May 05, 2021

Kahl, Chalet Enchantée / Enchanted Chalet

all pictures, except the one of the summer-market,
from Facebook

The small town of Valence d'Agen, a community with about 5,000 inhabitants in the south of France, can feel happy that an exceptionally colorful art environment was begun the past year (2020) , a year that was also characterized by a pandemic which brought a lot of grief and limitations. It is a site created with the aim to propagate Bonheur (Happiness) ...

Life and work

The site is being developed by a female artist in the field of what in France is referred to as art singulier.  She calls herself Kahl, which is a pseudonym formed by a number of letters of her real name.

two videos showing mobile creations

Born in 1965 in Troyes, in the north east of France, it was not obvious that she would work in a creative setting, and initially, because of her studies, she had very different work, such as activities in the fields of communication and the education of children.

However, she began to feel more and more that there was another direction ahead for her, more artistic, and especially in the direction of art singulier.

As she said: Mon parcours de vie m'a guidé sur ce chemin que je n'envisageais pas et voilà ... C'était écrit quelque part ....(My life journey has guided me on this path that I did not envision and here it is ... It was written somewhere ....)

She overcame a disease and after great efforts and thanks to a strong character she felt reborn, able to take a New Beautiful Color Path.

In the late 1990s she moved from Troyes to La Rochelle, on the French west coast. There she opened a small art gallery, where she sold works of art singular artists. 

She started painting herself and signed her paintings with the pseudonym KAHL. And then, it turned out that many people, not knowing that Kahl was the owner of the gallery, were interested in her paintings which they valued as attractive work full of color, made by an artist with a distinctly feminine palette.

Stimulated by the apparent appreciation of her work by visitors to the gallery, Kahl began to give painting an important place in her life. She participated in exhibitions and the appreciation of her work continued unabated. It was also a nice experience that the characterization feminine palette  turned out to be correct when, for example, at awards ceremonies after participating exhibitions, she publicly announced that she was the artist named Kahl.

In 2008 she was awarded the first prize in La Rochelle's Festival d'Art.

Move to the area of Tarn et Garonne

In 2010, Kahl moved from La Rochelle to the Tarn et Garonne region, an area in the south of France she had met many years earlier while on holiday. She went to live in Bardigues, a community about 10 kilometers south of Valence d'Agen, where she later would establish the art environment that ultimately gave rise to her presence in this weblog.

She became a well-known artist in the area, which she crossed with a van full of paintings, her own work and that of others, to sell at markets in various villages and towns around.
photo of a summer market in 2013 on the Place Nationale 
in Valence with paintings by Kahl on sale
(photo from weblog

In 2017, she had to temporarily interrupt her busy work to undergo surgery because of a cardio problem and a back ailment, but after that rest she was able to quickly return to her places in markets and in the art trade.

In many places in the region she also was active in giving painting lessons, especially to children, in participating in exhibitions and with the sale of paintings in art galleries, the latter for example from May 2019 in the Galerie d Art Singulier on the Rue Notre Dame nr 1 in Valence d'Agen.

Then, in early 2020, she took a new step in her development as an artist. She left the gallery and moved into new accommodation.

This new accommodation was a free-standing building in the style of a chalet, situated on a generously sized lawn in the vicinity of a McDonald's in Valence d'Agen.

The walls in the interior of the chalet are fully occupied by Kahl's paintings, and maybe also those of other artists, just as was the case in the galleries she managed. 

It is the outdoor space where the difference with the past manifests itself.

The images in this post show that now also large-scale creations, often more than man-sized, have become part of Kahl's creative activities.

Some of these rising creations represent more or less human characters, others consist of colorful poles with a wheel placed horizontally at the top, and they all have a cheerful appearance, full of bright colors, smiling faces, whatever,  and in any case they are composed of recycled material (Récup, in French). 

In addition, many of the creations have a lively character, with elements that move up and down in the wind, rotate or they move as its suits.

The outside space, where Kahl's green-decorated van has a place too, now also includes items such as flower boxes, a decorated chair, panels with texts ...

It is almost unbelievable to see how, in about a year's time, an ordinary piece of grassland has turned into an attractive, cheerful and happiness-radiating art environment where visitors are welcome.

* Kahl's website (with pictures of her paintings and the creations in the garden)
* Kahl's page on Facebook

Enchanted Chalet
rue du Cluzel
82400 Valence d'Agen, dept Tarn et Garonne, region Occitanie
can be seen from the street and can be visited 
visiting hours 10-12.30 and 15.30-17.30

April 30, 2021

Gustaf Nagel, Paradiesgarten / Paradise garden

old postcard showing the jetty and the temple

Arendsee, a community of some 6700 inhabitants in Germany, was home to a singular architecture and sculpture garden that was single-handedly built in the first decades of the 20th century by Gustaf Nagel, a preacher and naturopath.

Life and works

Gustaf Nagel was born in a well to do family on March 28, 1874 in Werben along he Elbe River, a community some 40 km east of Arendsee. His father was a merchant, and when he was 14 years old young Gustaf started an education to become a merchant too. After some time he had to stop because of serious health complaints, from which he only recovered after he had been treated in 1892 by the naturopath Kneipp (1821-1897).

He was now 18 years old and apparently impressed by his recovery from Kneipp's naturopathy, he changed his lifestyle, started to walk barefoot, let his hair and beard grow out, and dressed in a long robe or loincloth. In 1894 he also became a vegetarian.

old postcard dating from 1929 showing 
Nagel in his Paradise

Nagel subsequently developed into an expert in the field of natural life. He traveled around Germany to spread his message as a preacher and to sell his writings at meetings that often attracted a lot of interested people.

His lifestyle and message was not appreciated by everyone and in August 1900, when he was 26 years old, the Arendsee District Court declared him incapacitated for work.

Nagel's wandering years came to a head when he visited Jerusalem in 1903. In the same year he succeeded in obtaining judicial annulment of his incapacity.

In 1904 he married Marie Konhäuser. During the marriage, that lasted until 1907, a son was born who was not recognized by Nagel.

unless stated otherwise the pictures are licensed 
to be used under Wikimedia Commons

In 1910 Nagel's traveling period ended and from the income he had earned during that period he bought a piece of land in the community of Arendsee, a site along the lake from which the community takes is name. 

Creating Paradise Garden

Starting in 1910, Nagel would for about 20 years be active in transforming the site into a spot where like-minded people in terms of life- and world view. would feel welcome.

In doing so, he did not work functionally, but allowed himself to be guided by his way of thinking and feeling.

This appears from one of the first creations he took up, referred to by him as Sailor's Grave, a memorial with a cross, a heart and an anchor as symbols of faith, love and hope, surrounded by a fence made of birch trunks. This creation was ceremonially inaugurated on July 10, 1910. 

The image below shows that this simple monument still exists today, albeit somewhat battered.

the sailor's grave currently still exists

Also one of the first projects was a simple barrack to live in, first alone and from 1912 with his second wife Johanna Raith and later three children (the marriage would fail in 1926).

One of the larger projects was the Temple, now in ruins. Its construction started in 1917.The very first photo shows that the building was located along the lake, close to the jetty with four columns shaped to express fertility and a baptismal font. The temple stands on seven comparable columns. Because the windows of the temple had different colors of glass, visitors could see the lake in different shades.

Under the temple was a cave made of cement and boulders. In the cave was a picture of Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), the statesman who in 1871 brought about the unity of German states and was Germany's first chancellor for almost twenty years. An inscription above his head read Fear God.

There was also an image of the eternal fire in hell, made of red serrated metal strips surrounded by pieces of charcoal. The top was decorated with angelic heads and an inscription at the bottom said Be German.

In addition to the temple, Nagel also built other accommodations, such as a Spa hall, with spaces for taking bubble baths and facilities for taking a sun bath. He made a building that provided space for a harmonium and he also made a shelter for the swans that resided in the lake. On the premises there was a stall where homemade juices and other natural products were offered for consumption.

The grounds of Paradise Garden featured various decorative items such as seating areas, a sculpture of Jesus and as main items a number of standing columns, which currently still exist  as shown in the image above.

In the 1920s the site became a huge success

After a somewhat hesitant start, Paradise Garden became a great success, especially in the 1920s, with thousands of visitors every year, who came from all over Germany. The Garden had become kind of a pilgrimage site.

The residents of Arendsee were divided about Paradise Garden. Some had problems with Nagel's views and lifestyle, others valued him as at times the city's largest taxpayer.

This divide became apparent when Nagel in he late 1920s submitted a plan to the local authorities to build a Cure Hall. The authorities initially responded with a construction freeze, but after a petition from a group of citizens pointing out the income from tourism and the benefits for the municipal finances thanks to the Garden, the building permit was granted.

Kursaal (Cure hall)

Built on a steep bank of the lake, the Kursaal (Cure Hall) was a polygonal building, made from brick with on the edges pillars made from concrete.

The building was inaugurated Christmas 1930. As the image above shows, it currently still exists.

The site can be classified as an art environment

Overlooking the style of the various buildings, in German reviews of the site described as small organic architecture, and the various sculptural items in the exterior, the site can be classified as an art environment in the quality of singular architecture in a sculpture garden.

A classification as art environment will not easily be made in Germany itself, because this country has such a small number of such sites that here this type of artistic creation in general is not seen as a phenomenon in its own right.

Seen from a broader European perspective, the classification is obvious. There are also some striking similarities between Gustav Nagel and a self-taught artist working in Spain, namely Manfred Gnädinger (1936-2002), who created an art environment at the edge of the ocean in a Spanish coastal town. 

Both men were of German origin, had a vegetarian lifestyle, were scantily dressed (Gnädinger walked around in just a loincloth) and lived in a self-built cabin. Both decorated the outdoor space with stone sculptures, the only difference being that Nagel made columns and Gnädinger made creations from stacked stones.

The 1930s and later

The political developments in Germany in the 1930s did not leave Nagel untouched.  In the propagation of his vision of human existence, political questions were not avoided. On the contrary, already in 1924 Nagel had founded a political party, the Deutsch-kristliche mittelstands-Volksspartei (German-Christian Middle-Class People's-Party), which took part in the elections of the German parliament, incidentally with little result.

In the parliamentary elections in 1933, the year in which Hitler took power, the majority of the inhabitants of Arendsee voted for his party, the NSDAP.

From the moment Hitler came to power, Nagel was critical of his politics, especially with regard to the persecution of Jews. In 1938, Nagels books were banned. In 1940 Paradise Garden was closed for the public and in the night of 15 to 16 July 1942, members of a youth association related to the NSDAP destroyed the interior of the Temple and the Harmonium building.

From 1938 until 1941 Nagel was married for the third time. This marriage ended in lawsuits by both parties. In 1943 Nagel was locked up in the Dachau concentration camp, from which he after some time was released because of an intervention by a lieutenant from Arendsee who informed his superior general that Nagel's sons were fighting at the front during the war. The general agreed that such a man should not be in a concentration camp and got Nagel out of it.

After the war, Nagel was recognized as an anti-fascist, but subsequently he spoke out publicly against the partition of Germany, with Arendsee becoming part of the Soviet-Russian zone of occupation. 

When he invited the inhabitants of Arendsee to attend the coronation of a German king, a ceremony that he himself had arranged by way of protest, the Soviet-Russian authorities were not amused. As a result, in September 1950 at the age of 76 by order of these authorities he was forcibly included in a psychiatric institution.  

His request to spend the last of his old age in his accommodation in the Paradise Garden was not honored and he died, mentally broken and lonely, in the institution on February 15, 1952.  His son arranged that his body was transported to Arendsee, where he was buried in the local cemetery

Actual situation

Nagel's heirs waived their rights to the site. For some time the city took care of the site and today (2021) the site is managed by the gustaf nagel förderferein ef, which was founded in 1999. It now is kind of a public park and can be visited freely.

In 1999 it was 125 years ago that Nagel was born. The German Vegetarian Association organized a memorial meeting where a number of speakers discussed the importance of Nagel in the light of current insights (see the article by Margarete Hille in the documentation)

Article (July 2020) on the website of the Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk by Katharina Häck
* Article (in English) on Second Wiki
* Article (1999) by Margarete Hille on the website of the German vegetarian association on the occasion of Gustaf Nagel's 125th birthday; this article has referrals to a variety of other texts about Nagel

* Christine Meyer, Gustaf Nagel. Der Provokateur vom Arendsee (Märkischer Kunst- und Heimatverlag), Poritz, 2001
* A short impression of the site by videoformer (0'46", YouTube, 2015)

Video (2010) by Gert Anhalt for ZDF TV (7'27", added to YouTube, by Gunter Zwinzscher)

Gustaf Nagel
Paradise Garden
39619 Arendsee, Saksen-Anhalt, Germany

    click to enlarge the map with the locattion of the site

April 22, 2021

Shelleen, a shell decorated property

this photo and the next five by Richard Sutcliffe
licensed under Creative Commons

Of the four art environments in Scotland described in this weblog, included the one presented in this post, three are characterized by their proximity to the sea and their decorations with shells. 

In addition to Shelleen, reviewed here, the two other sites are a still existing house in Anstruther, decorated with shells by Alex Bachelor in the 1840s, and a site in Leven that has now disappeared except for a few decorated walls, made in the 1920s by William R. Bisset.  

The fourth site in Scotland is the Trail of wooden sculptures in the Cairngorms National Park, created by Frank Bruce, opened in November 2007.

The site named Shelleen is located in Clochan, a small community in Scotland, some 2.4 miles (3,8 km) south of the Moray Firth, an inlet of the North Sea.

Photos of this art environment -mainly presenting the decorated garden wall- are available on the internet, but reviews of the site are lacking so far. This implies that this post cannot mention who made this art environment and in which year creating the site started.

There is a photo on the internet with a caption that assumes that the creation of the site began in 2000, but it is not clear what this is based on.

Anyway, the creation as such is impressive enough to appeal to a wide audience

Coming from the village of Clochan the site is to the left of the road, where a man-high wall is situated, for a part at right angles to the road, for another part parallel to the road.

Behind the wall are the garden with various shell decorated creations and the living house with accompanying sheds and work spaces.

The walls along the garden

As can be seen in the very first photo, at the spot where the sides of the garden walls meet, a flattened piece of wall has -below some small-scale decorative items- the name of the site in blue letters: SHELLEEN. 

The top of this piece of wall is decorated with sculptures, a swan and two dolphins that are looking up at each other.

As can be seen in the picture above, the wall in front of the house at its left end has an entrance gate, which has been decorated with a variety of dinner plates and at the top there once more is a dolphin.

This wall as such is richly decorated with shells, including a large number of pink St Jacob shells.

There are also a number of specific decorations, as shown in the two detailed pictures below. 

a four-legged animal
a dolphin

On the left an image of what presumably once more is a dolphin, apparently a favorite item of the person who made these creations, and on the right a depiction of a four-legged animal, perhaps a horse.

The image below gives an another impression of the varied way the wall has been decorated.

this picture courtesy of Freya Pearce

The wall along the street is not decorated with shells. It's made of stone slabs and it turns into a wooden fence, which continues in a number of sheds at the rear of the house.

this picture (August 2011):
screenprint from Google Streetview

One of these side buildings is decorated with shells, as shown above.

The decorations in the garden

The internet only has a limited visual documentation of the creations in the garden. 

On Instagram (#shelleen) there is a series of photos, mainly of the decorations on the wall around the garden and a few of the decorations in the garden, such as a mill with four blades and a church with a spire.

this picture and the next one
courtesy of Freya Pearce

As can be seen in the picture above, this church is just behind the intersection of the two garden walls with the rising dolphins.

The image above depicts the church, constructed with a decorated gable roof, and both a spire and rear wall bearing a cross.

this picture (August 2011):
screenprint from Google Streetview

Although the photo above is not so clear, one can still see that the garden is enriched with an ensemble of houses and other buildings, all small scale, a kind of miniature village situated around a miniature lake, everything in the middle of a rich green decor of trees and plants

It's a pity that better images of the creations in the garden are not available, because it seems that this may mean that an interesting and nicely shaped part of this Scottish art environment will remain in the unknown.

* Series of photos with explanation on weblog Last Alliance Studios (scroll all the way down)

Shell decorated property 
Clochan, Scotland, UK
can partly be seen from the street

April 15, 2021

Niko Nordström, Puuveistokset pisteviivat ympäri kaupunkia / Wooden sculptures dotted around the city

sculpture of a toucan
this image and the next three
from the municipal website about the sculptures

Created by an employee of the municipality of Kauniainen, a city of some 10,000 inhabitants in the south of Finland, dozens of wooden sculptures decorate the city's public space.

In the field of art environments such a number of identical sculptures (in this case in terms of basic material and method of processing) can be referred to as a scattered art environment, a description that refers to the totality of related creations located in a rather extensive territory near the artist's living place.
 sculpture of a sfinx

Life and works

Born into a family living in Kauniainen, Niko Nordström in 2005 became an employee of the municipal maintenance company, an organization that takes care of such activities as clearing snow, but also keeping in order the parks and landscaping, as well as the trees and woodlands in the municipality.

In that job he also had to work with a circular saw and in the process he became familiar with various sawing techniques. 

In Finland making creations with the circular saw is a much practiced activity, even by people without an artistic training, and so Nordström set to work, making his first sawn-out wooden creation in 2009, which became a gift for one of his friends.

Although Nordström in his spare time liked to be active in running and cycling, he apparently enjoyed making wooden sculptures so much that he wanted to add another activity to the use of his free time, namely making sculptures of trees that had to be cut down by the municipal organization he worked for. 

sculpture of a falcon

The local authorities thought it was a good idea and agreed. 

In Kauniainen the municipal maintenance company only cuts down trees that are in poor condition. It is known that leaving parts of felled trees behind is useful for nature, but doing so sometimes comes up against a lack of understanding from local residents, who think these left parts just form a mess. The remains of a tree in the form of a sculpture, on the other hand, are appreciated positively by a large majority of residents.

With these kinds of considerations in the background, in 2010 Nordström's project started. It was successful, both in terms of the number of sculptures made, some eighty sculptures in ten years, and in terms of the outspoken positive appreciation of the residents.

In terms of theme, the sculptures depict various animals, as the images in this post show. But there are also other subjects, for example if a well-known building has stood in the area or if there is a memory of a famous person. 

Nordström also asks his colleagues for suggestions on the subject of a new sculpture. And if no idea has arisen within six months, then the agreement is that the stump will be removed.

In 2014 Nordström received the Environmental Performance of the Year award for his creations and in December 2020 the city published a webpage with a series of photos of the sculptures and a map of the city with indications of the spots where they are located (see documentation).

sculpture of a turtle

To situate Nordström's artwork in the context of other scattered art environments, here are some references to comparable sites.

Very similar is Dmitry Tanchev from Aleksin, Russia, who transformed trees in a forest near his hometown into sculptures.This also applies to Valery Gavrilov who decorated the Foresters Park in Yekaterinburg, Russia, with a series of wooden sculptures. And then, Pierre Rapeau from the Dordogne area in France, who decorated parts of trees with frescoes, also had a forest as his field of work.

Working with shells, Danielle Aubin, France, decorated houses and walls with mosaic in the district where she lived and in the 19th century, François Michaud, also from France, made granite sculptures, which were set up in various locations in his village.

* Webpage (in English) by the municipality of Kauniainen with a serie of pictures and a map of the city with the locations of the sculptures 
* Article (May 2018) in local newspaper Kaunis Grani
* Article (February 2020) in newspaper Ilta-Sanomat
*Video by Yle Areena TV

Niko Nordström
Wooden sculptures dotted around the city
Kauniainen,  Uusimaa, region Southern Finland
sculptures can be seen from the street

April 06, 2021

Alexander Lovyagin, Внутреннее расположение скульптур / Indoor arrangement of sculptures

this picture and the next seven: screenprints
from the video referred to in the documentation

A characteristic of many non-professional creators of art environments is that once they have started transforming their home or garden into an art work, they find it difficult to stop. Some go on for decades, indeed.

When it comes to a creation outdoors, finding space is usually not a problem, but indoors it can be different. This might also apply to the art environment reviewed in this post.

part of a cabinet in the living room
filled with small-scale sculptures
Life and works

Alexander Nikolaevich Lovyagin, a resident of the city of Belgorod in Russia, lives in a small apartment with his wife.

The internet has only limited biographical information about him. He was probably born in the early 1950s. There is a newspaper article from 2015, mentioned in the documentation below, that states he was a crane operator, but had to quit that job in the early 2000s due to a heart attack. 

Lovyagin then focused on making woodcarvings, an activity in which he had no experience, but in which he gradually became proficient.

Over the past twenty years or so he has made a large number of sculptures, perhaps more than a thousand. 

The pictures in his post show how he the small apartment gradually has become quite filled with creations.

They also show that his artwork mainly includes small-scale items, but then, manufacturing such a lot of small creations remains quite an undertaking.

the lamps on the ceiling are set in carved wooden ornaments

The sculptures created by Lovyagin are set up in cabinets along the wall in the living room, are mounted on wall boards, or are set up on a small table or other pieces of furniture. 

The image above shows that the carvings also decorate the ceilings, where the lighting is incorporated in wooden ornaments.

Lovyagin's artwork includes many stylized flowers, little birds, butterflies and small-scale decorative elements.

The aforementioned newspaper article also reports that Lovyagin would have preferred to become a pilot, but that things turned out differently. 

In the collection there are also sculptures of planes. In the video below, Lovyagin shows a globe made by him, surrounded by spherical celestial bodies, while the holder in which the globe is contained ends in a stylized rocket.

The sculptures of birds, planes and even rockets can be associated with the desire Lovyagin must have had from childhood to fly freely through the air as a pilot.

The picture above left shows two swans in a pond -designed in high-relief-  looking at each other, a decorative element much used in Russia. These swans decorate the headboard of the matrimonial bed in the bedroom.

The picture above right shows a few small birds, arranged on a stool

Lovyagin watching part of his wooden sculpted items

Lovyagin's site in the context of art environments in Europe

As far as is currently known, there are only a limited number of art environments in Europe in the quality of an indoor arrangement of sculptures in a private house. 

Most comparable to the arrangement reviewed here, is the site of José Leitao (1938-2020) from France, who displayed an extensive collection of wooden sculptures in the small garage at his house, which functioned as his studio. Bogdan Ziętek (1932-2018) from Ukraine had a large collection of life-size sculptures of mainly female characters in his living room. Kate Bradbury (b. 1961), England, has an extensive collection of life-size sculptures in her London apartment. The House of Dreams Museum by Stephen Wright (b. 1954) in East-Dulwich, London, has both an interior and an exterior completely filled with mosaic sculptures, dolls and other items.

And the modest house of Margarita Travkina (born early 1940s) of Kolomna in Russia houses a collection of about 13,000 dolls, all neatly dressed by her (of course, dolls can also be seen as belonging to another category of creations).

* Article (October 2015) in regional newspaper Mir Belogorya

Video on the YouTube channel of above newspaper

first published April 2021

Alexander Lovyagin
Indoor arrangement of sculptures
Belgorod, Belgorod region, Russia
no public visits

March 30, 2021

Galina Moiseeva, Рай / Paradise

photo by A. Arkhipov

Located in the small hamlet of Kvashino in the Voronezh region in the westernmost part of Russia,  bordering Ukraine, this unassuming art environment is liked by Kvashino's some 400 inhabitants and referred to as Paradise.

The house and its garden have been decorated by Galina Moiseeva.

Life and work

Galina, who was born probably in the 1950s, has fond memories of her childhood. which she spent in the village of Yurla in the Perm region of the Urals.

Her mother worked as a math teacher and was a very good singer. She loved to sew and made the children's clothes herself. Her father had a small shoe factory, and so his children always wore brand new boots. And he loved to draw, a hobby he may have passed on to Galina.

this picture (2017) and the next three
by Elena Bardakova

Galina was educated in preschool education and worked first as an employee, later as head of a day care center for children.

She got married and had four children. But the marriage did not go well and when she learned that milkmaids were needed in the Voronezh region for a good salary and also a house, she left her husband -probably in the late 1980s- and took the train east with her children.

Galina got the job and a house. After some time she met Gennady, they married around 1990 and settled in the house in Kvashino. In 2017, when she was interviewed by a regional newspaper, she said that she at that time had shared life with Gennady for some 27 years.

Galina, who is now retired, uses all kinds of surplus and cheap material to decorate the garden, such as old car tires, pieces of foam rubber, old garden hoses and pieces of cloth. She also uses polystyrene, a cheap material.

Her husband enthusiastically helps, for example with sawing pieces of wood. But all ideas for the decorations come from Galina.

The image above shows a self-made fountain with a stork on high legs and a dolphin, an arrangement with many light blue hues. Behind the mesh fence is a styrofoam rooster in red boots.

The second image seen from the top shows a horse with a body made from an old car tire, a wooden muzzle and curled mane. The horse is driven by a gypsy woman dressed in a red long skirt and a black sweater made by Galina. The face of the woman is made of foam rubber.

In the image above, the tree stump is being examined by a grasshopper and an ant, both made from wood. 

The house where Galina and Gennady live (Galina's children have since left the house, partly gone back to Perm) has decorations, sometimes colorful, of carvings and wooden ornaments, as well as a frescoe with two swans. 

There is a homemade weather vane on the house. The wooden bench in front of the house has decorative carvings, again including two white swans facing each other.

As the documentation below shows, there is only one source available on the internet with information about the art environment, a newspaper article from 2017. In the absence of more up-to-date information, it is unclear what the current situation (2021) is of this site.

* Article by Elena Bardakova in regional magazine VOROB (May 2017), -p. 5

Galina Moiseeva
Paradise (decorated house and garden)
ulitsa Chkalo
Kvashino, Voronezh region,  Russia
can be seen from he street

March 22, 2021

Alexey and Valentina Krivov, Дом украшен мозаикой/House decorated with mosaics

a look at the site from the street
this picture and the next six:
screenshots via Google Streetview

Located in an ordinary street with ordinary houses, the house pictured above -in the municipality of Artyom (Артём) in Russia- with its exterior wall fully decorated with mosaics has a very special appearance amidst all other buildings.

Behind the wall along the street there is a courtyard and a variety of buildings, all provided with mosaics.

a view of the right side of the site

Life and works

Alexey Krivov and his wife Valentina, who created this art environment, both were born in the early 1930s. 

Living in the Primorsky area, the most south-eastern region of the Russian Federation, bordering the Sea of Japan¹, Alexey became a plasterer and painter, while Valentina gained considerable experience as a decorator.

When they both retired in the 1990s, they bought an old house in the community of Artyom, a community of some 100.000 inhabitants, 40 km north-west of Vladivostok.

church-like structures at the right side of the site
this image and the next five: 
screenshots from the video in the documentation

Their new accommodation needed a lot of repair and since Alexey and Valentina both had a lot of experience with doing such jobs, they decided to undertake the renovation of the house themselves. 

And because Valentina was also a lover of making decorations, it did not stop at refurbishing the house, but it became a project aimed at beautifying the house and its immediate surroundings with mosaics. 

During the project, new built structures were also added (and decorated with mosaics of course...)

towery structures at the left side of the site

The couple did the practical work together, but Valentina was the one who developed the design of the decorations.

Old discarded plates and tiles were used to compose the decorations and once their project locally became better known, neighbors and other residents helped to collect this basic material from all over the city. 

Applying the pieces of mosaic required a lot of cement. The couple bought this material from their retirement benefits, which sometimes included that considerable savings had to be made on other expenses.

the photo above together with the one below 
give an impression of a creation on a wall along the courtyard, 
below a protruding space protected by columns, surmounted by a semi-dome.

Seen from the street, the art environment is bordered by an exterior wall, predominantly decorated with white mosaic. The wall features black-tinted mosaic images of cranes and swans.

A door in this wall, incorporated into a mosaic corridor, gives access to the courtyard. Along this centrally located courtyard, which is paved with colorful tiles, the living house and the other built structures are arranged.

Located in the middle of the courtyard, the living house has an exterior wall covered with white and light blue mosaic, embellished with some black two-headed eagles. In its interior, which cannot be entered by visitors of the site, most wooden furniture has been handcrafted by Valentina, which also applies to the scenes executed in embroidery, which are attached to the wall like paintings (some pictures here).

On the left side of the courtyard (as seen from he street) is a partially walled semicircular space bordered by some three tower-shaped structures crowned with all together some nine round or four-sided spiers.

On the part to the right of the courtyard there are also a number of towering buildings with openwork arches. With their spherical spiers they have the specific architecture that characterizes Russian churches. Some parts of the structures are provided with (mosaic) images of saints.

In Russia this site is often referred to as a fairytale house. 

Seen from the field of art environments, because of the abundance of mosaics added to a living house, adjacent structures and the exterior area, there is a strong association with the Maison Picassiette by Raymond Isidore and the Maison de la vaisselle cassée by Robert Vasseur, both located in France.

This is all the more appealing, because there is just one other mosaic decorated art environment in Russia, the mosaic house by Egor Zolotarev, which by the way implies more of a form of singular architecture. 

After more than fifteen years of work on the project, around 2011, the art environment had acquired such a size and allure that it got attention in the Russian press, social media and other news outlets. In 2011 and 2012 a number of reviews were published, mostly in the same terms. Subsequent publications, including the article in this weblog, are based on the data published in 2011/12.

Alexey and Valentina Krivov, who created this art environment, must now (2020/21) be in their late eighties or early nineties, but on the internet there is no information available about them and the current state of their art environment.

* Article (September 2011) on Life Journal, with some pictures
* Article (October 2011) on weblog Kulturologia, with a number of pictures
* Article (July 2012) on weblog Mosaic Hobby, with some pictures
* Article (October 2012) in newspaper Primamedia, with a large series of photos of he site
* Article (October 2012) on the website of the Alliance of first builders
* Article (January 2016) on sam.mirtesen weblog

* Video (2'20", November 2012) by Russian TV, Channel 5

¹  Characteristic art environments located in the Asian part of Russia, are included in this weblog to provide a balanced and coherent picture of the whole field of Russian art environments.

Alexey and Valentina Krivov
Mosaic decorated house
Ulitsa Papanina 49
Artyom, Primorsky region, Russia
can be seen from the street