‘Despite its vulnerability to fire, damp and rot, wood is a durable material that, over time, can become almost as hard as steel. From medieval barns to 17th-century log churches, timber structures have survived across Northern Europe over centuries’
Open Democracy â 30th March 2012 â The tragedy of Russia’s abandoned wooden churches â Alexander MozhayevMarch 30th, 2012 by Richard Davies
âThe Russian mentality has developed to understand “old” as something that is out of dateâ¦ Some years ago, the abbot of a monastery was asked why he had knocked down the porch of his 300-year-old church, and he replied as honestly as he could: “Because it was old!”â
In the Afterword to the recently published book ‘Wooden Churches’ Mikhail Milchik writes about the state of wooden architecture in Russia – he gives many reasons for its demise then says ‘finally, and possibly the most important reason, is the almost total indifference towards the fate of the national cultural heritage, that reigns in Russian society, from top to bottom.’
Looking through a book of Russian Revolutionary posters I came across a wonderful image by Viktor Deni from 1920 which I asked my friend Peter Brookes, the political cartoonist on The Times newspaper to reinterpret.
In Deni’s image the victim is Capitalism, the hour hand threat is CommunismÂ - Capitalism has they say survived for the moment. In Peter’s cartoon the victim is wooden architecture, the threat indifference. Let us hope that the message of Peterâs cartoon will be as wrong as Deniâs and that we will not be the last generation to experience these unique buildings as Mikhail has dolefully predicted….
Russian BookWorld â 11th March 2012
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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.
White Sea Publishing, London, December 2011
(Hardcover 256 pages / dimensions 260 x 305 mm)
ISBN 978 0 9570456 0 6
The book is available at amazon.co.uk from the seller white sea – the book is stocked by Daunt Books at their Marylebone, Chelsea, Hampstead and Holland Park branches. It is also held at Waterstones, at their Piccadilly branch and at Pushkin House, 5A Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2TA
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The book is priced at Â£50.00