Bears in Norilsk sculpture history
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Bears in Norilsk sculpture history

June 09, 2021

The ‘clubfoot’ theme was one of the first to decorate the streets of the city.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. If we count all the bearish variations that stood in Norilsk in different years, it becomes clear why it was the polar bear that found refuge on the Norilsk coat of arms.

Back in the mid-1940s, four plaster bears were placed at the fountain at the Dynamo Stadium in the Old Town. Not far from them was the fifth one: a full-length white bear in those years stood in front of the big gym, now it is the House of Physical Culture. The bear was holding a ball in its paws, which symbolized the love of the northerners for sports.

The sixth bear was especially interesting. First, he did not just stand, but posed in a very naturalistic way: he held a seal in his paws and did not hide his bloodthirsty intentions towards it. Second, he moved around the city.
In the summer of 1958, it was temporarily placed on Gvardeyskaya square instead of a seasonal flowerpot. Then it moved to Komsomolsky park, where it settled down behind the city pool and ‘admired’ the view of Dolgoye lake.

The Norilsk people loved to take photos with the bears as an integral feature of the Far North.

Even now in Norilsk there are two sculptures of bears at once. In July 2008, a female bear made of white concrete appeared on the Metallurgists square. It was manufactured at the Vyatkastroydetal plant as part of the Parallel World project. The authors are designer Alexander Sobolev and architect Irina Soboleva.

Not far from the place where the sculpture was installed, in the house at 17 Metallurgists street, once lived a famous Norilsk resident, the author of films about animals in the Arctic, Yury Ledin, who kept a living prototype of the sculpture in his apartment. In 1974, the Norilsk residents watched with delight how he walked the teddy bear Aika, the hero of his films.

Another polar bear – also Aika – appeared literally this winter near the sports hall of the same name.

For other issues of our photo project about the history of the city and the combine, go to the History spot section.

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Text: Svetlana Samohina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive

June 09, 2021

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