#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. The Norilsk Nickel announced the start of Star Corporation – the annual festival of creativity for its employees – in March 2020: in the musical and artistic direction and in applied arts.
As a rule, there are a lot of proposals, and there are quite unusual genres: sculpture of small forms, academic sculpture, jewelry art, sculptural jewelry techniques, hand-forged elements, casting, chasing, bone carving, costume design.
Victoria Popova, winner of the Grand Prix of the festival, distinguished herself in the unusual direction of woodcarving.
She had worked in Nornickel for 35 years. The award in the Stars Corporation became one of the last that Victoria received on the Northern land: not long ago she and her family moved to St. Petersburg. Where, by the way, she is not going to forget about her hobby.
She insists that woodcarving is a hobby, explaining that it needs inspiration and ideas.
“Before I start carving, I take a long look at the selected wood, listen to it: what exactly it wants to become. Wood is hard to get in Norilsk. Once I cut out spoons, and friends sent me certain wood, several species from St. Petersburg”.
There is no favorite wood for work, for each work different breed is needed Victoria believes. Most often, carvers work with linden, but Victoria likes it when the wood ‘draws itself’ – it shows what can be obtained from the sinuosity of wood, knotty, sludge of resin. All this constitutes the canvas on which the drawing, prompted by the nature of the wood, lies.
The carver’s favorite theme is the image of a person, inspiration is given by a long-standing love for sculpture and admiration for the natural proportions of the human body, which, according to Victoria, is beautiful in itself. But among her works there are images of nature, as well as household items: salt and pepper shakers, spoons. Unusual little things attract the eye, but she never planned to sell them, gives her favorite works to her friends.
It all started in childhood, at the Kayerkan art school. Modeling skills and a sense of form are from there. Victoria says her parents still keep her first work – a man’s face carved in the can opener handle with a simple kitchen knife.
Only a few years ago, she began to acquire special tools for carving wood crafts.
Victoria did not advertise her hobby, only a few knew about it, and one of her colleagues offered to take part in the Stars Corporation festival.
Victoria decided that she would exhibit the work called Blizzard in the Applied Art category. But a chance changed everything. One day her husband was chopping wood for a bath. One log of old larch was impossible to be cut. Victoria took it in her hands and could not burn it: put it on the table and admired it for a long time.
“I looked at it for a long time, asked my family what they see in it. And then I saw a ‘wing’. In the process of carving, an old man appeared, tired but not broken. Its body was dark tar and its wings were light and white. This is how the Spirit of the North was born from a piece of an old tie, found once on a walk in the vastness of the tundra”.
As Victoria jokes, the sleeper turned out to have character. Initially the sculpture got the name Angel of the North, but her son suggested calling the work the Spirit of the North, which, in his opinion, was more suitable.
“I showed both works to the organizers of the competition, but they chose the Spirit of the North. Apparently, it turned out to be so strong in message that people liked it, and they began to vote. The Grand Prix of the competition came as a complete surprise to me. In general, there were many good works and a very strong competition, well-organized, for which I want to thank both the organizers and those who participated in it, showing the full breadth of their creative soul”, says Victoria.
Today, living in the northern capital, our heroine, as she says, continues to look around, exploring her new place of residence, and looking for the world under her feet. New cutters are already being purchased for work, which means that the hobby will continue. There are some ideas, the main thing is to get inspiration.
Text: Maria Sokolova, Photo: from the personal archive of Victoria Popova