We Are Freo - Natalia Fidyka
Meet Natalia Fidyka. I first met Natalia at our store on High St, Fremantle. Her energy, love of colour and her laughter are infectious. We have become friends over our love of India and her experience as a psychologist always comes with gentle advice on coping with life”s challenges. Her ANJELMS wardrobe is quite impressive and I treasure the stunning painting I bought from her. Her art like herself is a celebration of life, colour, the travels and people she meets.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’m a psychologist by trade and an artist from birth, and I love both dearly. My parents moved to Australia from Poland in 1980, and shortly after had me. I am keenly committed to expressing my inner world, and love to create fun spaces for people to do the same. Colour is my jam, the studio and nature are my temple. Coffee is my crutch.
What led you to Fremantle?
Freo has an old world charm; full of grit, creativity and multiculturalism that has always appealed to my sensibilities. As a kid I attended a catholic kindy (Maristella) and went onto St Patricks primary, where I made lifelong friendships, many of whom were Italian or Polish. I think the European connection offered an unspoken kinship and ease in those early relationships, when my polish heritage was far more in the foreground; demonstrated by the fact that I went to school wearing socks with my sandals, and had my sandwiches cut in rectangles.
What is the story behind your print?
Madonna or Mother Mary and I have a long and winding relationship. My first memory of her, was when I was 12 years old visiting Poland for the first time. My parents took me to Czestochowa, a historic and magical place, signifying the end of a pilgrimage route to the Black Madonna. In the chapel, her painting is surrounded by many offerings of crutches, and spectacles and the sort; remnants left behind by worshipers experiencing spontaneous healings. I remember being moved to tears, and since that moment my life has been sprinkled by other profound encounters with the Madonna.
The Blessing of the Fleet blends so many special moments for me, and has been one of those fond memories of being a Freo local. In the early 2000’s I worked at shoe shop on the cappuccino strip, and I recall standing at the shop front, watching as the procession of fishermen and their families trailed behind an idol of Mary, on her way to bless the fishing boats in the harbour for the next season. What an honour to witness such a beautiful tradition.
What are your favourite spots in Fremantle and any tips for visitors or newcomers?
Even though I have studied, lived and worked in and out of Fremantle since I was small; nothing delights me more than simply meandering the streets. Freo continues to offer something new, and feels like a mythic beast harbouring secrets waiting to be revealed. From the gorgeous cottage gardens of South Fremantle, to the west-end full of beautiful facades, views of the shipping containers and ‘giraffes’ cranes, or the relief of the Norfolk pines on a white hot summers day, to the sound of the clanging masts in a winter squall. I can never get enough.
Freo somehow attracts the most incredible hive of big hearted, passionate and creative humans who make Freo so much more than a city, they make it a home.
Photography by @raquelarand.a