Wooden Churches âÂ Travelling in the Russian North
Richard Davies, Matilda Moreton,Â afterword by Mikhail Milchik
â80% of Russian wooden architecture that existed pre-1917, no longer exists. But luckily, there is still something left to fight for.â
Professor Vyacheslav Petrovich Orfinsky, Architecture Department, Petrozavodsk State University, August 2008
The photographs in this book have been taken overÂ a period of nine years. These churches are the remnants of thousands that were built all over Russia from the time of Prince Vladimir, who, on his conversion to Christianity in 988, âordained that wooden churches should be built and established where pagan idols had previously stood.â
Most of those that survive are to be found in the sparsely populated north-western corner of Russia â specifically,Â in the Leningrad, Vologda, Murmansk, and Archangel Regions and the Republic of Karelia. The area is vast and many thousands of miles have been travelled by car, jeep, aeroplane, boat, train, snowmobile, sledge and foot to track them down.
These fragile, desecrated structures retain a spiritual presence that commands respect even in the absence of their gilded icons. They are nearing the end of their days. It is extraordinary that a country as rich and powerful as Russia, with a cultural legacy beyond compare, should let these wonderful, life-enhancing treasures slip through its fingers.
Along with the photographs of Richard Davies, there are first-hand accounts by Matilda Moreton of their journeys, and the insights and interpretations of writers and artists, travellers and historians, propagandists and politicians.
âWooden architecture, the most original and most unique part of the cultural heritage of Russia, is on the verge of total extinction.â
Mikhail Milchik, St Petersburg, October 2011
White Sea Publishing, London, December 2011
(Hardcover 256 pages / dimensions 260 x 305 mm)
ISBN 978 0 9570456 0 6
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