Seven researchers and teachers from St. Petersburg have been awarded the Russian Government Education Awards. Teachers from the Folk Arts School of Higher Education are among them. Saint-Petersburg TV Channel reporter Alexander Odintsov met the masters.
‘Here we see more olive colour, here ochre, and here greenish. Only this way we can understand there were three different painters.’
Actually, there were five painters working on the icon-stand for the in-house church, all of them graduates of the Folk Arts School of Higher Education.
In the past, one icon could be made by several artists, one painted the landscape, another the clothes, and one more the face and the hands. In this case, every painter made five icons.
Polina Guseva, Rector of the Folk Arts School of Higher Education, tells: ‘The icons were painted with egg tempera only, with natural pigment ground and egg yoke and vinegar water added to the powder to make emulsion.’
These colours are made here in the Academy, they can be stored for no longer than two weeks.
Making lace is purely meditative.
Yekaterina Lapshina, Chair of the art lace department of the Academy, explains: ‘They start from the very beginning, knowing nothing about lace making, and end up creating large lacework, like a long lace gown.’
Such dresses are 100% handwork, more than haute couture clothes. Lace makers from the Academy are members of the Lace Making Union of the Old World.
Lacquer miniaturists also deserve attention. Students are taught not only to paint, but to make papier mache boxes.
Yulia Besshaposhnikova, Chair of the lacquer miniature painting department of the Academy, explains: ‘Pressed cardboard impregnated with linseed oil becomes very hard and strong.’
The educational process and experience in teaching traditional arts were used to write a number of articles, monographies and textbooks, which were now awarded by the Government.
Valentina Maximovich, President of the Folk Arts School of Higher Education, tells: ‘Before 2003, there were no textbooks on these crafts. Folk arts schools existed, but everybody had their methods with no general system of education. We made textbooks for teaching traditional arts.’
The Academy has eight branches in Russia and a branch in Porvoo in Finland, with 200 students studying folk arts.
Photo and video: St. Petersburg TV channel