Thursday, 27 October 2011


So we reached a complete and total Ware Nirvana when we finally hit the fabled old Izmailovsky flea market in Moscow's north eastern suburbs. Having wandering aimlessly for a good three hours after a bum steer from the famously incomprehensible Moscow underground system (or was it me?), we finally followed a trickle of colourful local folk sniffin' bargains heading towards the market through the spectacular entrance gate below.

Izmailovsky seemed predominantly a tourist trap, every second stall flogging colourful nesting dolls and tacky souvenirs. We stumbled upon a fantastic old nut scratcher driving a very hard bargain at the rear however, selling row upon row of original Commie propaganda posters. After much energetic banter and theatrical disappearances we finally settled on a price for two beautiful posters - the piece de resistance of our Russian wares haul. I chose the one below for its pretty femininity (there was no way I was putting an enormous red Stalin on me wall) and its significant date as an International Womens' Day celebration in eastern Europe. The fact that I then went and left it on the overnight train from Petersburg to Tula is neither here nor there...merely another illustration of my numbskullery.

The market also sold an array of typically Russki fayre such as the authentic furs below. Vegetarian? Animal rights activist? I'm so sorry. In this country computer says no.


Sunday, 9 October 2011


Russian ladies...a peculiar breed...each and every one of them got serious swag and rocking their own particular sartorial vibe. We were astounded by the preponderance of young ones who truly were blessed with supermodel genetics and the older ones that were styling it up on a babushka/gypsy/Rocky Horror Transylvanian tip. Young or old...they all very clearly knew their way around the local cosmetics counter, hairdresser, beauty parlour and discount clothing emporium. Hooray for Capitalism!

Friday, 7 October 2011


A definite highlight of our Far Eastern European extravaganza was discovering the quirky work of Mikhail Karasik in the Avant-Garde Museum, St. Petersburg. Karasik is a leading exponent of the Russian 'artist book' movement - creating unique handmade books that combine literature, art and design in low print runs (usually less than 20). Karasik utilises graphic imagery and pop-style colours often fused with lithographs created in his own studio. The books are pieces of unique, idiosyncratic art (each edition slightly varied) yet also literary texts to be read. 

The Avant-Garde show featured large prints of the artist's work, each piece immediately suggesting a recognisably 'Russian' aesthetic. Karasik's early 20th c constructivist and futurist influences are obvious, however his treatment is far more humorous, the colour palette softer and lighter. His sepia and pastel tones modernise the stark, aggressive gravity of the communist reds and blacks of Constructivist Alexander Rodchenko's style. Karasik uses iconic Russian imagery in a playful, absurd way - Red Square's creepy Lenin Mausoleum given a vibrant pink sky, while Lenin and a bearded crony are given a summer holiday vibe as they chillax in a beautiful garden.

See more of Karasik's brilliant work here.

Monday, 3 October 2011


The streets of Russia seemed to be perversely awash with fresh meat in uniform. Sailor boys a dime a dozen sauntered around the waterfront streets of Petersburg while surly-looking army types paraded manfully across Red Square. Even Police Academy boys roamed the streets in packs sporting fetching double-denim Canadian Tuxedoes* and saucy baseball caps. Eminating that sexy yet mildly intimidating whiff of authority, these young bucks ruled the streets knowing they come from a country where the men are real men and the women are glad about it. Judging by the numerous, sweet and feverish public displays of affection we witnessed from the young men toward their birds...maybe thats not a bad thing.

* Canadian Tuxedo (c) Mal Saymontry 2008...revolting double demin ensemble often sported by redneck North Americans