Posted: 30.03.2023 12:54:00

The tree comes alive in the hands

You can see an exhibition of works by Nikolai Krivonos in the Khotimsk House of Crafts

In two shifts: work as a physical education teacher at school No. 2 in Khotimsk and a volleyball class. In addition, Nikolai Krivonos spends all his free time in the workshop. Actually, this is a simple balcony on the first floor of a five-story building. The wood carver has all the tools there: chisels, knives and brushes. The work drags on until late at night. Shavings and sawdust are carried around the apartment, but the family no longer pays attention. There is something to show guests — real works of art: a carved arch in the corridor, a coffee table and a shelf in the kitchen — original accents in the interior, carved icons, vases, eco-ware, fancy figurines... This is not consumer goods, you want to keep such things in your hands for a long time consider and marvel at how an ordinary piece of wood became pliable in the hands of the craftsman.

Nikolai Krivonos finds his source of creativity in his childhood, “Behind a talented student there are always great teachers. I am grateful to the drawing teacher Nikolai Savchenko and the teacher of the wood carving class Mikhail Pugachev.
However, my uncle was also a craftsman in our large family. At first, I mastered the skill by playing war games: I cut out machine guns from the boards for myself and my comrades. Somehow, I went to football competitions on my way to a drawing competition — that is how the sport took over in my career preference.
I graduated from the Pedagogical Institute, I work as a physical education teacher. I used to run a wood carving workshop in the regional centre of creativity for children and youth: the guys liked making gliders, military equipment and bows. But there must be talent for this, a great desire to learn the secrets of mastery, you need to be assiduous. Modern children are not accustomed to making efforts to create something, the consumer society teaches a person to live on everything ready. Moreover, the new generation also has a tendency to monetise everything: they have just made a frame for work, and they already write a price tag on it.”
 Today Nikolay Krivonos works in the regional House of Crafts. His personal exhibition-sale was located there, the works of the Khotimsk carver can be seen at fairs, such as Alexandria Gathers Friends. And this year, the district centre will become the capital of the regional Dazhynki holiday, so he can already start carving souvenirs for the guests of the holiday — the workers of the village, — Nikolai makes plans, 

“Among products popular with buyers at fairs are wooden utensils and figurines. People like such souvenirs because they keep the warmth of the craftsman’s hands. The tree has a special energy. Belarusians have always been surrounded by forests, and our ancestors sought to create beauty around them. The most ordinary materials — straw, clay and wood — turned into real works of art in their hands.” 

The craftsman keeps his gold reserve in the basement. These are snags, boards and logs. It happens that fellow countrymen provide material for his creativity. 
— A friend calls: ‘Kolya, we cut down a dangerous linden. We immediately thought of you’. I said that I have no car to bring it, and they made the home delivery. Well, linden is really the best wood for carving — a rather soft and light material. It is almost not subject to cracking and shrinkage, it is well cut and generally easy to process. But the problem is that landscaping in cities, tree pruning is done in the spring, when there is the most sap flow in the same linden.
And then you dry it, you dry it, so it’s better to prepare your material in the fall. I am very grateful to our rector of the Holy Trinity Cathedral Father Pavel. He handed me linden logs of perfect condition after they put things in order on their territory. I want to donate an icon to the church. In my house there is an icon of St. George the Victorious, my favourite work.
How do new creative ideas come about? Sometimes he wants to test himself. Once Nikolai saw an image of a girl with tigers in a magazine — he carved a panel in a tree for 15 years: inspiration of an artist is a capricious thing. At one time, Nikolai Krivonos began to create a photo gallery of all the works — as a keepsake. After all, for the most part they go to gifts, go to different cities and countries. But the craftsman quickly cooled down to the idea of archiving his work. After all, the greatest pleasure for an artist is to create and give beauty to people.

By Yelena Kukshinskaya