November 18, 2008

Polina Rayko, Decorated house

Life and works

Polina Rayko was born in 1928 as Pelageya Andreyevna Rayko in Tsyuryupinsk¹, Ukraine (near the city of Kherson, not far from the Black Sea coast).

She married in 1950 and got a daughter Elena (b 1951) and a son Sergei (b 1953). The family lived a modest life, deriving their income mainly from their garden.

Life didn't bring Polina much happiness. In 1994 her daughter died in a traffic accident, a year later her husband passed away and her son became addicted and would take her valuables and threaten her if he was not in prison (he died in 2002).

In 1998, at age 69, Polina Rayko began making paintings, in this way trying to brighten her life somewhat, as she later explained. She had only a small pension and had to use the cheapest paint and brushes that one could get on the local market. But painting had become her real passion, in such a way that she has covered all the walls of her house with colorful decorations.

In the course of the years her work has become known, and although she was asked to make paintings in houses of other people, she never would earn much money with these activities.

In 2003 the local association Kherson Centre "Totem"  became interested in her creations and took the initiative to produce a brochure about her life and work. However, before Road to Paradise was published (in 2005), Polina Rayko died (January 15th, 2004).

The house has been saved 

Put on sale by the inheritors, the house was bought by a Canadian couple living in Ukraine. They felt it was it important to preserve the decorated house for the future. Although the house as such is saved, the unprotected decorations are vulnerable if no protective measures are taken.

In december 2012 experts met in Kherson to discuss what could be done, but is not clear if actions followed.

If no funds come available to preserve house and decorations as such, an approach might be to make kind of a 3-dimensional copy of the house and its interior which would allow to exhibit the creation in 3D projection (see the second video in the documentation).

The house might become a museum

End 2016 a Kherson newspaper reported about the intention of the Cultural Department of the Kherson Region to buy Rayko's house and transform it into a museum of naive art. In the regional budget for 2017 an amount is earmarked for the purchase.

Meanwhile a Polina Rayko Charity Foundation has been formed

Exposition in Kiev 2018

The Pinchuk Art Centre, Kiev, in 2018 organized an exposition A Space of One's own (Oct 30, 2018 - Jan 6, 2019) about the place of women in Ukrainian art, taking into account the specificity of the country's sociopolitical situation.

Polina Rayko was one of the artists presented,  the exposition showing some of her wall frescoes by means of life-sized photo montages.

photo (by  Semen Khramtsov) courtesy of 

* In OEE texts a translation into english of an article by Oleksiy Kachmar, published in the polish magazine Kultura Enter (oct. 2009).
* Article (june 2013) on the website of the Ivan Honchar Museum (Ukrainian Center for Folk Culture), with a large series of pictures
* Video (2006) by Boris Yeghiazaryan (two parts, 11'45" and 11'20'", You Tube, uploaded march 2011)

part 1

part 2

* Video "Following a ray" by Tatiana Rudeshko (You Tube, dec 2012, 4'44", english titles).
This video shows the idea of filming the interior and expose this as a 3D projection.

* A video by the Ivan Honchar Museum in Kiev, made in 2013 when the staff of the museum visited the site (11'51", You Tube, uploaded july 2013)

* Video by Mikhail Prozorov, the house of grandma Rayko (You Tube, july 2013, 11'44")

first published nov 2008, last revised nov 2018

¹ In 2016 the community was renamed. From 2017 on its name will be Oleshky

Polina Rayko
Interior decorated with frescoes/murals
Oleshky (Tsyurupinsk until 2016)

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