23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Iwona Chmielewska
© privat

Iwona Chmielewska

Iwona Chmielewska was born in Pabianice in 1960. She studied graphics in Thorn and began illustrating picture books in the 1990s.

The turning point in her career as an illustrator came when she met the Korean children’s book expert Jiwone Lee at the 2003 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Their partnership has led to the publication of 20 successful books in South Korea. Iwona Chmielewska says the experience of illustrating for South Korean publishers has taught her »that you can write books about really important themes for children as well, and that art can be a valuable instrument in that process, reinforcing not just sensitivity and creativity, but also the formation of values.« It is hardly surprising that Chmielewska has enjoyed such success in South Korea, which currently can boast the world’s most innovative market for children’s picture books. Her books display a remarkable spectrum of illustrative styles, which allow her, in her own words, to »create undefined images which exist independently and are open to interpretation, so that anyone can find what they seek within them.« Prime examples of her diversity can be found in »The House of the Mind – MAUM« (2010, Text: Kim Hee-Kyung), a complex book about the soul, »O wędrowaniu przy zasypianiu« (2006; tr. On Sleepwalking), a plea for the power of the imagination, and »Thinking ABC« (2006), a tongue-in-cheek look at the alphabet from an entirely new perspective. »Pamiętnik Blumki« (2011; t. Blumka’s Diary – On Living in Janusz Korczak’s Orphanage) is the first book by Iwona Chmielewska to be translated into German. It is a fictional diary which recounts in daily episodes the life of Blumka and eleven other children living in an orphanage, and which also examines Janusz Korczak and his educational concepts, which have lost none of their relevance. The »Süddeutsche Zeitung« called it a »great book […] because it moves on tiptoes through this child’s world, careful not to disturb as it says big things with simple words. And because the pictures are happy in a melancholy way, and inventive and richly detailed.«

Iwona Chmielewska’s illustrations have been exhibited in Rome, Seoul, Tokyo and Warsaw, among other places, and have won numerous awards, including the Golden Apple at the 2007 Illustration Biennial in Bratislava and the Bologna Ragazzi Award (2011). » Pamiętnik Blumki« was nominated for the 2012 German Children’s Book Awards in the Picture Book category. Iwona Chmielewska lives in Thorn, where she works as an author and illustrator of picture books and as a university lecturer on book design.


Thinking ABC NonjangSeoul, 2005

O wędrowaniu przy zasypianiu Hokus-Pokus Warschau, 2006

Room in the Heart, BIUM [Text: Kwak Young Kwon] AgibooksSeoul, 2009

The House of the Mind – MAUM [Text: Kim Hee-Kyung] ChangbiPaju, 2010

Blumkas Tagebuch Vom Leben in Janusz Korczaks Waisenhaus Gimpel Hannover, 2011 [Ü: Adam Jaromir]