Merry Christmas 2021!
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
May this year be time for conclusions, - so we can bring together all our COVID period experiences and see how and what we should change in our lives. And hope that these changes we introduce will lead us to new levels of understanding ourselves, our lives and our missions!
Here in Saint Petersburg it's such a snowy and inspirational winter - no time to raise heads from work, and wow - Christmas is here!
This autumn was full of challenges, one of them was a personal "promotion" (kind of...). Literally, - I had a life-changing experience of being a "Boss", (head) of Iconography School. It's the School, founded 30 years ago in St Petersburg Theological Seminary, and I worked there together with Alexander Stal'nov, Ivan Kusov, Valentina Zhdanova and others for an entire month! I used to teach iconography together with Olga for more than 15 years and I always dreamed to make a serious change...To teach students drawing (like we do at our online iconography drawing courses), so they could grow into autonomous masters, to adjust academic drawing to iconography purposes, to give iconographers interdisciplinary education... I was hoping I could do many things as I was invited to - "Raise the level of education"... Therefore I spent a month investigating the situation in our School and in other Icon schools of Russia, getting in close contact with colleagues whom I hardly knew before. I needed to learn what was good, what was not, and how to organize our school in the best possible way... But what I discovered in our school can not be described in positive terms. My immediate boss was the sister of patriarch Cyrill, and her only purpose was to discipline teachers, - she posed it as my main and only mission. And a bigger picture was even worse - lots of officials in church administration (including her, - the initiator of changes) prefer academic images in churches. Therefore she added lots of hours of pure academic studies to the curriculum. What I saw were young iconography students, painting expressionist still life images with oil, and walking to another class where they draw copies from 19th century realistic art pieces... Well, as soon as I understood I can't do anything real I left, but I am hoping to continue my mission :). I am working to change the program, so all studies may serve liturgical arts, not "representing our reality" (quotation from current document). Please, pray for us!
The rest of the time since the last newsletter was a normal routine. In addition to teaching online courses Olga started learning Batik technology, and I learn painting on glass ;). These technologies look promising and inviting for new challenges.
Thank you for being our subscriber. We hope to publish some more images before we start our next courses in January, Course 3 (Space in icons) for everybody by Philip and Course 4 (Block 2) for thoise, who's done previous courses by Olga.
May God bless you and your near, may He grant you time for creative realization of His gifts!!!
Philip Davydov and Olga Shalamova
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