Valerya Fadeeva

Valerya Fadeeva
Valerya Fadeeva

member of Union of Artists, member of Union of Stylists

State Premium in field of literature and art
«I was born in Ukraine – a country with a temperate climate and abundant wildlife. My clearest memory of that land of plenty remains to this day the luxuriant apricot blossom in April. Snow-white flowers on twisted black twigs with not a single leaf on.

My mother and father who were very active and busy people by nature, tried to interest me in sport: gymnastic, running, swimming. But I wasn't interested. I couldn't see the point of hard physical exercise and preferred to read books. As it turned out, I had a small natural talent for drawing, but I neither saw the need for nor developed it. I was always a good student. My mother bought me artists' paints and long-handled brushes to keep up the appearance of the high art in process.

Then one day (there must be one in every biography) I saw something that turned out to be my fate. In a gallery there was an exhibition of fabrics together with sketches of artists at a silk fabric factory.

The fabrics were beautiful. But it wasn't that that struck me. It was being able to see the fruits of one's labour.

I got to know artists, looked round their huge, bright studios, saw their finished designs and the preparatory sketches and decided to go where they had all studied – to the city of textiles and brides – Ivanovo.

It was then I began to study the fundamental principals of drawing. We painted countless still-lifes of round-bellied teapots on draped cloths, dried flowers and wax fruits. We had to study perspective and chiaroscuro on plaster figures.

Four years at Ivanovo College of Art and Manufacturing Design flew by unnoticeable and with ease. In composition lessons we learnt how to sketch designs for various fabrics: wool, silk, cotton, flannel and shawls, so that I had the opportunity to find out what worked best and where my heart lay.

Work experience in the artist's studios of the Ivanovo and Cherkasy textile factories helped to plunge me into the real world of fabric making.

I was a good student and as a result I was able to choose where I wanted to work. For my final assignment I choose what I thought was the most interesting and most difficult – a Pavlovskiy Shawl. To prepare for the final piece I went to Pavlovskiy Posad, knowing that I would be going back there to work full-time in just a few months.

For those who have never heard of a Pavlovskiy Shawl, I will try to describe it. It's a large woollen square (150cmx150cm) decorated with fabulous, intricate and bold designs which fire everyone's imagination. Flowers and decorative elements are brought to life by the designer's brush. The artist can make them quiver and bend as if blown in the wind or stand still – frozen like a painting to be viewed.

This year Pavlovskiy Posad celebrates 210 years of shawl manufacture (founded in 1795). This is no time at all for an artist's studio. Knowledge and experience are passed hand to hand from the mature artist to the young as if passing on a eternal flame of tradition. Young people do not only learn from the older generation, but they also do their bit in their own way to add to the coffers of traditional shawl-making methods.

The names of the first shawls were not modest and sometimes provocative - “Jeremy Jackson” at the Exhibition of Young Creativity at VDNKh, USSR in 1989 (for which they awarded a silver medal), “The Garden of Emptiness”, “A Sentimental Stroll”. To my young ears, names like “Roses and Rowan Trees”, “Annoushka”, “Fairy Tale” seemed low-brow and mawkish.

I wanted in some way to bring together what I knew about the traditions of making Pavlovskiy Shawls with the things that fascinated me: the drama and elegance of the stories of Dickens, at the same time unexpectedly clean and fresh like a breath of wind from the ocean, of Latin American poets, with the energy and power of hard rock and the laconicism of Japanese art. For that reason there was always a huge subtext to my designs, a lot of preparatory work.

A shawl always has its own prehistory. More often than not it's a feeling from a book that's been read or a concert at a conservatory, or just a snatched memory from a dream (yes, some of my designs came to me in dreams).

Having drawn the traditional square shape on the snowy surface of the “Whatman” paper, I try to fully express the idea which now seems to me to be the most important, the newest and the most singularly perfect. I begin by drawing the decoration (this work is very labour intensive and fine work and usually takes time), then my gaze falls upon the windowsill where “Britannia” and “Stargazer” lilies are blooming in flowerpots. These extremely beautiful and vigorous flowers look quite unnatural against the background of a winter landscapes (it's – 15 C outside). In the garden their sisters are still having sweet dreams and will only see the light in June. But these tactile flowers which have bloomed out of season have changed the character of my ornamental design, making it more alive and full of energy. This design is called “Flowers under the snow” - their time has yet to come. As soon as the sun warms up and the snow melts, roses, peonies and lilies will awaken in the soil and stretch skywards. There will be lots of them and they will blossom magnificently and looking at them will make me want to draw something different, nothing like this design.

So as not to get carried away while I am searching for new decorative features, fresh compositions or colour schemes, I always bear in mind whether it can be put into production and what sort of customer am I designing for. I believe that thought maintains the link between my creative journey and real life.

With time and experience comes what they call an individual signature – original ideas. The shawls can be given more mature names like “Expectation”, “Sorceress”, “Delight”, “Radiance” and “Carnival”.

I have built up a small collection of medals: two silver medals from VDNKh USSR (1989 and 1992). A medal to commemorate the 850th anniversary of Moscow (1998). Winner of the State Award for Literature and Art (2000) – that one is a testament to all the masters who worked at the factory before me whose help and experience helped me to become a real artist.»