These beautiful but depleted, centuries old wooden churches were captured through the lenses by Richard Davies. Richard was inspired by the works of Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin (1876 - 1942) a well known artist, stage designer and illustrator of Russian Folk Tales, who drew attention to the condition of the wooden churches through a series of photographs published in a 1904 article in the World of Art Magazine.
Seeing these beautiful postcards inspired Richard to travel to the Russian North in 2002 to find out which churches had survived. Further trips have followed every year. Many churches have been lost: some have been left to rot; some have been destroyed by lightning; countless others by ignorance, spite and neglect. One church was hit by a reversing tractor - it tumbled like a pack of cards.
“There is however much to celebrate.”, Richard writes. “Although the churches that remain are in varying states of decay and despite their neglect and the wrecking of their interiors, these extraordinary structures have a spiritual presence which commands respect even in the absence of their gilded icons.”
Richard Davies now holds exhibition to help raise public awareness of the plight of these wonderful buildings, and encourage restoration work on them.
Verkhniaya Uftiuga, Arkhangel region, Church of St Demetrius of Thessalonica (1784)
Permogorye, Arkhangel region, Church of St George (1665)
Samino Pogost, Arkhangel region, Church of The Prophet Elijah (1692 -1702)
Kizhi, Karelia, Church of the Transfiguration (1714)
Kondopoga, Karelia, Church of the Assumption (1774)
Kokkoila, Karelia region, Chapel of St Barbara (early 18th C)
Kosmozero, Karelia region, Church of St Alexander Svirsky (1769)
Polya, Karelia region, Church of the Prophet Elijah (18th C)
Yandomozero, Karelia region, Church of St Barbara the Martyr (1650)
Ust'Yandoma, Karelia region, Chapel of St George (17 - 18th C)
Kovda, Murmansk region, Church of St Nicholas (1651)
Liadiny, Arkhangel region, St Blaise's Church of the Intercession (1761)
Krasnaya Liaga, Arkhangel region, Church of St Michael (1655)
Oshenvenskoye, Arkhangel region, Church of the Epiphany (1787)
Izma, Arkhangel region, Church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour (1679)
Bukhalovo, Arkhangel region, Chapel of Saint Nicholas (19th C)
Podporozhye, Arkhangel region, Church of St Vladimir (1757)
Rakuly, Arkhangel region, Church of the Resurrection (1766)
Sheleiki, Leningrad region, Church of Dmitri the Miracle Worker (1783)
Tulgas, Arkhangel region, Church of St Blaise (18th C)