Tuesday 29 January 2013

Conversation Pieces, the Hive, Shrewsbury

Conversation Pieces: an Exhibition without Borders

By Gwen Cox
Art International Group is the inspiration of Svetlana Elantseva, originally from Moscow, but now living and working in Shropshire. Its aim is to promote international understanding and co-operation through art; the group, Svetlana herself and Carla Boulton from Shrewsbury, and two artists from Russia, Alexey Gilarov and Vasili Rakov held their first event in Moscow in December 2012 , when they were invited to exhibit as guests by the International Fund of Slavonic Calligraphy and Culture in the Gallery ‘ArdenA, (http://www.slavfond.ru/, http://www.ardena.ru )

Its second venture will be to mount an exhibition here in Shrewsbury, featuring works by the two Shropshire and two Moscow artists. They envisage themselves as holding a ‘conversation’ through art which needs no translation, hence the title of the exhibition, ‘Conversation Pieces’.

The exhibition will take place at the Hive Music and Media Centre in Shrewsbury from 4th February to 2nd March 2013.
Alexey and Vasili live and work in Moscow. Svetlana  and Carla are Shrewsbury - based artists who work in different media : drawing, painting, collages, ceramics , photographs and films. The artists’ works are held in private collections in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and Russia.
Svetlana Elantseva was a member of a team of artists producing Soviet-style art when she worked in Russia, but, since moving to the UK, she has developed her skills in a variety of media and subjects. Her translations of ideas, designs and imagery in her paintings, collages, 3D sculptures, photographs and films are strongly influenced by her Russian roots.

Carla Boulton is the only British-born member of the group, and has always lived and worked in this country, always in the creative industries, having been encouraged by her family to pursue a career doing what she loved.
‘I have always drawn creatures; at times I moved away from documenting thoughts in this way – I painted, made objects, photographed and then came full-circle back to these small drawings – they express best what I mean.
The Morals drawings come straight from my head - the small recurring motif represents a familiar nagging feeling: “Is this OK?” These drawings may or may not look like creatures or people you know, they may touch you or just pass you by, like morals . . ‘

Carla has worked drawing images to be printed on fabrics and has also designed books. Now, ‘with a large family and an unfaltering interest in the new’, Carla splits her time between her graphic design business; making art with children in a primary school; drawing; and studying for an additional career.

Alexey Gilarov develops and makes monumental interior paintings on facades of both public and private buildings, using mural, mosaic, graffito, fresco and stained glass. He studied monumental painting in 2002, but his earlier studies were at the Moscow State Art University and Suricov Art School. He also undertakes landscape design projects and landscape architecture. He has exhibited widely, and has been distinguished with awards: Winner of the Premium Academies, Ferroni, Florence for his contribution to World Art; gold medal winner for National Achievement, International Charity Fund, ‘Patrons of the Century; and he is a corresponding member of the International Academy of Culture and Art. His works are held in museum collections in Rzhev, Toporets, Odessa, Paris, London, Moscow, New York, Luxembourg, Yerevan and Brussels.

Vasili Rakov, a member of the Moscow Union of artists and of the Union of journalists, was born in 1960, and studied decoration and media design at the Press Academy. Now he works as a monumental and decorative artist in architecture and design, with mural, mosaic, fresco and stained glass, and also as a fine artist. He is the creator of many architectural, interior design and landscape projects

Monday 8 October 2012

Born in the USSR, The Hive Gallery, Shrewsbury

Celebrating cultural diversity

Shrewsbury art exhibitions from Britain and Russia
By Gwen Cox

In January 2013, The Hive Art and Media Gallery in Shrewsbury will host an exhibition with the beguiling title ‘Born in the USSR’, curated by Svetlana Elantseva of the Art International Group. On show will be works of art created by a group of artists currently resident in Shropshire, but originally from countries which were previously part of the former Soviet Union. Svetlana Elantseva and Tanya Hart were born in Russia; Tanya Golovatyuk, Maria Golovatyuk, Larisa Butler and Lyuba Carpenter in Ukraine; Marina Hadorik in Estonia.

Some of these artists have formed a group which meets regularly in Shrewsbury to explore working with different media. Under the name of ‘Influenced by Colour’, they have now amassed a sizeable portfolio and have decided that it is time to share their talents, to give the public an opportunity to see their work. They are joined by Tanya Hart and Lyuba Carpenter who share their enthusiasm for art and design.

The artists’ experience of life in the USSR differs according to the length of time they lived there. All of them, however, are interested in how the combination of such different cultural conditioning affects the work that they produce. This forms the basis of the exhibition.

Tanya Golovatyuk notices how the brightness of Ukrainian art and craft influences her colour choices; those in Western European art are often more muted. She also likes to use Ukrainian iconography in her craft work: sunflowers, and ‘kalina’, the bright red berries which make delicious jam. She says, ‘Ukraine is my homeland, but, now that I have lived in England for 11 years, I am aware that influences on my art have become mixed. It is since I have been in England that I have begun to express myself through art; I have benefited here from the more accepting attitude to amateur work, and feel free now to experiment with different media and styles.’

Tanya’s daughter, Maria, has been in the UK since she was 7 years old, and has, consequently, felt far less influence from her Ukrainian roots. Her British education has led her to produce works more in the traditions of Western Europe, though she knows she has internalised a Ukrainian sensibility to bold colours and form through constant exposure to these at home.
Svetlana Elantseva feels the pull of her Russian home very strongly. For some time, she worked in Moscow producing propaganda art so typical of the former Soviet regime, and continues to derive inspiration from this and more ancient forms of Russian art.  ‘Throughout my life and travels, I always feel a connection to my home land. This informs the pattern of my life and my art, through which I pay homage to my heritage, my country and its ways of life.’

Lyuba Carpenter has created a highly successful fashion design business in Shrewsbury. Having learned her craft in the Soviet Union, she brings to her design the meticulous attention typical of Soviet workmanship. ‘USSR is and always will be the place where I am from and who I am, but UK is my second home now .I‘ve happily settled down here and I am grateful to this country for welcoming me, and for giving me an opportunity to develop my skill and creativity.’

Tanya Hart works with decoupage:  ‘The art and craft make me happier and work for me as an art therapy.’ Tanya works now with furniture design among other things, and incorporates the ideas and images of both her worlds into this. Larisa Butler also stresses how well painting and drawing help her to relax; she and Tanya work here as accountants.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The exhibition opens on 14th January and runs until 1st February. The Private View is from 18.00 to 21.00 on Friday 18th January, and will feature, as well as art, music and poetry with a strong Soviet flavour.

AIG is also holding a subsequent exhibition in February at the Hive Gallery, curated by Svetlana, this time involving international artists who are members of the group. Entitled ‘Conversation Pieces’, it is the result of a cultural exchange between Russian and British artists. Alexey Gilarov, Vasili Racov, Carla Boulton and Svetlana who are exhibiting new paintings and drawings, holding a ‘conversation’ through art which needs no translation.

Alexey and Vasili live in Moscow. They work on  monumental interior paintings on facades, on both public and private facilities, using mural, mosaic, fresco, stained-glass and graffito techniques. Svetlana  and Carla are Shropshire based artists who work in different media : drawing, painting, collages, ceramics , photographs and films.
The artists’ work is held in private collections in the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy and Russia.

The artists inhabit different continents and speak different tongues; this exhibition allows them to have a dialogue using their artworks as a universal language. This promotion of cultural diversity, it is hoped, will celebrate all that is similar alongside all that is different. Their collaboration will continue with exhibitions in Moscow.                     

Tuesday 11 May 2010


The Artists, from left, Paola, Carla, Svetlana

Svetlana Elantseva
I am Russian. I worked as a member of a team of artists producing communist Soviet-style art until the advent of Perestroika.
In England I finished a BTEC in Fine Art, and an introduction to Art Therapies at Shrewsbury College of Art and Technology, then a Foundation Degree in Creative Art for Employment at Staffordshire University. I am now a student on the BA Hons Entrepreneurship for the Creative and Cultural Industries, Fine Art course at Staffordshire University.
My paintings no matter what the subject content or the intended message are instantly recognisable as being in the Russian style, through the colours and the way they are used together. Throughout my life and travels I have always felt a connection to my homeland. This develops my way and my art, where I pay homage to my heritage, my country and its ways of life.

Carla Boulton
I am English, born near Birmingham in the gaudy late sixties. Brought up in a family of business people and farmers, I was encouraged to make a living, do something I love and never give up. I have always worked in the creative industries from drawing images to be printed on fabric in the early eighties to designing books in the nineties, I have also continuously studied art gaining various qualifications along the way.
Now, with a large family and unfaltering interest in the new, I split my time between my graphic design business, making art with children in an infant school, drawing and studying for an additional career.

Paola Alessandri-Gray
I am Italian, with a degree in architecture and a string of other qualifications, ranging from nutritional therapy, to horticulture, to health promotion, teaching, motivational interviewing and others. I have inherited a passion for photography from my father and grandfather. My second artistic love is printmaking.
I lead a double life as a serious public servant and a committed artist. I have been cycling for over 40 years, singing choral music for over 30, living in England for 20 and practicing yoga for 10.