March 27, 2013

Nicolai Tarasyuk, Успаміны Бацькаўшчыны/Memories of the Fatherland.

Успаміны Бацькаўшчыны (Memories of the Fatherland)
unless stated otherwise pictures are screenshots from videos mentioned in the documentation

Situated both in Poland and in Belarus, intersected by a national frontier, the Bialowieze Forest is the last remnant of the big forest that once covered the European Plain, stretching from the Pyrenees Mountains in the west to the Ural Mountains in the east.

At the outer edge of the part of the forest situated in Belarus, in Belorussian named Belovezhskaya Pushcha, there is a farm  with a folk art museum, named Успаміны Бацькаўшчыны (Memories of the Fatherland).

Life and works

Born in 1932 in a family living in a farm at the outskirts of the forest, in the community of Pruzhany, Nicolai Tarasyuk¹ already at a young age began to work at the farm. World War II has restricted his childhood education and brought traumatic events to the area, such as compulsory eviction of (Polish) citizens who were locked up in camps or were forced to migrate to eastern parts of Russia.

This fate has not affected the Tarasyuk family, and Nicolai all his life has been living on the farm. He married in 1953, had a son who died early, and two daughters. 

He has got fame as a folk artist, making sculptures from wood, in general small items of some 20 to 30 cm (8 - 12 inches) which depict all kinds of people in all kinds of situations or show various social activities by persons grouped together in anecdotal situations.

Making sculptures for over forty years, Tarasyuk has created thousands of "wooden people", colorful and naturalistic painted, equipped with appropriate attributes, grouped into a huge amount of small-scale scenes.

In 1994 Tarasyuk decided to build an annex to the farm and transform this into a museum, named Memories of the Fatherland, which houses some 300 items.

Meanwhile, the collection has grown and grown, and currently the garden around farm and museum is dotted too with Taryuk's small scale creations.

A wonderful folk art environment.....

Tarasyuk's wife died in 2006 and since he lives alone on the farm. The outlying area around is depopulating: when Tarsyuk's neighbor, a farmer too, died in 2007, his farm stayed uninhibited and the property is gradually deteriorating.

In 2012, to celebrate his 80th birthday, Tarasyuk was honored with an exposition in the Museum of Modern Art in Minsk, the capital of Belarus (Paradise Lost, august 7-18, 2013. Already in 1987 he had earned a gold medal in Moscow at the Folk Art Festival.

As far as I understand it has been arranged that the collection of wooden people in time will be transferred to a regional museum.

Nicolai Tarasyuk died january 14, 2015.

* Website Spadscyna Belaryci (Belarus Heritage), with biography and pictures
* Video "Wooden people" by Viktor Asliuk, Belarusfilm, 2012, 27'44" (video added to YouTube febr 2013)

* Video, made in 2008, 27:'45", (a TV-film?), added to YouTube july 2012

* Video (12'30", YouTube, added jan 2011)


Nicolai Tasaryuk
Успаміны Бацькаўшчыны (Memories of the Fatherland)
Pruzhany (Brest region), Belarus

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