creating place; nikolay polissky

‘Beaubourg’ 2013 like something straight out of Dr. Seuss. The weaving on this site just keeps getting bigger!

Russian land artist Nikolay Polissky, originally a painter from Moscow, began working with local villagers in an almost abandoned town, four hours from the city, in the year 2000. Since then, he and the people of Nikola-Lenivets have collaborated on something like 20 sculptures and he now resides there, on the edge of the forest. His first, temporary works were oversized structures built singularly from snow, hay, twisted branches, woven birch branches or timber. In the intervening years, using local materials he has transformed the wasted place into a cultural centre, and the inhabitants of Nikolay Levits have become co-owners of a proud creative process which attracts visitors from around the world.

‘Hay Tower’ (2000)

‘Lighthouse on Ugra’ 2004

His more recent works are mind-blowing in their precise engineering and scale but I am particularly fond of the primitive feel of earlier creations like ‘Media Tower’ (2002) below.



‘Media Tower’ was woven in the snow but had planter boxes inside so that vines full of vegetables trailed down the structure in summer. These were harvested to feed the arts village and eventually the tower was burnt when winter came again (check out the video where the piece is set alight in the snow by a semi-naked Russian man with a flaming apparatus!)



‘Firewood Tower’ (2001) resembled an ancient fort.


It’s was lit from within to achieve this nighttime effect. Upon dismantling, the important energy source wasn’t wasted – the cut wood was used in the villagers stoves over winter.

The astounding ‘Universal Mind’ (2012) also made from timber, shows how Nikolay Polissky’s technique has been refined in ten years.

Many of Polissky’s works use traditional basket weave but none with the audacity of this mammoth 2013 sculpture. ‘Beaubourg’ was named for the suburb in Paris housing the Pompidou Centre which, along with music, inspired the pipe-like forms of this latest piece and, and like Nikola-Lenivets, Beaubourg is another area to which culture has become life-blood.

«Вселенскии? Разум». Презентация нового проекта Николая Полисского в Никола-Ленивце + Лаборатория Театрика / «Камлание Перельмана» + Концерт англии?ского дуэта The ORB

«Вселенскии? Разум». Презентация нового проекта Николая Полисского в Никола-Ленивце + Лаборатория Театрика / «Камлание Перельмана» + Концерт англии?ского дуэта The ORB

The area around the base of the sculptures have been used for festival, dance and music type performances bringing people to nature, nature to culture and inspiring awe and respect for materials and techniques being rapidly lost.

This celebration of human collaboration and nature would be a quite a wondrous sight to behold I imagine…  …fast train to Moscow anyone?  Here’s a map I found on  his website of Nikola-Lenivets and, evidenced by the line underneath, they really do want us to visit!

I don’t think you will manage to get their without car and without speaking Russian. If you have problems getting there, we can help you, just call us.

There’s plenty more to look at on his website.

Ironically, Nikola-Lenivets apparently translates roughly to ‘Lazy Nicholas’.

I think not.


P.S. I don’t know what yet but the next post here is going to be about something very small!

Images all from the website of the artist