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Philip Davydov & Olga Shalamova

Back and There Again. July 2022 Newsltter

Back and There Again. July 2022 Newsltter

  • 1. Zooms
  • 2. 'Business' Trip
  • 3. Icons
  • Hello again and I beg your pardon for getting in touch so quickly again!

    Egg Tempera course is gradually filling up, today we start teaching Course 1 again and we would like to share two new images (at the bottom of this page), but the main reason I am writing to you today is different.

    I am sending out this Newsletter to say how happy I was to meet so many of you at our last zoom!!! The recorded versions are available here (session 1), and here (session 2).

    From now on we decided to make the zooms monthly and to meet regularly. Join us on Saturday the 23rd of July! From now on it is fully accessible, here is the link for everybody:

    We will have the same schedule and 2 sessions as we had last time:

    • 16:00 Perth (Australia)
    • 16:00 Singapore
    • 18:00 Melbourne and Sydney (Australia)
    • 12:00 Tbilisi (Georgia)
    • 11:00 Moscow (Russia)
    • 10:00 Paris, Berlin, Rome, Amsterdam
    • 09:00 London
    • SESSION 2

    • 10:00 Mountain Time
    • 12:00 (midday) Eastern time
    • 17:00 in London
    • 18:00 in Paris, Rome, Berlin
    • 19:00 in Moscow
    • 20:00 in Tbilisi

    Now I will ask here, - please!!! join us some minutes before the meeting as I will not be able to let you when the lecture begins.
    I will speak about the very process of learning iconography. The topic can sound like “What Exactly We Learn When We Learn Iconography”, - it’s about mechanisms the learning process involves. Everybody is welcome to share personal thoughts, particularly about how your aims changed with time and what would you have told yourselve in the past, if we met. I will speak about the steps I went through, and I invite you to share your experiences - what were your main steps / levels? How has your idea of what you want to achieve changed with time? At the end we can talk about anything we want and if you have any questions I will be happy to answer. Please, come, - I hope to see you on the 23rd! Here is the link for joining:

    "Business" Trip

    After spending 3 months in Georgia we decided to visit Saint Petersburg for a few weeks - to see our son and to do some official things and return back to our home in Tbilisi. I also wanted to finish the iconostasis (the one with tumbled glass mosaic I started last year). We drove back across Caucasus mountains, using the only road connecting Russia with Georgia and Armenia at this part of the earth.
    The brightest part is of course the part, where we drove in Mountains, it was so high, that we actually drove in a cloud. You can see it on the video, - especially the last part where we get out of the cloud to the sunny valleys...

    We decided to return as I was afraid the parish priest could decide to “finish” the iconostasis in his way. I was right, we arrived just in time and now I am resuming my work and hope to share the photographs soon. Concerning other aspects of life the main feeling we have here is confusion. From the day of arrival we do not allow ourselves to feel home to be our home, considering this whole time a business trip. Yet, what we feel in the air and how this situation unfolds is difficult to put in words.

    First and main impression is this: prices went up 20-80%, but life goes on and people pretend (or pretend that they pretend) that nothing is happening. In the first days of war I remember there were lots of discussions among people in public places. Now I hear absolutely no talks about the ‘special operation’. Nobody mentions it or speaks about any related topic. Rev. Gregory MIkhnov Voitenko I guess it became a kind of taboo’, - a side of life ‘you-can-not-name’ if you do not want to go to prison. On one of the first evenings we walked in the city center and saw expensive restaurants full of people in fancy dresses and simple people enjoying white nights walks and boat trips, hungry for tourism and sightseeing after 2 years of pandemics restrictions.

    Comparing this situation with 2014, we see a great difference. Back then we saw lots of our compatriots openly demonstrating their joy with stickers on their cars, T-shirts and in other ways. Now, after driving about 2000 miles we can testify that among hundreds and hundreds of private cars we saw on our way, we saw extremely few having letter Z (officially announced symbol of support for our troops) on them. Literally, we saw two cars on our way to Saint Petersburg and three here in situ, and only one of these 5 cars had St Petersburg licence plates. For me it shows the absence of voluntary support of ‘special operation’ among our compatriots, but at the same time I see that official propaganda is extremely strong so people simply can’t stop trusting their leader… Can’t recognize all that they used to hear and see in the Media for the last 20 years is a huge lie.

    People don’t speak about the war, except among very close friends, and those very few heroes helping Ukrainian refugees here in Saint Petersburg and around. One of them is an Orthodox priest Gregory Mikhnov-Voitenko, who left Moscow patriarchate jurisdiction in 2014, and managed to stay free, since then helping political prisoners and now also refugees. He has a team of helpers, and together they do great things. If you like to make a donation, you can contact him via Facebook or just use his US friend's Paypal: .

    So we are here some more days (it feels like a countdown), and on Sunday after the Zoom we go back to Tbilisi.


    Textile icon in progress

    Yet we have not finished our missions. I am spending most of my days in the church (some of you could have seen my instagram posts with “mosaicists at work”) while Olga is making good use of her solid studio table. She had a plan to print some textile icons with both old and new patterns and stencils. She discovered that printing on fabric gives her a unique possibility to exploit an endless number of opportunities and options, given by the same design. Now when I return to the studio in the evenings I see about two dozen pieces, (some with similar subjects), varying in colours and composition details. Some of them look finished, some are still in progress, but before our departure most of them should be ready for final touches, which will be possible to make in Tbilisi.

    We will publish them later, when they all will be ready, - I promise to keep you posted, - now I just wanted to share a closeup, so you can see the details.

    And the last image for today, - icon of Christ. I painted it in Tbilisi and brought it here to add pieces of tumbled glass.

    Encaustic icon of Holy Mandylion

    You see, that this image is mainly 'based' on the rich texture of old hazelnut wood, I think it also gives a historical dimension. Cracks reveal a difficult biography of wood, and it’s been a challenge: to make the icon become a natural extension (conclusion) of wood. The hardest, but also most intriguing part was to let the wood talk, adding just a little bit of my work, accomplishing the mission with minimum means. One more side is the authenticity of wood, which I guess is much older then I am. This piece of timber was given to me in one of the outskirts of Tbilisi and the moment I saw it I thought to use the darkness of this wood to be the basic shadow of the icon. The idea was to make this whole icon dark, almost black with little sparkles of highlights on the face so it would echo the time we live in. Even in the darkest times we have a bit of hope, and I wanted to let it shine. Hope it does not look too “literary”.

    Thank you again for your continuous support!

    With warmest greetings, Philip & Olga P.S. If you like to stay in touch via , we made a special group, named thoughtful iconography Studies, - join us

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