Thursday, 17 April 2014

Mural, Mural on the Wall

I have been following the Kyiv street art scene for quite a while and if you've been a reader of this blog from the beginning (hey, it's never too late to start) you might remember some of my pictures and posts.   Now I have stumbled upon this rare interview with famous Kyiv muralists, AEC and Waone in English  who, together, are better known as Interesni Kazki   and who now paint all over the world.   I find it really sad that the main reason they are not visible more in Ukraine is bureacracy, difficulties in obtaining the necessary permits and finances.  They travel the globe with their brushes and palette all round the year now but according to the interview, haven't completely abandoned the idea of success in Ukraine.

I have passed Cafe Dragee on Lvivska Square quite many a times especially as it's just round the corner from my oft-frequented embassy but  it was only right to wait with posting pictures until after I'd had breakfast in there.  Today was the day, coffee morning with my Magyar friends in Kyiv.

So here, enjoy the AEC and Waone murals on the walls of Dragee.

Here's a link to some of my older posts if you want to see more of their wonderful work in Kyiv.

Monday, 14 April 2014

It's a Hoot

Kyiv's most famous contemporary sculptor (creator of Hedgehog in the Fog, Peizhasna Alley, the White Piano,  the Cat and the Ballerina among others) Constantin Skritutskiy is back.

You might already have seen his Kingfisher in what's now been named 'Park of the Intellectuals' on the corner of Gonchara and Zhitomirska streets.  This was the first in what's intended to be a series five bronze birds, unveiled in August of last year - a symbol of the old, modest, intellectual Kyiv.   

The second symbol of urban intelligentsia, the wise owl, was unveiled just a couple of days ago in honour of World Aviation and Cosmonautics Day - symbol of the scientific intelligentsia of Kyiv. 

Following Skritutsky's trail is always a bit of treasure hunt for me.  I can't wait to discover the next three!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Easter Fair at the Museum

It's not often that Orthodox and Western Easters fall on the same weekend and it's even rarer that we get to have spring break at the same time.  Yay - I just had to point that out because it means in a few days we're going home!  But before hopping on that plane, there is still plenty of time to get into the Easter mood.

So let's see what we did yesterday.

(click on the pictures to enlarge) 

Easter Fair at the National Centre of Folk Culture 'Ivan Honchar Museum'.

 Families in national costume all around the tables, such intimate atmosphere.

The 'artist of the nation' who made this icon worked on it for an entire month.  

Remember my adventures into doll making a couple of days ago?  Now I know all the hard work and beautiful stories that have gone into these.

 I didn't intend to spend money but when I saw this exquisite wax egg, I couldn't resist. 

And this, of course will be a lovely addition to the Easter table at our Hungarian 'dacha' next week.

Although they are beautiful, I wasn't tempted to buy painted eggs

because I left Tween at her regular Saturday art class where she was learning to design and paint her own!

Tween with her art teacher,  Anastasia
My next project - using Natasha's recipe,  baking my own kulich (traditional Ukrainian Easter bread).  Check back to see the results in a few days.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Oh, The Smell of Books: The Arsenal Book Festival

The Arsenal Book Festival is the largest of its kind in Ukraine, with authors and publishing houses from all over the country and Europe as well.  More than 40,000 visitors attend every year. 

I didn't go to understand the words.  I went to soak in the atmosphere.   The Book Fair 'makes you clearly understand that we're all connected' with 'the feeling of a home with a big family gathered under its roof', and 'a sense of modernism and Europe' - reviewed writers and publishers exhibiting last year.  Baby (who is really not a baby any more, time to re-think those names) and I went to check it out - all true.  Besides, Mystetskyi Arsenal never disappoints in being one of the most child-friendly places in the Ukrainian capital.

(Click on the pictures to enlarge).

you sit, you touch

you read (notice the bilingual book)

you get your very own book signed, the author telling you 'you are the most special little girl in the world'

and space, lots and lots of space
colour and many unique toys
eye-pleasing decoration and not one word of 'no photos allowed'
the magic wardrobe and the studious cat
This year the international emphasis is on France - David Foenkinos,  the best-selling French author of the 2009 novel “Delicacy” (La délicatesse) is among ten specially invited guests.  The Goethe Institute, the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Czech Centre and the Polish Insitute of Kyiv all have stands and the latter two are exhibiting contemporary Czech children's book illustrations while the Poles show the works of their contemporary graphic artists in the small gallery.  

They close on Sunday, but there is still plenty of time to go.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

I Made Beautiful Dolls Today

The tradition of making rag dolls  - Motanka dolls - in Ukraine goes back centuries to pre-Christian times and with some added regional characteristics they can be found all over the country.  Originally symbols of fertility and procreation, over time they have become much more than that.

Lots of Ukrainian children grew up playing with rag dolls when there was no money for fancier ones but it is obvious, they are not only toys but part of the national identity.  It was always grandmothers passing on the tradition of making Motanka to the grandchild, teaching them not only technique but also the importance of working in good spirits as that's the only way the dolls would protect from evil and bad luck.

We were quite uncertain ourselves, a group of international women, to begin with,  if we had it in us to make a success story of today's master class (that's how workshops are called in Ukraine).  But within minutes our patient teacher, Kateryna, with perfect English, put us in a good mood and as she kept telling us 'it's your doll, you can do what you want with it, you can't go wrong', we were soon bubbling.    Were we a success?  Judge for yourself  - I am quite happy with my end products, two pretty girls. 

Motanka means wound, or spun - and that's what you do, needles are not allowed to be used at all.  All material should be natural as it is only nature that gives energy.  Kateryna let use scissors although traditionally fabric would be torn and not cut as metal, not being natural, would also bring bad luck.  

(Click on the pictures to enlarge).

Kateryna, our patient teacher came prepared with stories as well as fabric

Traditionally dolls that are used for protection have no face.  Children would often draw a face though on the ones that were made for toys.

The body and clothes are made of several layers of pretty colourful fabric, cotton, linen and hemp.
Then we make the headscarf, an important part of any married woman's traditional covering in Ukraine.

Unbelievably we have time for a second one.  Now we add lace - this is the pretty girl, wearing her Sunday best. 

the fabric and our busy hands
the head and the body
the dress and apron


my two dolls on the left  - and the rest of the group's on the right

It is not easy to find information about Motanka in English but there is lots of interesting info about the origins, characterisctic features and symbology of the dolls as well as  an interview with the dollmaker Kateryna Volkova, here.

If you want to arrange a master class  with Kateryna, our instructor today, I will post her contact details on the Many Coloured Days facebook page.   I am definitely booking her for Tween-only-for-a-few-more-week's birthday next month.

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