March 5, 2010

Richard Davies Photo Exhibition: Wooden Churches. Travelling in the Russian North

Photography Exhibition > Richard Davies
Photography Exhibition > Finland > Helsinki > Museum of Finnish Architecture

Wooden Churches. Travelling in the Russian North
Photographs by Richard Davies

Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki

10 March - 30 May 2010

 

Church of the Transfiguration (1781), Turchasovo, Onega district, Arkhangel region - Photograph by Richard Davies

Church of the Transfiguration (1781), Turchasovo, Onega district, Arkhangel region
Photo: RICHARD DAVIES, March 2006
Courtesy Museum of Finnish Architecture

 

Postcards from some hundred years back inspired English photographer RICHARD DAVIES to travel to northern Russia in 2002 to find out what was left of the wooden churches depicted in the cards. The churches had been photographed by the Russian artist Ivan Bilibin in 1902-1904, and already then the photographer had been worried about their condition. The cards had been published in 1911 by a Russian charity in order to raise money for its work.

 

Church of the Assumption (1774), Kontupohja, Kondopoga district, Karelia - Photograph by Richard Davies

Church of the Assumption (1774), Kontupohja, Kondopoga district, Karelia
Photo: RICHARD DAVIES, August 2006
Courtesy Museum of Finnish Architecture

 

Richard Davies has made further trips every year. Many churches have been lost. Those that remain are in varying states of decay – through neglect and the stripping, looting and wrecking of interiors – and sadly many are beyond repair. Still, much is left to celebrate. The integrity between the landscape and the architecture is as striking as before, the simple log cabin construction with extravagant decorations is just as startling, and even in decay these churches have a spiritual presence commanding respect.

 

Church of St Alexander Svirsky (1769), Kosmozero, Medvezhegorsk district, Karelia - Photograph by Richard Davies

Church of St Alexander Svirsky (1769), Kosmozero, Medvezhegorsk district, Karelia
Photo: RICHARD DAVIES, August 2006
Courtesy Museum of Finnish Architecture

 

The oldest of the churches and chapels on display have been dated back to the 16th century, the youngest to the 19th, and most to the 17th and 18th centuries. They are located in the Republic of Karelia and in the regions of Archangel, Murmansk, Vologda and Leningrad. The exhibition includes a Finnish contribution comprising art historical research material, such as photographs and measuring drawings, collected by professor Lars Pettersson in war front in Karelia in 1943-1944.

 

Church of the Resurrection (1766), Rakula, Kholmogorsky district, Arkhangel region - Photograph by Richard Davies

Church of the Resurrection (1766), Rakula, Kholmogorsky district, Arkhangel region
Photo: RICHARD DAVIES, March 2005
Courtesy Museum of Finnish Architecture

 

The exhibition has been produced by Richard Davies and Matilda Moreton.

Suomen Rakennustaiteen Museo - Museum of Finnish Architecture
Kasarmikatu 24
00130 Helsinki
Finland

www.mfa.fi

Permanent exhibition: Decades of Finnish Architecture 1900-1970
27 March 2010 - 31 December 2020

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