Friends of Kholui
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About the Friends of Kholui

Studying with a master artist
Studying with master artist Piotr Mityashin

In September 1997 a group of ten from the UK went on a Miniatures and Art Tour of Russia organized by Ludmilla Fishchuk and Cherry Gilchrist, in collaboration with Steppes East Travel Co. We visited Palekh, Fedoskino, and later Kholui Art School, where we were given a warm welcome by the Director, Mikhail Pechkin, and his staff. In admiring the students' work we became acutely conscious of the shortage of art materials such as paper, pencils, paint, and brushes. Before leaving for Moscow and home, we donated whatever cash we could spare. Later we heard that this money had enabled them to buy a lorry-load of coal with which to heat the School, thus keeping it open for work the following winter. In 1998 a slightly larger group, including four of the previous year's party, visited Kholui. Once again, when about to leave for home, we expressed our desire to help the Art School further. There and then we formalized our resolve and aims, and the Friends of Kholui was born. Officers and a logo were established for the group before we went our separate ways in the UK.

The Friends of Kholui assist the Art School and village by donating art equipment, as well as giving financial aid; both are taken personally to this small Russian village, 300 km north-east of Moscow, to ensure safe delivery. In appreciation of this help, Kholui art students presented a beautiful plaque painted with the Firebird emblem of the village to the Friends in 1999, and have since painted special brooches, also depicting the Firebird, to be given to new members on joining.

A group of Friends visits Kholui most years with the help of Ludmilla Fishchuk, under the auspices of ARSA-F, and is guaranteed a warm welcome. Over the years many personal friendships have been established between members of the Friends and Kholui's artists and their families, whose hospitality embraces boating, picnics, and invitations to their homes.

On visits to Kholui we have watched the lacquer boxes being made and marvelled at the skilled work involved. In recent years masterclasses have been set up so Friends can begin to learn some of the ancient techniques used to produce lacquer miniatures. Kholui artists Evgeniy Grachev and Pyotr and Olga Mityashin have more than once exhibited their work at exhibitions in the UK jointly organized by ARSA-F and the Friends.

The Friends of Kholui is indeed a friendly organisation! As a member, you will be invited to occasional meetings or social get-togethers, where ideas and experiences can be shared. You will have the opportunity to go in small groups on trips both to the four "lacquer villages", and other parts of the beautiful country of Russia. Masterclasses in small groups are also available in all four lacquer villages. You will receive a twice-yearly newsletter giving updates on our work, travellers' experiences and news of the artistic life of Kholui. You can join here

Picnic by the lake
Picnic by the lake