International Art project


Russia, lake Baikal, Olkhon island, Khuzhir village

phone in Irkutsk (Russia)


June-August 2019

Vladimir Chirkov  Candidate of Science in Philosophy, Associate Professor Member of the Commission on Art Studies and Criticism of the Union of Artists of Russia, Omsk

Just One Step From Symposium To Museum of Ceramics!

 In 2013, the International Art Symposium Baikal-CeraMystica, which had been launched in a test mode in 2012 as a plein air of ceramic art, transformed into a professional art project. That is why, that year is the project’s starting point. In 2014, Baikal-CeraMystica became an international project, and in 2016, it was held in this status for the third time in a row. Annual work meetings of professionals and the accumulated experience of organizational and creative activities allow to make a “midway recap”.

 The Symposium started from scratch. Its “bareness” was decorated only with the enthusiasm of Tatiana Eroshenko and Sergei Purtyan, which was supported and is backed now by all those who share the idea of these Irkutsk devotees. The Symposium’s idea propelled every step of the enthusiasts in their quest for goals and objectives. Let’s state them. However, first off, let me take the liberty of starting on a poetic note. After getting into the heart of the matter you cannot but admire a sophisticated and well thought out for the steps ahead calculation: to unite the future and the present and see how the present can preserve the richest experience of the past. The end goal — the future, and I hope I understood it correctly, is to create a Museum of Modern Ceramics in the Baikal region. What for? To preserve and develop the art of ceramics as a form of contemporary fine arts — the present! Why does the idea of holding such a Symposium sound so urgent? It is because artists — our contemporaries are acutely aware of the current critical situation: professional artistic ceramics, just like many other forms of art, is “outcompeted” by souvenir products and cheap consumer goods of international origin that can muscle out the fine and the beautiful from our lives — everything that elevated a human being for millenia — the past.

 The organizers of the Baikal Symposium designed the strategy for their activities during the meetings at Lake Baikal in a very accurate and step-by-step manner. From the particular to the general, from the small to the big. Their objectives can be read quite clearly. The first things to address are purely professional issues. The daily “routine” practice at the Symposium is composed of several parts: molding, working with the potter’s wheel, firing; master classes; presentations; documenting all the processes with photos and videos. Among the enumerated activities, an exceptional place is taken by master classes, where artists, as a rule, share their experience of creating works including the experience of using computer or other state-of-the-art technological or technical methods and materials. To speak the truth, it is only the process of taking out the forms from kilns, quenching them in sawdust, or obvara firing that can outcompete master classes in terms of visual appeal and heuristicity. The most comfortable time of the day — the evenings after dinner — is devoted to the presentations of the artists. Using video materials, the “orator” in a blink of the eye takes you to different corners of the world. In 2016, participants of the Symposium “visited” Brazil, different towns in Turkey and India, England, Mongolia, and Russian cities — from St. Petersburg to Irkutsk. The Symposium organized in this way helps address other issues as well. In particular, the ongoing cultural exchange and “private” interaction serve to bring people of different national traditions closer to each other, thus — it sounds sumptuously, but true — playing the role of an intermediary between peoples. Whereas foreign participants of the first Symposiums were coming to Siberia rather hesitantly expecting to see bears out in the streets, now they know that here we have good art not to mention the people — hospitable, big-hearted, and peaceful. The Symposium addresses another extremely important objective — education. Students and professors of art schools started to come to the Symposiums. Immersing into the creative environment, young people learn faster not only the basics of their profession, but also the most advanced technologies and techniques. Moreover, if we take into consideration the fact that sculptors and painters “infiltrate” the community of ceramic artists, then we witness the Synthesis, which every artistic individual always keeps thinking about. Its obvious confirmation is in the creation of ceramic “bouquets”, pictorial works with statuesque forms, and sculptural compositions that whimsically “migrated” into the post-modernist objects. These art works are immediately included into the “catalogues” of art critics whose invitation to the Baikal Symposiums has become a good tradition.

 These words were dedicated to the Ceramic Symposium on Olkhon Island: “... It is necessary at all cost to preserve this unique event as a birth point of a cultural phenomenon of Siberia, as a way of renewing and enriching our national art”[1]. All art critics from Moscow, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Ukraine, and Omsk who were lucky to be the invited participants of the Symposium unanimously subscribe to the abovementioned words of our colleague and the recognized and experienced critic Elena Vlasova from the St. Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design.

 Thinking about WHAT and HOW Tatiana Eroshenko and Sergei Purtyan are doing on Olkhon Island, one has only the highest hopes — the continuation both in the format of a Symposium and the Museum of Modern Ceramics in the Baikal region.

I will finish my brief speech this way. Yuri Malygin from Samara, the winner of the top prize in the category “Best Sculptural Solution” of the II Baikal-CeraMystica Symposium on Olkhon in 2013, upon the completion of a two-week work expressed perhaps the most important and on behalf of everyone opinion: “A sacral place stimulates creative work”[2]. For all Russians, and as I observed — for all good people of our planet, Baikal is that sacral place, which unites all of us and encourages us to do the most beautiful and kindest things that a human could ever do. Good luck on your journey!

[1] III International Art Symposium on Ceramics “Baikal-CeraMystica 2014”. Brochure. — Irkutsk: Time of Travels Press, 2014.

[2] II Russian Art Symposium “Baikal-CeraMystica 2013”. Brochure. — Irkutsk: Time of Travels Press, 2013. The Symposiums are made possible by grants from the Ministry of Culture of Russia, the Government of Irkutsk Region, and the Administration of the Khuzhir District in Olkhon, as well as support from our sponsors from various cities of the region.