Russian Types and Scenes
By Richard Davies
19 June – 27 September 2015
Richard Davies works as a photographer. Since 2002 he has travelled extensively in Northern Russia. In 2011 he published the book '“Wooden Churches: Travelling in the Russian North”. Davies chooses Charles Roden Buxton's words from almost 100 years ago to introduce his book “Russian Types & Scenes”, a companion volume to “Wooden Churches”. Davies continues: “Photographing the churches was exciting and exhilarating but it was also frustrating. My camera was attached to a tripod. I faithfully gave my attention to the tripod and its camera, adjusting the position, the level, the height, the framing, the focus, the shutter speed and the aperture while brushing away snow, rain and mosquitoes from the lens. I knew that if I was to move away for a moment the sun would burst through the clouds; a dog, a cow, a horse or a wonderfully exotic Russian would hove into frame. Meanwhile all around me extraordinary everyday things were happening.”
“I did take some photographs away from the tripod but our schedule was tight and there was little time to loiter - a prerequisite for reportage photography. The majority of the photographs in Russian Types and Scenes have been taken since the publication of Wooden Churches. I've continued to travel to the Russian North with friends, journalists, restorers, students and film makers.”
“On most of these trips I've left my tripod at home or at best kept it deep in my luggage, to be called upon to photograph a church I haven't photographed before. I now travel with a light handheld camera. The schedules have been slightly less demanding, although no less adventurous, but more importantly with less to carry and to take care of, there has been more time and energy to loiter.”
Russian Types was the generic title the St Petersburg photographer William Carrick (1827-78) gave to the photographs he took of tradespeople, peasants, priests and officials in his studio in the mid-nineteenth century and later to the scenes of Russian life taken in the 'field'. This genre became very popular and was taken up my many photographers, artists and postcard publishers well into the 20th century. Richard Davies's exhibition examined and responded to this tradition.