How did you get the opportunity to study in The Netherlands?
My research advisor from the Ural University encouraged me to continue my research abroad and apply for the IFP-IIE International Fellowships Programme. I was lucky to receive their generous financial assistance and support. Without having a grant it would not have been possible for me to study abroad and conduct further research in my field of professional interests.
Why did you choose the University of Groningen (RUG)?
When you are an IFP Fellow, the Programme welcomes you to apply to several universities. I was accepted to an English and a Dutch university (RUG). My choice was based both on intuition and good sense. Firstly, since my first year at the Ural University I have had a deep interest in Dutch and Flemish art and studying in the Netherlands was a perfect chance to continue in this field. Secondly, I felt for some reason that the University of Groningen was the place where I would be able to adapt and have a fruitful time achieving good results. As soon as I started my studies in Groningen, I realised that my expectations were absolutely correct. The Faculty of Arts at the RUG is small but very active and dynamic which means that the professors are at the top of their field and are always there when a student needs advice. Moreover, according to international ratings the RUG is consistently amongst the top 100 highly rated universities.
Was your study programme mostly theoretical or did you also have internships?
It was a research Masters with a greater accent on theoretical aspects. However, I was lucky to have a research internship at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam which was kindly arranged for me by the professors of the Faculty of Arts. They knew that back in Russia I work in a museum and that it is highly important to expand professional networks and interact with colleagues on an international level. Later on, while working on my thesis I had several study trips to Maastricht because I conducted research on the collection of the Bonnefantenmuseum. Collaboration with both museums gave me important practical skills which I am currently trying to apply at work at the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts. For instance, we have recently opened an exhibition of Dutch, Flemish and Belgian art from the collections of five regional Russian museums and happily I had the chance to work on it with other colleagues.
Are you still working with Dutch and Flemish art?
I work as a curator of the collection of Western European art which consists of paintings, prints and drawings. We also have a small but very good collection of European sculpture. I try to research artworks from various European regions when possible, so my attention is focused on the whole collection. However, as my major specialisation is Dutch and Flemish pieces, they are my first priority to conduct research on. During my stay in the Netherlands there was a good chance to collect research material and have a closer look at the museum collections and at the moment we are hosting an exhibition of Dutch, Flemish and Belgian art in Ekaterinburg.
Have you found the contacts you made in Holland have been useful in your current job?
Yes. For example I was kindly accepted as a member of the CODART, an international council of curators of Dutch and Flemish art. As a result, the collection of the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts is now introduced to and admired by specialists on an international level. The CODART provides many possibilities to learn more about Dutch and Flemish pieces and artists, to consult with experts and senior colleagues on various subjects. They collaborate with regional museums to a great extent. For example, they supported the exhibition we are currently hosting.
The Bilateral Russian-Netherlands Year 2013 is a great time to be hosting an exhibition of Dutch art, can you tell us more about the exhibition which your museum has organized?
Well the timing could not be more perfect! This exhibition, organised by the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts, presents more than seventy paintings, graphic works of art, drawings and Delftware from five Russian museum collections (Ekaterinburg, Omsk, Nizhny Tagil, Tyumen and Perm), including some pieces which are extremely rare in Russian regional collections. The exhibition is amongst the largest Dutch, Flemish and Belgian art projects, in terms of size and variety, held in the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts in the last few years.
One of our main aims is to underline the diversity and to trace the development of Dutch, Flemish and Belgian art from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. For this reason we have selected beautiful Dutch paintings from the Golden Age, Flemish monumental paintings on religious and mythological themes, as well as romantic landscapes and still-life paintings by nineteenth Century Belgian artists. Together it forms a complex image of artistic tendencies, life and taste in the Low Countries.
Did you have a chance to work with paintings by famous artists for this exhibit?
Yes. Although regional collections are not as large as those in Moscow or St Petersburg, sometimes you can still find there are many exceptional pieces. We are proud to present such highlights as panel paintings by Franz II Franken, portraits by Nicolaes Maes and Hendrick van Vliet, a landscape by Jan van Goyen, genre paintings by Isaac van Ostade and Jan Baptist Lambrechts.