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Slideshow: The Decaying Wooden Churches of Russia

Wooden Church in Russia

In 1902 the artist Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin traveled Russia drawing and photographing decaying wooden architecture. In an article for World of Art magazine in 1904, he wrote of the churches he found,

“The state of the churches is most lamentable. In the hands of uncivilized people, they are being vandalised to the point of destruction or are ruined with 'restoration' to the point of being unrecognisable.”

More than a century later, photographer Richard Davies set out to photograph the state of these churches today. In an introduction to his series of photographs, Davies writes:

The basic simplicity of the log cabin construction and the extravagant fantasies superimposed on it are just as startling. 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.

Many churches have been saved by dedicated specialists and enthusiasts, whose untiring work goes on. We hope that the photographs in this exhibition will help raise public awareness of the plight of these wonderful buildings and that more restoration projects will attract the funding they deserve.

(Thanks, Coudal.)

Images courtesy of Richard Davies.