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by Kathleen Menéndez

Pyrography News From Around the World

Newsletter No. 34, Page One of Three


Page One:
Julia Surba: New Works from Ancient Kuzhebar

Page Two:
PFC Camilo González: Wartime Folk Art
Nancy Boitos: Large Rustic Furniture Projects
DeAnn Cote of DRC Designs: Hello, Hitty!

Page Three:
Faux Pyrography
Mystery Corner: Who Is the Artist
Who Did "The Last Stagecoach"?

Julia Surba: New Works from Ancient Kuzhebar

Russian-Tuvinian Karma Knot
by Julia Surba

Pyroengraving and carving on spruce wood panel of irregular shape

Image courtesy of the artist

Exploring the World

Born in 1973, Russian artist Julia Surba is a young woman who has 'done a lot of homework' before she got to the elaborate and intensely pyroengraved works you see here.

After completing her studies in foreign languages and world art history, she began working as a translator. And simultaneously with that, as she describes it, she "fulfilled all the usual societal obligations of getting a prestigious job, a husband, an apartment, a car, etc."

Yet after all of these good things, Julia came to feel that something was missing from her life, and she began a most unusual search for an alternative society.

A Quest That Leads to Siberia!

At first, Julia says, her search for "another reality" was oriented outside herself. She began visiting many eco-communities, including ZEGG and Sieben Linden in Germany, Damanhur in Italy, and finally the Vissarion community in Siberia, Russia. It was in Siberia where she stayed the longest. According to Julia, being there brought big changes in her vision of the world, and allowed her to look within herself and find there the power to create her own reality--not only in her "everyday life" but also in her art.

Inspired by Ur and Aboriginal art, Julia developed her own distinct technique of pyrography where the background is pyroengraving with elements of carving and painting in the foreground. Her works depict reality in the traditional style of Ancient Kuzhebar.

Julia Surba at Work

CD Stand, two views: above and left
by Julia Surba

Pyroengraving on wood

Images courtesy of the artist

Pyrography Enters Julia's World Picture

When it comes to pyrography, Julia describes herself as a newlywed still on her honeymoon.

Julia was already a designer when one day--only a year ago!--she had an idea to make a stand for CDs in an unusual style. She wanted it to be a "mirror of the reality [she was living in] at the moment." And she knew that she needed a pyrography tool to accomplish her idea.

Like most everybody, Julia knew of pyro tools from her childhood. However, at that moment in her reality, as it turned out, finding a pyrography tool loomed as a very large hurdle. Julia was living in a remote taiga eco-village--remote by her definition being "a 2-hour bus trip to the nearest internet cafe." She was sure that nobody there would know anything about pyrography. In a stroke of unbelievable good luck, Julia found the pyro tool she needed thanks to a friend--a painter whose parents had bought one for him many years before, when he was a child.

Above and left are two views of her remarkable CD stand--Julia's first project created with her newfound pyroengraving technique. On it she has a flowing series of what she terms pyrograms because, in effect, they are hieroglyphs in pyrography--pictorial messages telling about the culture and beliefs of the Ancient Kuzhebarans.

Legends of Ancient Kuzhebar
Ritual pyrogram, after an ancient hieroglyph thought to be from 3100 B.C.
by Julia Surba

Pyroengraving on Siberian cedar wood in irregular shape

Image courtesy of the artist

Pyro Tools

The brand name had already disappeared from Julia's first tool, the one she borrowed from her friend. Judging by the CD stand, it worked perfectly well despite being three decades old! Julia later bought an Uzor tool in a children's shop in Russia. Her latest work was done with a new tool--the Brenn Peter Mini--which she bought in the biggest hobby shop in Berlin when she was there. She notes that this last one is the best.

The Structure of Human Anima According to Ancient Kuzhebar Ideology
Ritual pyrogram, after an ancient keystone estimated at 3080 B.C.
by Julia Surba

Pyroengraving on wood

Image courtesy of the artist

The Story of Ancient Kuzhebar

"Old Siberian tales say that long ago near the Sayan Mountains there existed a civilization, which was the birthplace of the present South Siberian ethnic groups. This early civilization was given the name Ancient Kuzhebar because the first artefacts were found in the Siberian village Nizhny Kuzhebar (Krasnoyarsk Region)."

With Structure of Human Anima... (above), Julia offers her pyrographic interpretation of the keystone of the Kuzhebaran culture that has her so intrigued.

Following below, for reference, is the keystone diagram of the structure of human anima (presumably deciphered by scholars from the hieroglyphs of an artefact belonging to the Ancient Kuzhebarans?).

The Structure of Human Anima According to Ancient Kuzhebar Ideology, diagram

Image courtesy of Julia Surba and the website of V. Nadishana:

A Good Laugh

"The Ancient Kuzhebar culture was steeped in the use of the Laugh. In Ancient Kuzhebar, Humor and the Laugh were considered to be the most serious spiritual and psychic-energetic practice. One of their practices was called 'The Yoga of Laughter'. Unlike in our culture, in Ancient Kuzhebar, laughter was not the antithesis of seriousness, but rather part of it. There was even a separate caste 'the monks of Laughter'."

Julia forwarded the above quotes from the website, where her work is shown, belonging to Vladiswar Nadishana, Dean of the Sound Microsurgery Department in Russia. Look for links with Nadishana or Ancient Kuzhebar.

Jew's Harp Rack
by Julia Surba

Pyroengraving on cucurbit wood panel

Image courtesy of the artist

A Personal Touch

Above, a charming board done by Julia to hang a colorful collection of Jews' Harps.

World-Picture of Ancient Kuzhebar Aborigines, detail
by Julia Surba

Pyroengraving on Siberian cedar wood

Image courtesy of the artist

Up Close

Details of Julia's amazing pyroengraving technique are shown above in a close-up image of a work entitled World-Picture of Ancient Kuzhebar Aborigines. She learned pyrography by herself in Siberia and says she is "still in this endless and thrilling process."

Besides drawing inspiration from the Aborigines' art, Julia also finds ideas in her "own unusual-usual daily life," which she tries to depict by means of her pyrograms in the way the Ancient Kuzhebarans did.

In the World-Picture image above, you can appreciate the varied depths of the pyroengraving and the intricacy and flow of her hieroglyphic pyrograms. Notice, also, a lot of happy, laughing faces throughout, and the rich layering and texturing Julia achieves with her pyroengraving, all the while weaving elaborate paths that resemble a mysterious ancient treasure map.

World-Picture of Ancient Kuzhebar Aborigines
by Julia Surba

Pyroengraving on Siberian cedar wood

Image courtesy of the artist


Many of the parts for this piece on Julia Surba's works were either adapted or quoted from a larger website--www.nadishana.nm.ru--that features not only her bio and works, but also the multi-element music of Vladiswar Nadishana and the culture of Ancient Khuzebar.

See also examples of her works highlighted in the Julia Surba Salon in the E-Museum of Pyrographic Art.

Symbol by Julia Surba

Click here to go to page two >>>

2005, Kathleen M. Garvey Menéndez, all rights reserved.