August 17, 2013

Pavel Bezrukov, Поляна сказок/Fairy tale garden

 all pictures courtesy of the Polyana Skazok Museum 

Located north of Yalta on the Crimea peninsula, Polyana Skazok is an outdoor museum of over 300 sculptures, all relating to fairies and folk tales ¹.

Currently a top amusement park in Crimea, it has its origins in a simple fairy tale garden, created by a self-taught artist, Pavel Bezrukov ².

Life and works 

Bezrukov was born in 1890 in a family of fisherman that lived in Yeisk, a port city by the Black Sea in the south of Russia. Already as a young man he demonstrated an artistic talent, especially in the field of wood carving.

However the family couldn't afford an education at an art school, so the young man somehow trained himself in wood working using as examples the old houses and peasant farms, traditionally decorated with carved porches and architraves.

In the late 1920's Bezrukov succeeded in participating in art expositions.

When in the 1930's he got tuberculosis, he moved to the Crimea to seek recovery. Staying on various locations, he would finally settle in a green, mountainous area north of Yalta, where he recovered from his illness.

Bezrukov with his two daughters 
and the head of the giant

Bezrukov, a self-taught artist,  all his life has somehow been active in wood crafting, however it probably was at some moment after he returned home after world war II, so at a time he already was in his late fifties or early sixties, that he began exposing these sculptures outside his house.

Anyway, during the 1950's Bezrukov displayed such a number of wooden sculptures around his house, that in 1960 the Fairy Tale Garden more or less officially became a public attraction.

The fairy tale garden became famous, it was a beloved place, visited by a lot of people, both locals and tourists on holiday in Yalta.

Children liked to come and learn the stories from folklore and fairies, as represented by the various sculptures.

The black and white pictures, from the collection of the current museum, give an impression of the kind of wooden sculptures Bezrukov made: Tara Bulba, Vasilisa the beautiful, and of course Baba Yaga (her hut was also present on the premises), Pinocchio.....

sculpture entitled "Черный триумвират" (black triumvirate)

The fairy tale garden has existed for some ten years. In 1970 it was destroyed, following some dispute with local artists and the authorities, I couldn't fully figure out..

Public opinion, however, did not accept the disappearance of the garden and the city of Yalta could not but decide to establish a new fairy tale garden on the premises of the former one.

The new garden got sculptures and constructions made by various professional sculptors from the then USSR. 

Pavel Bezrukov took no part in these developments. After the destruction of the garden he returned to Moscow, where he died in 1978, almost 90 yeears old.

The new fairy tale garden, with today an area of several hectares and over 300 sculptures/sculpture groups, has become one of Crimea's popular attractions. On the garden's website Bezrukov is payed tribute.

Documentation/more pictures
* An official website of the open air museum was available when this post was first published in 2013, currently, after Crimea became Russian the former link connects to kind of a travel guide
* Article (in english) on website Discover Ukraine (published before Crimea became Russian)

¹  I learned about Bezrukov through a recent post of Bruno Montpied on his weblog
² This blog has two other examples of amusement parks that grew out of activities of a self-taught artist, Wim de Vries (Netherlands) and Frantisek Jáich (Czech Republic)

first published august 2013, revised sept 2016

Museum Polyana Skazok (Glade of fairy tales)
Kirova Street
Yalta, Crimea
the original art environment was demolished around 1970
near the site an open air fairytale museum was created
which is open all year

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