January 14, 2022

Jean-Paul Baudoin, Maison décorée / Decorated house

pictures courtesy of Sophie Lepetit, from her weblog

Trentemoult is a small commune in France, located along the left bank of the Loire River, near the city of Nantes, which lies on the right bank. In a street in Trentemoult there is a house that has an exterior that is decorated with a variety of frescoes and sculptures.

Life and works

These decorations were added by Jean-Paul Baudoin, who lives in the house and has his workshop there.

Life and works

Baudoin was born in 1946. His father was a butcher who ran a shop on Place Delorme in Nantes, France.

After completing his primary education, Jean-Paul went to work in his father's business. He did so, although from a young age his heart went out to drawing and painting. Being active artistically was therefore an activity for the evening hours.

It is not known how long Baudoin combined his daily work in the butcher's shop and his evening creative activities, but at some point there was an intervention by a cousin who urged him to follow his heart, so actually entering the world of art and becoming a practicing artist.

Baudoin followed suit and probably in the late 1970s/early 1980s he began to manifest himself as a sculptor, painter and artisan potter.

As a potter, a craft he still practices, Baudoin focused on a style of work known as Old Quimper, creations of vases, cups and saucers decorated with hand-painted characters ("petit Bretons") in a style strongly influenced by traditional Brittany.

By working as potter he rediscovered the nature and meaning of the creative process: an  activity through which a living form springs from formless, inert clay.


In his fist period as an artist Baudoin also began making metal sculptures composed from pieces of iron or old tools welded together and finished with a cover in bright colors.

In 1987, when he was in his early 40s, the first exhibition of his artistic work took place from his home in Trentemoult.

From 1991 Baudoin also began making colorful images on cardboard and recycled paper, evoking, for example, a whole world dedicated to pagan female deities, such as Isis and Ishtar, but also fairies, mermaids and the heroes of the Arthurian legend.

Perhaps the early 1990s were also the time when he started to decorate the outside walls of his house (sources on the internet are inconclusive), because among the images several are dedicated to goddesses. 

These goddesses appear in the midst of an extensive arrangement of all kinds of colorful, mostly small-scale characters, captured in sculptures or frescoes. With his sometimes magical and kabbalistic-looking images, Baudoin is an artist who expresses the unusual in forms that nevertheless feel familiar.


* Article (January 2022) on the weblog of Sophie Lepetit, with a variety of pictures

* Photographs (January 2019) by Corinne Grassy Photography on Facebook

* Photographs and article (October 2011) by Claude Joannis on Flickr

Jean-Paul Baudoin

rue des 7 Maries

Trentemoult. Rezé, dept Loire-Atlantique, region Pays de la Loire, France

can be seen from the street


January 06, 2022

Ivan Pisarenko, Реплики кремлевской классики / Replicas of Kremlin classics

this picture and the next one: screenprints
from the video below

Khabarovsk is a large city in the Far East of the Russian Federation, located at the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers, near Russia's border with China.

In a street in a suburb of the city, a scene like the one pictured above can be seen from the street. An outer part of a house is decorated with replicas of buildings.

Life and works

About Ivan Pisarenko, the self-taught artist who made these creations, no much biographical information is available. He was probably born in the 1950s, had a job as a carpenter and apparently possessed rather good technical skills, because he had a workshop with professional technical equipment, such as a lathe. 

Once retired he got the idea to use his skill and equipment to make replicas of famous buildings in Moscow's Kremlin.

Pisarenko and a reporter  on the roof, 
looking at the Spasskaya tower
The Spasskaya Tower

His first creation was a replica of the 71 meter high Spasskaya Tower (Tower of the Savior), the main tower on the eastern wall of the Kremlin, built in 1491.

A comparison of the Wikipedia image of the tower -after its restoration in 2015- with the images of the tower in this blog, shows that the Pisarenko replica is very similar.

This is also demonstrated in the two images above, from the website Tutu Art 2021¹, that show how accurately Pisarenko has shaped the various decorative elements that adorn the tower.

The same goes for the large clock, which is characteristic of this building. In ancient times the clock of the Spasskaya Tower was the leading clock: its display of the time was fol owed by  all other clocks in Moscow.

The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed

The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, commonly known as Saint Basil's Cathedral, is also located in Moscow's Red Square. Built from 1555-1561 it was originally an orthodox church, now it is a museum,

this picture from the video below,
the next three from the Tutu Art 2021 website ¹ 
This was Pisarenko's second project, and it took him six months to complete it. 

The cathedral is made of plywood and polycarbonate, a virtually unbreakable type of plastic that can withstand both high and low temperatures.

The patterns on the domes are made from bits of colored tubes and bits of plastic, which he cut from some thirty plastic buckets. It was quite a task to visit so many hardware stores to find buckets in the right color.  

As the large image above in the middle shows, this replica is situated on the roof of the gazebo in the garden. A special facility allows the cathedral to rotate, a gesture for passers-by who can now see the replica from all sides.

And when it is dark, the creation will also be lit up.

Pisarenko's art environment was selected in 2021 to participate in a Most Valued Non-Professional Creation competition organised by Tutu, a Russian travel organisation

* Article (2021) and pictures on the website Tutu Art
* Article (November 2021) on the website Amur Media
* Article and video (2017) on the website of Vesti-Khabarovsk

* Video (undated) by Vesti Khabarovk (YouTube, 2'11")


¹ the website Tutu Art 2021reports about a competition among non-professional artists organised by the Tutu travel organisation

Ivan Pisarenko
Replicas of Kremlin classics

Khabarovsk, Far Eastern Federal District, Russian Federation

can be seen from the street

December 30, 2021

Galina Ivanova, Дом украшен капсулами / House decorated with bottle caps

pictures from website Tutu Art 2021, that reports about a 
competition among non-professional artists
organised by the Tutu travel organisation

Markovo is a village with about 750 inhabitants (in 2010), located in the Republic of Mari El, part of the Russian Federation, about 800 km east of Moscow. The elongated village consists of a number of houses, located to the left and right of a main road.

A self-decorated house

One of these houses attracts attention because of the colorful decorations that adorn the outside, a project undertaken in 2015 by Galina Ivanova, who lives in this house, 

Not much biographical information about Galina is available on the internet. 

It is mentioned that she is retired, and there is a second fact, very interesting from an art environments point of view: she is related to Tatyana Mikheeva, who is her aunt and who was presented earlier in this blog as creator of a house decorated with bottle caps.

Galina visited Tatyana in the early 2010s and she was apparently inspired by Tatyana's artistic creation, because when she was back in Markovo she decided to decorate her own house in the same way.

Galina started decorating her own house in 2015, the first subject being the image of a dog, placed on the right of the two windows of the house on the side of the road. 

After that, all kinds of images followed, such as swans, a horse, a butterfly, a rooster and also a variety of decorative patterns, all added to the exterior walls of the house. 

Meanwhile, the front and side walls have been fully decorated. and now a decoration has also appeared on the fence that separates the area next to the house from the street, a fence that offers space for more decorations.

Both Galina Ivanova's and Tatyana Mikheeva's site were selected in 2021 to participate in a Most Valued Non-Professional Creation competition organised by Tutu, a Russian travel organisation.

* Entry on the website Tutu Art 2021, with a series of pictures
* Short article (November 2021), mainly mentioning the Tutu competition, on website VNB
* Short article (April 2019) on the website of newspaper Seldon News

Galina Ivanova
House decorated with bottle caps
Village of Markovo, Orsha district, Republic of Mari El, Russia
can be seen from the street

December 23, 2021

Alexander Nemo, Замки, построенные вручную / Hand-built castles

this picture and the next two: screenprints from the 
video by Yakov Shtopor (see documentation)

This post is about a self-taught Russian artist, who focused on building castles. In this post, two of his works, set in different locations in Russia, are presented in full. The other creations he made, are mentioned briefly, because there is currently too little information available.

Life and works 

Alexander Nemo, who used this name as a pseudonym, grew up in Yekaterinburg. After secondary school he went to the Higher Military School in Riga, specializing in aviation engineering. 

This school in Riga had classrooms in the towers of an old medieval castle, an architecture that made a great impression on the young Nemo and instilled in him a love for the Middle Ages.

Nemo served in the army as an officer, in various places of the USSR, but left this job to become a forensic expert at Yekaterinburg's police force, an appointment he most likely retired from at age 45.

In the early 1990s he acquired a plot of land in Yekaterinburg where he built a house with a curious architecture, probably referring to a castle, that did not comply with the official regulations. Rather than spending money to adapt the house, he sold it, and -meanwhile retired- made a trip around Europe from the money. 

Although he had initially considered this, he did not settle somewhere in Western Europe, because he did not like the over-polished approach to medieval buildings. in the Western world.

A castle in the woods near Yekaterinburg

Once back, he decided to build a shelter in the forest and continue his life there, in particular to test his own strength in taking distance from civilization. That happened around the year 2000.

Nemo did indeed succeed in continuing life in this way.  

On a forest plot he did not own, using stones, clay and wood available around, he constructed a building, kind of a castle, with three floors, towers and turrets, transitional galleries and bridges. It had terraces and various interior rooms, such as a bedroom, a sauna, a workshop and a library.

The castle could be heated with a wood stove. There was obviously no electricity, but Nemo had rechargeable batteries working on solar cells, so he even had access to the internet.

Nemo stressed that his building was a castle and not a fortress. He had improvised kind of a cannon that could fire fireworks and ward off strangers, but above all had a decorative function.

The newspaper articles published in the autumn of 2009, report that around that time the owner of the plot of forest had claimed his property and that Nemo had indicated he would leave. He said that he would find a new home, this time a cave in an area further away from the urban civilization.

Nemo's castle in the woods meanwhile has been destroyed by young hooligans from the area.

The castle in Politodel

Nemo's next site was not a cave, but the grounds of a holiday park in Politodel, 50 km north of Omsk in the Asiatic part of Russia ¹.

this picture and the next  six from website Tutu Art 2021,
that reports about a competition among non-professional
artists organised by the Tutu travel organisation

In Politodel his lust for building once more took shape after he and the holiday park made an agreement about the construction of a castle on the grounds of the resort. 

Nemo asked no salary, but was content with board and lodging.

The exterior of the castle

In 2010, Alexander Nemo set to work on the resort's grounds and the accompanying images show a result that stands out indeed.

Visitors now see a castle with an architecture very similar to that of medieval buildings. There is a two-storey towery structure that protects the main entrance to the castle, in architectural terms a barbican. This building also serves as Nemo's summer residence. 

There is a moat with a bridge over it. And there's the castle itself, which looks like a large fortress with seemingly impenetrable fortress walls.

To build the castle, waste was used such as can be found in the landfill, especially bricks from demolished buildings, parts of old pipes, old metal plates, and the like.

The inside of the structure consists of a large wooden infrastructure against which the exterior walls are laid. The remaining space between the frame and the outer wall is filled with cement mortar. 

The wooden infrastructure is set up in such a way that it also includes the interior design, such as stairwells, corridors and rooms, and even an internal balcony, as can be seen in the image at the bottom of this article.

The building process did not proceed according to a pre-established schedule, as Nemo explained in an interview: 

My construction technique is associative. Like a tree grows. Does a tree grow according to a plan? As a tree grows, so does the castle. I don't know what tomorrow will be. Every day can be different.. Built, rebuilt. Extended-narrowed. Here I broke something down, there I made it again. I do what comes to my mind

The interior

Nemo also put a lot of effort into the decoration of the interior. 

The ground floor of the castle has no windows, which means there is little light and one feels like in the twilight of the Middle Ages. The upper floor of the castle has many windows and is a lot lighter.

At the very top of the castle there is a throne room, with indeed a throne, but also a small organ, built by hand by Nemo. He taught himself to play the piano and the guitar, just because he liked it.

Nemo also made all kinds of weapons from scrap, such as swords, epees, sabers, pistols, halberds and crossbows. These weapons, indistinguishable from real ones, hang on the walls, and are sometimes used in a playful way.

He also makes knight armor and historical costumes. which he wears himself or are shown on mannequins.

The castle is protected by two cannons placed in front of an embrasure. Handcrafted from cartwheels and pipes, they face the river Irtysh in case enemy ships approach, which then can be repelled with fireworks.

 picture: screenprint from the NGS55 video below

Nemo's Castle in Politodel was selected in 2021 to participate in a Most Valued Non-Professional Creation competition organised by Tutu, a Russian travel organisation.

- about the site in the woods near Yekaterinburg
Article (October 2009) on news website e1.ru
Article by olgavch (October 2009) on LiveJournal
- about the castle on the grounds of Politodel
* Entry (April 2021) on the website Tutu Art 
Article (September 2019) on the website of newspaper NGS55, with a series of photos
* Article (October 2019) on the website of newspaper 1-12-kanal-ru, with a video 
* Article (April 2019) on the website of newspaper RGRU

- about the site in the woods near Yekaterinburg

* Video by Yakov Shtopor (2'47", YouTube, uploaded April 2012)


- about the site on the grounds of Politodel

Video by newspaper NGS55  (YouTube, September 2019, 1'17")

* Video by Realii (April 2019, YouTube, 1'16")

 ¹ Characteristic sites in the Asian part of the Russian Federation are included in this weblog in order to give a balanced and coherent picture of the entire field of Russian art environments.

Alexander Nemo
Castle in the forest
in a wooded area between 
Yekaterinburg and Verkhnyaya Pyshmain
Sverdlovsk region, Russia
site demolished
Castle in Politodel
Politodel, Omsk region, Russia
visitors are welcome

December 18, 2021

Tatyana Mikheeva, Дом украшен крышками от бутылок / House decorated with bottle caps

pictures from website Tutu Art 2021, that reports about a 
competition among non-professional artists
organised by the Tutu travel organisation

Sychevka is a small, rural village with nine streets and some 580 inhabitants, located in the Svobodnensky district in the Amur region in the Far East of Russia [1]. The village is home to a a house and adjacent small buildings in the garden that have been decorated with colorful bottle caps.

Life and works

This capsule cover was applied by Tatyana Mikheeva, who started the project around 2000, when she and her husband came to live in Sychevka. 

The immediate reason for the project was that planks used as walkways in the garden, got moldered in some places. To remedy that, Tatyana and her husband covered those spots with bits of plastic, cut from plastic bottles.

This inspired her to use plastic bottle caps to decorate the exterior walls of the house. Once started she couldn't stop and it became a project that would keep Tatyana busy for many years to come.

More than 32,000 bottles and kilograms of tiny nails have been used to decorate the exterior walls of the house and adjacent buildings. Her husband worked as a railway machinist and was often away from home, so most of the decorative work was done by Tatyana.

The villagers were skeptical at first, but once they got used to the capsule cover, they would help collect bottles and when they had visitors from elsewhere, show them the decorated house.

Tatyana came up with the design of the decorations herself. She chalked it up to the wall and then proceeded to fill it systematically, capsule after capsule.

This with the exception of the large, elongated panel with swans, the design of which was offered by a professional artist.

In 2010, Galina Ivanova from the village of Markovo in the Mari El Republic of Russia, visited Tatyana Mikheeva, who is her family, and was apparently so inspired by the decorations that she started to decorate her own house in the same way.

In the late 2021st, the Russian travel company Tutu organized a competition in episodes, each time showing a number of special, out-of-the-art creations, about which the public was allowed to express preferences. 

In the November 2021 round, Tatyana Mikheeva's site was nominated, but she did not receive the most votes.

* Article (February 2014) on the website of newspaper Amur Info
Article (June 2020) by Anna Azanova on the website My Madonna
* Article (November 2021) on the website of newspaper Port Amur
* Article (February 2014) on the website of OTR TV, with a video

* Video by Amurlife TV (August 2020, YouTube, 3'50")

* Video (February 2014) on the website of OTR TV

[1] Characteristic sites in the Asian part of the Russian Federation are included in this weblog in order to give a balanced and coherent picture of the entire field of Russian art environments:

Tatyana Mikheeva
House decorated with bottle caps
Village of Sychevka, Svobodnensky District, Amur region, Russia
can be seen from the road 

December 11, 2021

Alexander Kalinin, Уникальная архитектура / Singular architecture

pictures: screenprints from the video below
pictures: screenprints from the 2020 video below

The city of Valday, with some 16.00 inhabitants, is located in the region Novgorod in Russia, around 400 km north-west of Moscow. In this city a rather special singular architecture can be seen from the street, a project undertaken by Alexander Kalinin, who hasn't any training as an architect.

Life and works 

Kalinin was born around 1970. In his younger years he loved to do crafts, for example he put together a moped himself. But he also loved drawing and took painting lessons.

After military service, he wanted to study art, but perestroika began and he responded to the challenges that arose during that period. He went into business.

At the end of the 1990s, the enthusiasm was over and Kalinin wanted to return to the world of art.

He remained a businessman, but also made paintings. 

And in 2004 he started a major architectural project, building a house with an artistic look, both inside and outside. The building has such a specific design that in terms of art environments it is a singular architecture. 

Seen from the outside, the specific character of the building is particularly apparent in the decorative metal elements on the roof and also in the sculptures and other ways of design that adorn the facade of the house. 


The front of the house has in its center a large window that is semicircular at the top. It is flanked on either side by caryatids, shaped after the effigy of Kalinin's wife. These life-size sculptures bear a semicircular arch on which two winged angels rest, as in the picture below.

All sculptures are cast from a special mixture, which also contains cement.

The glasses in the windows have such specific shapes that it was difficult for Kalinin to find a supplier who could offer these glasses.

The left side of the facade is decorated with a semicircular extension, above which is a partly stone, partly metal construction, with at it's very top has a weather vane (which cannot move, however).

The right side of the facade is round in shape and forms the underside of a tower, This extension is surmounted by a belvédère, a viewpoint topped by a dome decorated with a spire.

The dome is made of beaten copper, covered with an antique patina, giving the appearance that the spire is a few hundred years old.

On the inside of the house, the ground floor is ready and already equipped with underfloor heating, which offers a pleasant atmosphere.

In addition to a separate room, the ground floor includes a large hall with a huge fireplace, like the open mouth of a dragon. There is also a large classical style painting in the hall, as can be seen in the image above.

By the end of 2021, when this text appears, plans for the layout of the upper floor are still to be realized, as well as the idea of painting the outer wall in four light colors -beige, yellow, ivory and lilac- this to improve the visibility of the details of the decorations.

Indeed, still plenty of work to be done.....

Article (September 2020) in regional newspaper Vesti-Veliki Novgorod
* Article (December 2020) on Yandex
* Article (January 2017) on website Valday with tourist information
* Article (September 2021) on the website of Novgorod Regional TV
* Website Pikabu with some informative photos of the architecture

* Video by regional TV Slavia (YouTube, 2'39", September 2020).

* Video by Novgorod Regional TV (YouTube, 3'05". September 2021

Alexander Kalinin
Singular Architecture
Oktyabrskaya Street
Valdai, region Novgorod, Russia
can be seen from the street

December 04, 2021

Isidore Kriesten and successors, Ogród Bajek / Fairy Tale Garden

colored images are screenprints from the video below

The colored images in this post show the fairytale characters as they populate this fairytale garden today. 

But this site has a history of more than a hundred years, and after phases of neglect it has been redesigned several times, often accompanied by the appearance of new figures.

this picture and the next one from old postcards

The story begins after the end of the First World War (1914-1918).  

Some time after the war had ended, Isidore Kriesten, a forest worker and botanist, started making sculptures of fairytale characters, this to pay tribute to the phenomenon of fairy tales and the almighty Spirit of the Mountains. The sculptures got a place in his garden, named Waldmuseum zum  Berggeist (Forest Museum of the Mountain Spirit).

The garden also had small cabins and a welcome sign above a wooden bench, as can be seen in the accompanying uncolored images.

Kriesten lived in a self-built house outside the village of Wölfelsgrund, located on German territory in the years before 1945. After the Second World War by decision at the Yalta conference, there was a border change, and the village became Polish. renamed Międzygórze. 

The village has many houses built in Tyrolean style. Located in the Southern Sudeten, the landscape around is rather rocky. Międzygórze is at an altitude of 680 meters and the sculpture garden is situated between 20 and 30  meters higher.

Seen from the point of view of this weblog - an inventory and documentation of art environments in Europe - most attention should be paid to the creation as it was made by Kriesten. 

Although old postcards and photos of the site are available on the internet, informative texts about his life and works are missing there. All we know is that he worked on the site for about twenty years.

This means that around 1940 he stopped developing or maintaining the sculpture garden. Kriesten may have died around that time or somewhat later. If so, he did not experience the post-war change of the location of the site from Germany to Poland.

A number of successors

Three phases can be distinguished in the history of further concern with Kriesten's art environment.

The first phase covers the period 1940-1974. It is known that in those years the site was maintained by some interested individuals, first Mr. Bobrowski and his family, then Mr. Zubilewicz, a carpenter..

About this period there is also no further information .

A second phase runs from 1974 to 1981. Then the garden was under the care of a group of boy scouts.

Old houses were rebuilt and new houses were added, such as those of Baba Yaga and Snow White. New characters were also added, such as the mountain spirit Rumcajs, the Three-Headed Dragon and the Knight Errant.

In 1981 this involvement of boy scouts ended and the site the site got neglected.

The third phase began in 1985 and continues to this day.

The initiative came from Jerzy Drążkowski, actively involved in the local branch of the PTTK (Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society), accountant by profession, but also a passionate amateur sculptor who created all kinds of fairytale characters.

Financially supported by the local government of Bystrzyca Kłodzka, a village near Międzygorze, he tackled the renovation together with other enthusiastic volunteers, such as Jerzy Kral, Czesław Zawojsk and Jan Walorczyk. A new fence, retaining walls and new paths were built, houses were covered with appropriate roofs, and many shrubs and trees were planted,

Jerzy Kral made an exact stone replica of the former tower of the village of Śnieżnik near Międzygórze, which was blown up in 1973 due to its poor technical condition. Czesław Zawojski produced informative texts burned in wooden tablets that were placed near all kinds of items in the site. Jan Walorczyk took care of management aspects, such as arranging ticket sales

In the presence of a granddaughter of Isidore Kriesten, the renovated garden, now with an area of 2300 m²,  was officially opened on September 14, 1986. Gradually, the fairy garden became a popular destination, especially for parents with small children.

An impression of the fairytale characters in the garden

The  garden currently presents sculptures of fairytale characters from many corners of the world, including characters from Polish stories, such as: 
  • Koziołek Matołek the goat, one of the first children's stories in Poland, published in 1932
  • Koszałek Opałek, a dwarf, the hero of Maria Konopnicka's novel about dwarfs and the orphan Marysia 
  • this Marysia is also the main character in the Polish film Marysia and the Dwarfs (1960) and she is also part of the collection of sculptures
  • Bolek and Olek, a Polish animated film series, running from 1962
  • Reksio, a Polish cartoon character from an animated TV series that started in 1967

There are of course also characters from fairy tales that are mainly known in Eastern Europe and Russia, such as:
  • Baba Yaga, one of the most memorable and distinctive figures in eastern European and Russian folklore, a supernatural being that can take on all kinds of guises
  • Masha with the bear, a popular Russian TV series with almost 80 episodes from 2009
And then there are the characters from stories known in East and West, such as:
  • Little Red Riding Hood, dating from the 17th century
  • Cat on boots, most famous version written in 1697 by Charles Perrault
  • Hansel and Gretel, written and published in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm
  • Pinocchio, a character that first appeared in episodes in the years 1881-1883
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, a classic, filmed in 1937 in an American animated movie
  • Smurfs, known through comic books and animated series
And finally an important character in the mountainous environment of the fairy garden: 
  • Spirit of the Liczyrzepa Mountains, a character known in Poland, dating back to the Middle Ages

As is the case with a number of art environments elsewhere in Europe, this garden has acquired a touristic character and attracts many visitors

* Website of the PTTK with a page about the site 
* Google Maps with the location of the site and a variety of photographs
* Website of the community of Bystrzyca Kłodzka with a series of pictures of the site

* Video by Marina Kalinowska on YouTube, April 2019, 12'56" (viewing the video on weblogs has been turned off by its creator)

Isidore Kriesten and successors
Fairy Tale Garden
Międzygórze, dept Kłodzko,  region Lower Silesia, Poland 
all year open for the public