Anna Schcheglovia and her daughter Sacha invited us for supper last night. During Lent they eat no meat or milk and so they had prepared a delicious porridge, beetroot salad and cabbage salad for us.
The apartment block they live in dates to 1778 and they moved to St Petersburg 5 years ago from Vladivostok so that Sacha could study at the Fine Art Academy. Sacha has already completed 4 years at art college and is now now doing 6 years at The Academy. She says ‘I will study and study, and then I’ll be a grandma and die!’ She will be 27 when she graduates. The level of study for the arts in Russia is phenomenal, but such rigorous and long training produces the highest quality artists in the world!
This shot was taken in Anna’s bedroom and as part of her studies she has to copy the drawing on the wall. The large picture above is a self portrait she painted of her in modern dress with her grandfather who was in the war. She speaks great English and has a brilliant sense of humour … she tells stories with the mannerisms and enthusiasm of a great raconteur, whether it is philosophical thoughts ‘Destiny knows better than you.Don’t have an argument with your destiny – she knows best.’ Or explaining about the Russian belief in house spirits … Domovoy, and to make sure you have a friendly Domovoy you leave a saucer of milk for them. Anna explained that they obviously had a good one because one day she was boiling something in a saucepan and she had two types of pan – one that whistled when it started to boil and one that didn’t. She got distracted and went off to do something else and then heard the saucepan whistling, then realised she was using the pan that didn’t whistle!
Here is Anna with a work in progress – her pictures are so full of warmth, humour and optimism and she says that many people practice feng shui, so it is important to have happy and positive pictures on the wall because this will reflect back into your home. They have made a beautiful home in their apartment with a separate kitchen and bathroom – the majority of the block has a communal kitchen and bathroom … the communal entrance is a warren of corridors with people opening their doors to see us passing. But Anna and Sasha are dream neighbour’s compared to who lived there before – they would have bonfires inside the apartment, and a cat who used everywhere as a litter tray and piles of papers everywhere. The previous owners got moved out to a big three bedroomed apartment, because the grandmother had been in the siege of Leningrad and so their new apartment was an appreciation from the authorities … Their new neighbours aren’t so impressed though and think they might burn that apartment block down one day! No one else would touch the place, but all Anna could see was the big south facing windows and tall ceiling – she is a born optimist with a vision!