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Street art, poetry and opera

Sormovsky City District (or Sormovo) of Nizhny Novgorod despite its certain remoteness from the city centre has long been no longer considered a urban suburb. And even vice versa. Cultural life is in full swing here

Once in the summer the citizens of Sormovo that were going along the Barrikad Street towards the shipyard entrance to start their work shift observed an unusual picture: two dozens of young people equipped with paintbrushes and cans with paint were enthusiastically painting a brick dockyard wall

The wall, which survived three revolutions and proudly stepped into the 21st century, turned out to be an ideal platform for the works of the Nizhny Novgorod festival of street art “Place”. Seventy meters of classical industrial design of the 19th century, divided by pillars into identical four meters high rectangles (the total area of the street gallery was more than 300 square meters) became both the canvas and peculiar frames for twelve works of street art created by artists from Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk, Ryazan, Perm and other Russian cities.

On its own accord the facility contacted the festival organizer Nikita Nomerz, famous street-art artist of Nizhny Novgorod, and suggested using the shipyard’s fence which is passed by hundreds of dockyard workers every day as a location for the festival. Alexey Bulavin, Development Director, Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard, explains: “It’s the third time the festival has been held in Nizhny Novgorod. We watched with great interest as new art objects appeared in the central districts of the city. This year we’ve decided to support talented youth by giving them a place to display their work. We understand that each of the artists is unique; each of them has one and only style and manner – thus we did not try to impose any general themes or images on them. Therefore, the open-air gallery turned out to be very colourful, deep and original”.

The exposition opens with the work by Nizhny Novgorod artist Alexander STAN “Kraskoye Sormovo”. It urges to remind the viewer about the revolutionary past of the shipyard and the Barrikad Street. The red cloth on a black background with the calligraphic name “Krasnoye Sormovo” drawn in the style of Soviet posters and postcards attracts viewers from afar.

The “postage stamp” by a talented group of artists from Perm “Fruits” turned out to be the most appealing work for Sormovo citizens. The art group not only created a new picture in its own “vintage” style, repeating the Soviet postage stamp of 1972, but has also taken into account the peculiarities of the location. The cruiser “Ochakov”, which descended from building berths of the Sevastopol shipyard in 1902, is known for participating in the Sevastopol uprising of 1905. One of the leaders of the uprising was Lieutenant P. Shmidt. It is less known that at one time almost 1,200 tons of equipment for the cruiser under construction was produced in Sormovo.

Yuri YOURUN from Krasnoyarsk presented an abstract graffiti. The combination of lines, points, colours, geometric shapes plays out more on a psychological level. This feature is inherent in almost all types of abstract art.

The most famous of the “gallerists”, the author of the extremely popular series “Living Walls” Nikita Nomerz added images of fish and birds to his traditional composition of graphic silhouettes.

Not all the works of the “Sormovsky Gallery” are clear to the part of the audience, which is not versed in styles and streams of street art. But everyone has the opportunity to get aesthetic pleasure from contemplating sea inhabitants, depicted by the artists of the art group “Krepkij palets” (eng. Strong Finger) from Omsk or be terrified by the wild roar of a bear coming straight out of the painting “Nature’s Scream” by Moscow artist Alexei Medny. Some paintings are undoubtedly provocative, as every young art is vigorous and rather provocative in its spring period and when only first accessing the viewer.

The “Sormovsky Gallery” of street art will work for at least a year. And then new paintings may appear in its place – as it happens in Berlin, Paris, New York and other centres of street art. The main goal of the “Place” festival is to take a new look at the urban environment and to create new points of attraction for the residents and guests of the city. This year the idea has received a so to speak “Sormovo-style” incarnation.

Poems floating above the Volga

An unusual poetic event took place on June 12, on the Day of Russia, on the banks of the Volga River at the foot of the famous Chkalovsky stairs. Here, at the monument to the boat “Hero” were gathered poets of the “Volga” – Sormovo literary institution, and thus the verses about Sormovo, ships and shipbuilders echoed through the area.

During the celebration, Yury and Nikolay Simonov, Dmitry Terentyev and Margarita Finyukova read their works dedicated to the ships, the shipyard and its history, to fantastic work energy and creativity.

The awarding of Nikolay Simonov, the head of the literary institution since 2005, the shipbuilder and a member of the Union of Writers of Russia, by the USC diploma for popularizing the profession of a shipbuilder and reflecting in his works the glorious history of Russian shipbuilding became a very special moment of the celebration.

Furthermore, the All-Russian Sailing Federation held the fourth stage of the National Sailing League in the Volga River offshore. The USC is being the prime sponsor of this grand competition fifth year in a row. The event was confined to the 350th anniversary of the arrival of the first Russian warship in Nizhny Novgorod – the Orel frigate – on which the Russian flag went up for the first time.

The Gorky Shoe

Quite an unusual event was held on June 18, 2019 in the repair and mechanical workshop of the Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard. Principal performers of the Nizhny Novgorod State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Alexander Pushkin sang arias from the opera “Mother” by Tikhon Khrennikov.

As part of “Original art work celebration day” the shipyard workers were presented with scene designs for the opera, created by stage designer Vitaly Mazanov in 1957 and stored in the funds of the Nizhny Novgorod State Museum in the name of A. M. Gorky.

The next day, these designs were exhibited at the main entrance of the facility and later moved to the Museum of History of the “Krasnoye Sormovo Shipyard”, where the travelling exhibition “Mother: insight into the sanctuary of the heart” was opened. The exhibition introduces the history of the creation of the novel “Mother” by Maxim Gorky, as well as the history of the opera in Gorky (former name of Nizhny Novgorod) in 1957. Visitors will learn about the place Sormov holds in this book, which has become an encyclopaedia of the labourers life at the beginning of the 20th century and the origins of the Russian revolutionary movement for the whole world.

The symbolic prize – “Gorky Shoe” was established by the Nizhny Novgorod State Museum in the name of A. M. Gorky in 2008

The novel was written in 1906-1907s. The impetus to its writing was a real event – the May Day demonstration in 1902 at the Sormovo Shipyard. Gorky belonged to Sormovo in a very deep way, he felt and understood the energy of this place very well. Nowadays, the Museum of the Shipyard’s history conducts special excursions on the so-called writer’s “Sormovo routes”.

The event programme was performed in the same historic workshop where Peter Zalomov, who became the prototype for Pavel Vlasov – the main character of the novel, worked in 1902. Gorky emphasized Zalomov’s fate as he was sentenced to a lifelong exile in Eastern Siberia: in March 1905, the writer sent 300 rubbles to organize his escape.

The plot of the novel attracted the attention of famous Soviet composer Tikhon Khrennikov: he even visited Sormovo, where he met with Peter Zalomov’s wife and Sormovo workers.

Lead singers, Elena Shevchenko (Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation), Evgeny Scorochkin and Mikhail Naumov noted the surprisingly good acoustics of a high workshop bay. A bold experiment was no doubt a success. And it may continue.

The event was held in the framework of the project “Cultural District”, organized with the support of the administration of Nizhny Novgorod. In 2019, the Sormovsky City District became the steppingstone for this project.

In the end of the event Larisa Motorina, Director of the Nizhny Novgorod State Museum in the name of A. M. Gorky, thanked for their assistance in organizing the event the Shipyard’s management and presented Mikhail Pershin, the facility’s General Director, with the “award of friendship” – the “Gorky Shoe-2019” in nomination of “Implementation of new ideas in creative work”. The symbolic “Gorky Shoe” prize was established by the Museum of A. M. Gorky in 2008 in commemoration of Gorky’s brilliant literary debut during his life in Nizhny Novgorod and his worldwide literary fame. The prize is awarded to scientists, cultural workers, artist, and writers and from 2019 – to labourers as well. It is awarded to energetic, talented people, or as defined by the writer to people with a “living soul and cheerful mood”, to those with “the sun in their blood”.

The “Gorky Shoe” is a copy of the shoe, which used to stand on the desk of Alexei Maksimovich Gorky; nowadays it is displayed at the State Museum in the name of A. M. Gorky. The shoe is a symbol of a road, a perpetual motion and a difficult “street-tough” beginning of the writer’s life journey. In 1902, admirers of Gorky’s talent from Nizhny Novgorod in honour of the 10th anniversary of the great author’s literary activity presented the writer with ten “shoes” – copper ashtrays in the form of a worn-out torn shoe. Those ashtrays were made at the Sormovo Shipyard! The writer, who smoked up to seventy cigarettes a day until the end of his life appreciated the gift.

Upon the recieval of the “Gorky Shoe”, Mikhail Pershin, General Director of the Kraskoye Sormovo Shipyard, said: “It is wonderful that one of the “shoes” has come back to the shipyard today. For us, this is both a reward and a motivation to continue the development of a cultural environment at the facility in a new way, without following any clichés, by giving the way to new projects, supporting talented people and interesting initiatives”.

The publication was prepared by the press service and the Museum of History of the “Krasnoye Sormovo” Shipyard.


Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera
Street art, poetry and opera