A new exhibition in Berwick explores how a Russian artist ended up residing in Berwick and how this time impacted on his life and art.
Kirill Sokolov: A Russian Painter in Northumberland opens at Granary Gallery on Saturday, February 2.
It tells the story of artist Kirill Sokolov who was born in Moscow in 1930 just as his homeland was being transformed by the fearsome establishment of Stalin’s Socialism.
In 1960 he met and married a British research student. It was one of the first foreign marriages to a citizen of a capitalist country after the repeal of Stalin’s marriage laws and was specifically sanctioned by the then premier of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev.
Following his father’s death in 1974, Kirill set off to Britain with his mother, his wife, and their eight-year-old daughter. After driving across Europe they arrived in Berwick, which struck Kirill as beautiful but impossible to live in.
The family initially rented a farmhouse in East Lilburn near Alnwick, but found it too isolated, so moved to Berwick instead. Despite his initial reservations, Kirill loved the house – and the town with its sheltered harbour, viaduct, bridges, river walks, its junk shops and sturdy stone houses.
The exhibition includes over 30 of Kirill’s original artworks and focuses on his life in Berwick and Northumberland. It explores how his Russian art education influenced the work he produced in the town; how the events of his later life, including a fire at the family home in Ravensdowne which the majority of his life’s artwork was destroyed, had a dramatic impact on his artistic practice, and how he drew inspiration from the Northumberland landscape to take his practice in a new direction.
Kirill Sokolov: A Russian Painter in Northumberland is on show at the Granary Gallery from Saturday, February 2 until Sunday, May 5,