This book is a wonderful evocation of the wooden churches of the Russian Far North, some in all their glory, others in their sad state of disrepair, even ruin. These are all churches that still stand where they were originally built; only one is from an open air museum and that is a very early church actively being restored. Richard Davies's glorious photographs are accompanied by Matilda Morton's lively descriptions of their visits, excerpts from early travelers and old Soviet propaganda.
Those who have had the good fortune to visit some of these churches, as I have, will find this a wonderful souvenir, but the book will appeal equally to anyone with a love of wooden architecture, old churches or the Russian countryside - or all three!. Perhaps a health warning is appropriate: Prepare to want to see them for yourself! Sadly these churches are badly in need of care, maintenance, in many cases restoration. As it is they are just a small fraction of the many such churches that existed a hundred, even sixty years ago. If they are not soon given the urgent attention they require, this book may simply become the best record of something lost through ignorant and indifferent neglect.
Finally, this book is the perfect companion to the Opolovnikovs' "The Wooden Architecture of Russia" (1989).
As described, fast delivery. Well packed. You have to be interested in old Russian Christian Architecture to buy this book. It is a great survey and preserves, in pictures, many lost, or soon to be lost, monuments of Orthodox Heritage.
THIS IS AN ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING PHOTO AND TEXT TOUR OF THE REMAINING WOODEN CHURCHES IN THE RUSSIAN NORTHWEST. OUTSTANDING COLOR AND BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOS, OF BOTH THE OUTSIDE AND INSIDE OF THESE UNIQUE STRUCTURES, MANY OF WHICH ARE OVER 200 YEARS OLD!!! THE PHOTOS ARE NOT THE ONLY GREAT THING ABOUT THIS BOOK---ALMOST ALL OF THE DESCRIPTIONS ARE ACCOMPANIED BY A PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF THE AUTHORS VISIT---HOW HE GOT THERE, WHO HE VISITED WITH, AND WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE CHURCHES AND THE PEOPLE WHO USED TO WORSHIP THERE! YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!!! VERY HIGH QUALITY PRINTING AND BINDING!!!
Wooden Churches: Travelling in the Russian North examines a type of building unique to Russia, the wooden churches of the north-west. Though these fascinating buildings were once ubiquitous in the region and formed a vital part of its cultural life, today only a tiny proportion remains. Richard Davies and Matilda Moreton's work documents that remnant in a fascinating blend of words and pictures.
I bought this book on the strength of the photos (I saw them featured in The World of Interiors), and they truly are gorgeous. Summer or winter, robust or decaying, each church is photographed in a way which brings out their architectural features and places them within the landscape that brought them forth. But there's so much more to the book than that. Old photos reveal what some churches looked like before they fell into ruin, or record those that no longer exist. Cartoons and magazine extracts record the Soviet assault on the Orthodox faith. Extracts from travel diaries, memoirs and histories show what these churches and the religion they housed meant to their communities. Most interesting, and sometimes very moving, are the tales from Davies and Moreton's travels to take the photos: the people they met and the stories they had to tell. One thing I particularly liked about Wooden Churches was that there's no attempt to hide the human element. Power lines cut across views; haystacks and woodpiles, muddy roads and old caravans creep into shot. Sometimes local people appear, and those photos are amongst my favourites.
This can't help but be a rather sad book; there's been so much change and destruction in Russia and the churches that it documents have really suffered as a result. But hopefully this book will encourage people to protect this beautiful architectural heritage, and perhaps even inspire similar projects elsewhere.
I really do feel privileged to own this book.
In addition to the documentation of contemporary churches, the book contains a preface by photographer Davies; a historical introduction; an afterword from Mikhail Milchik, Vice-Director of the St Petersburg Research Institute of Restoration; a description of architectural features of the churches; an architectural glossary; a historical chronology; a bibliography; acknowledgements; and an index of the churches featured. The production values are very high indeed.
Spectacular photographs of fascinating, old wooden Russian churches in various states of repair. The probability is that some of them will disappear altogether through neglect and deterioration. We are very fortunate that the photographer was able to preserve them in this form. The conditions under which they were photographed must have been quite arduous at times. There is also a very informative narrative commentary to accompany the photographs.
I saw this in the NY Times here in the States and it was not available here but was through UK portal. Great service and the author has prepared a one of a kind collection of old Russian Orthodox rural churches. The color is just amazing and the author has captured their frozen in kind existence. Very worth while for those just interested and for those who have spent time in Russia it brings out a true sense of the Russian soul.
I've been waiting to get this book for several months and eventually got given it for Christmas! It certainly lives up to its reviews, a beautiful book with gorgeous atmospheric pictures. I will use it as reference to build my artwork, but I am also enjoying reading about the background to these unusual churches and the stories of the villagers and folks living near them. Thanks to the authors!
This book is better than even I expected. It's beautifully bound and the illustrations are 'meaningful', as well as dramatic. Each one immediately demands an instant enquiry relative to location, climate and people. They also evoke instant nostalgia even though I have not seen them. I am now more keen than ever to see for myself. The book offers an excellen example of an itinerary - pretty difficult one I might add.
What is most satisfying? I think it's the notion of the wood, its majesty in construction, but also the sadness of a system which often required the destruction of the churches as people saw no other option in order to keep warm. I will cherish this wonderful anthology.
It is truly astonishing that despite the incredibly turbulent nature of Russian history in the last century that any of these Churches have survived. This book contains fascinating examples of the amazing diversity of architectural styles that can be seen in Russia. It also highlights the fragility of these beautiful Churches and the dangers that they face. The conservation of these Churches surely cannot be simply a Russian priority, they are clearly of global significance.
I think this is a really fabulous book and I hope that it will produce what it sets out to do, namely to save the remaining 17/18th century wooden churches of northern Russia from neglect and decay. The photographs of the churches, taken mainly in a winter landscape, are haunting and awesome in their design and dignity. I hope that the Russian government, or a wealthy benefactor, will rescue these wonderful buildings and preserve them for posterity.