An exhibition of paintings by SciFi Art Now contributor Vicky Stonebridge and John Mikietyn, and a ceramic sculpture by Allison Weightman, will open at the Scotland Russia Forum’s Edinburgh premises tonight at 6pm (Friday 12th August), attended by Sergei Krutikov, the Russian Consul General.
The weeklong exhibition accompanies music by Scottish singer, songwriter and translator, Tommy Beavitt, whose long-term project to interpret and perform the work of the Russian Bard, Vladimir Vysotsky (1938-1980), in English and Russian, has been an inspiration for the work displayed. Alongside the artworks, the exhibition will present Tommy’s performances in Russian and English of some of Vysotsky’s songs, which feature universal themes of faith, conflict and individual freedom.
After closing in Edinburgh on the 18th, the exhibition will then re-open at the Inchmore Gallery, near Inverness, on 19th August.
Vladimir Vysotsky is almost universally known and loved in the Russian-speaking world and in many parts of the former Soviet Union. Yet, other than to a few Russophiles, who appreciate that he may be the genuine “heir to Pushkin”, his work remains relatively obscure in Anglophonia.
His more than 1000 songs have been translated into over 60 languages, yet in his lifetime he was never officially released in the USSR, his songs instead being distributed by a process called ‘magnetizdat’ (tape-to-tape copying). Incredibly, over the course of his short and intensely lived life, he also managed to become a major theatre, TV and film actor.
While he was branded “anti-Soviet”, he was never referred to as a dissident writer and is often thought of as a great Russian patriot. Beginning with the ‘blatnaya pesnya’ (outlaw songs) genre, deriving from prison ballads sung by those returning from the Gulag, his songs branched out to deal with an extremely broad array of themes, in which human freedom and faith are often central.
Tommy, who has already traveled to Russia four times to perform mainly Burns songs (in Russian and Scots-English) said: “I’ve always been fascinated by the power of song, both as a means of expressing a nation’s culture and of transcending the differences between nations. Performing and translating songs from different cultures is also a great way to learn languages.
“Singing Burns to Russians showed me just how valuable a role the Bard fulfills – it’s more important than ever that nations are able to understand one another. As soon as I heard Vysotsky – whose birthday, 25th of January, is the same as Burns’ – I became obsessed with him. His basic message, at the same time deeply Russian and internationalist, has a lot in common with Burns’ message of ‘A man’s a man for a that’. I hope that Vysotsky will one day become as well-known (and loved) in Scotland as Burns is in Russia.”
|Vicky Stonebridge at work|
Vicky Stonebridge is a painter, illustrator and fire fighter. The inspiration for her work comes from a fascination with archaeology, history, anthropology, ancient art, myth and epics and how people have interpreted their world, as well as the universality of stories and symbols.
Vicky, who has also had an enduring fascination with Russia, said: “This collaboration has been a fantastic opportunity to develop the work I started when I visited Russia last year. There I was painting Scottish and Celtic myths and stories, and now I have had the opportunity to paint songs by a Russian Bard.
“It’s normal for me to work with other people when creating comics and Graphic Novels, but it is unusual to work this way with paintings. I am very excited to see how Russians, Scots and other people will react to them. I hope they will convey the spirit of Vysotsky’s songs in a way that can be understood by everyone.”
Living in the Highlands since childhood, she has developed a passion for traditional Scottish folklore and Pictish/Celtic stories and art. Following a Golden Deer motif has led Vicky on an on-going artistic journey towards the East, where the Russian passion for art, culture and literature has reinvigorated her own work.
In 2010 she was invited to attend the Yelabuga International Art symposium organised by the Elabuga State Museum Preservation Area in Tatarstan. While there, she produced works for exhibition in the Shishkin Gallery on the theme of ‘Breath of the Epos’, and contributed to discussions exploring the cross-cultural connections in epic traditions and cultural practices.
Vicky interprets universal human experiences through her figurative and narrative art. She weaves connections between the post-modern western experience and the global, historical perspective, seeking an accessible visual vocabulary.
• John Mikietyn – www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=33280558139
• Tommy Beavitt – www.globalvillagebard.co.uk