House dur­ing that time, but it’s pos­si­ble that she could have been, be­cause the records aren’t there.”

With that in mind, Carolyn elected to bring Ellen into Gov­ern­ment House for her story.

“Once I de­cided to tell the story through Ellen Dor­mody’s eyes, it came to­gether, “she said. “It’s al­ways dif­fi­cult to mesh fiction, his­tor­i­cal fiction, be­cause there’s fact and then there’s your imag­in­ings and what

Once I de­cided to tell the story through Ellen Dor­mody’s eyes, it came to­gether.

you say … In the back of my novel I have listed the bare-bones his­tor­i­cal facts, and I’ve listed them be­cause I know peo­ple want to know was this true or wasn’t this true.”

A tale deeply rooted in New­found­land and Labrador’s his­tory, Carolyn ex­pects those who en­joy love sto­ries will like her book, as will cu­ri­ous read­ers.

“If I didn’t know any­thing about New­found­land and I picked up this book, I would find the ac­tual story of Alexan­der Pindikowsky rather riv­et­ing,” she said.

Flanker Press is the pub­lisher of “Art Love Forgery.”

Flanker Press is the pub­lisher of “Art Love Forgery.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Carolyn Mor­gan is the au­thor of “Art Love Forgery.”

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