You may remember that we were delighted to track down Boris Anikin a few trips back because we thought he was dead! Poor Boris! Anyway, the last couple of trips we have prised some work from his archives that he really wanted to keep, as he wasn’t really painting anymore, just doing commissions when asked.
So imagine our delight when we visit this time to find he is back painting and has completed two pictures for us!
It didn’t stop Nettie rummaging through his picture store though!!
He cooks us a lunchtime feast of sausages (a tin of fish for Nettie!) and we have a long chat with his son Denis who had gone into business as an apple grower. He has 4 hectares (about 10 acres) and got his root stock from Kent! But he was describing how difficult it is for a small grower like him – because of the scale of the country he really needs 40 hectares to be viable!
He is a pioneer however because his apples are organic and he is very interested in holistic farming. He has been studying scientific research to come up with a system that will enable fruit to be produced without it being forced. He explains that because a tree is put under so much stress to yield fruit it only has a life span of 15 years, yet if you can work with a tree it will have a life span of 60/70 years. He is trying to prove that the ratio in cost of chemicals and manpower to keep a tree small and stressed and productive is far more expensive in the long run than allowing it to grow at its own pace and let nature take its course even with occasional crop failures. We talked for hours and could have talked more!
The fish is a recurring theme in Boris’s work and he is interested in the symbolism – from Christianity and Ichthys to ancient Egypt and the sacred oxyrhynchus fish. This is a collection of fish that Boris has caught over the years – the angel fish he caught in Cuba.
Denis told us a funny story about how he had been sailing around the Bahamas delivering a private yacht and he was on a small island having a snack with a friend. Someone overheard them talking in Russian and asked them where they were from and they said that they were Russian and joked that they were just about to return to the submarine. The person they were talking to took it seriously though, and 10 minutes later there was a helicopter and naval boats all crowding the area hunting for the submarine!
Boris has been illustrating a book of bible stories and a book on Christopher Columbus. He was telling us how he has illustrated Treasure Island twice – the first time was in the 1980’s and he had never been to England before, but he created this place in his head and the book was published. When he moved to England briefly in the ’90’s it was strange to find that it was identical to what he had imagined – even down to the name of his local pub!