Artist Anna Kornilova, 21, has been working in the technique of traditional Palekh lacquer minuature for several years. Born in a small Russian city of Palekh, Anna inherited passion for the art from her the artistic family - her parents, grand parents and brother are all painters. In summer 2012 Anna graduated from the Palekh Art College. Now she paints jewelery boxes, earrings, brooches, bracelets, hairpins, eyeglass cases and even computer mouses. Besides beautiful craftworks in the traditional Palekh style Anna creates pieces in her own individual manner.
Anna works from home - like many acclaimed Palekh artists. Previously artists in Palekh used to work in the Artistic Production Workshops, but the workshops were closed in the 1990s. On weekends Anna works as shop assistant in a local souvenir store “Kovcheg” (The Ark) in the center of Palekh that sells craftworks of local artists including those made by Anna.
Palekh is a small town in the Ivanovo region over 300 km to the north-east of Russian capital Moscow with the population of 5,3 thousand people. Starting from 17th centiry Palekh was famous for its icon-painting traditions and its artists traveled across the whole country to make monumental paintings inside churches. Whith the start of soviet epoque when the orthodox church got oppressed, icon painters turned to lacquer miniature - that way they could maintain the tradition of icon style painting that they had developed over centuries and passed from generation to generation.
During Soviet time artists were government contractors and their financing was abundant. The lion’s part of Palekh lacquer miniatures were produced for export and eventually became one of true symbols of Russian traditional art for the rest of the world. That said, Palekh lacquer miniature is product of soviet era rather than traditional folk craft. In 1954 were founded Artistic Production Workshops where all artists phisically worked. The Workshops were closed in 1990s with the collapse of Soviet Union leaving artists to work on their own or look for employment in neighboring villages.
Nowadays the major economic activity of Palekh residents is producing lacquer miniatures that are usually bought out by local souvenir shops or traders. Many artists are turning back to icon and monumental painting in churches that are in growing demand in Russia.
Local residents enjoy telling tourists that “every other person walking along the street of Palekh is an artist”.