From Russia - with love

by Big-Jump-Team EN

In October 2014, following a Ryck Jump and River Action Camp, we reached out to organizations, schools and offices in various towns and cities in the common Baltic Sea basin. Students from St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad in Russia, ranging in age from 13-16, already sent us painted and written impressions of their rivers. They testify to the many uses and beauty of rivers around the Baltic Sea, and they are a testimony to a shared, ever changing history. The painter Caspar-David Friedrich, the spiritual patron of the Ryck Jump in summer 2014, would have loved it, because through art - and the Big Jump! - we can explore and represent the relationship between humans and nature, and envisage it in a way that is good for us and for nature.

The river art will be exhibited in the international water conference in Berlin in March (24-27 March 2015) as well as in Brussels at the European Rivers Parliament in July 2015. Here we would like to share some of what was sent to us from our dedicated partners. Take a look!

This description of the Newa is adapted from what was sent to us from the students of Gymnasium 248 of St. Petersburg:

"The Newa is 74 km long. That's a river in Russia which flows from Lake Ladoga and drains into the Baltic Sea. That's where it intersects our city, St. Petersburg. The Newa is 600 m wide and can be up to 24 m deep. It has many tributaries, the most significant of which are the Big Newa and Small Newa. The area is very picturesque. On the shores of the beautiful quay of the river are magnificent palaces of the former nobility.

Previously, floods occurred very often and were dangerous, especially in the 18th century. The water level in the Newa could be up to 321 m higher (in 1777) than today. In particular, the areas of the western part of the city used to get flooded. The floods happened often in the fall and are accompanied by a strong wind from the Baltic Sea. Throughout history there have been 288 floods. They always brought great loss to the city. In 1979, dam construction started to protect the city from floods."

Artists of these works depicting the Newa are (from left to right): Anastasia Mironova, Artjom Kusnerov, and Evfrosinia Vostokova.

Here is a description of the Pregel adapted from what was sent to us by Polina Kotlyarova and Daria Schestopalova from Kaliningrad:

"The Pregel ('Preigara' and 'Preigile' in old Prussian) is a river in Kaliningrad Oblast, the northern part of East Prussia, which now belongs to Russia. It is 123 km long, its headwaters are located near Tschernjachowsk and it drains into the Baltic Sea. The Pregel is between 20 m wide (in Tschernjachowsk) and 80 m wide (in Kaliningrad) and is up to 16 m deep. The watershed area of the Pregel is 15.5 km². The Pregel is the longest river in the Kaliningrad area and is divided into two parallel canals: New Pregel and Old Pregel. 40% of the river is fed by rain, 35% by snow and 25% from groundwater.

The History of the Pregel: The Chronos river mentioned by Ptolomy, was identified with the Pregel. During the Goth period, the Pregel was named Skara. The river was also called 'Lipsa' (Linde River) at different times. The name 'Pregel' first appears in 1302.

Earlier there were some ports in the Kaliningrad area. Hence Kaliningrad was connected to other cities on the Baltic Sea. To date the Pregel is navigable by ship.

Life on the Pregel: Many Kaliningraders go for a walk by the Pregel, or go jogging or fishing. Here by the river is a Museum for World Oceans, where people can visit a ship or submarine. Many festivals take place beside the museum, for example Herring Day. Lots of people visit these events to try the fish, and simply spend some quality time with friends and family."

Artists of the works representing the Pregel (clockwise from upper left to bottom left) are: Zlata Fedorenko, Daria Donova, Daria Schestopalova, Kristina Tarschikova, Viktoria Meibom, Polina Kulokovol

Here is part of the description of the Prochladnaja sent by Arina Oschurkova (who did the painting on the left):

"Originally this river was called the Frisching. The Russian name 'Prochladnaja' was taken basically from the literal translation of the German name into Russian. The river is 77 km long. The Frisching was the biggest river in the Prussian-Eylau district (present-day Bagrationowsk district). The river drains into the Baltic Sea.

Nature: the nature in the northwestern part of East Prussia is beautiful. The landscape is picturesque: beautiful meadows, forests, fields, lakes, small creeks and streams: 'East Prussian Venice'. One can see little ships and boats everywhere, however big ships cannot be found because the river is not navigable for them. As for the ecology, the river is in relatively good condition. The water is not so polluted. This is demonstrated by the numerous fishermen. This area is a paradise for fish: pike, trout, roach, flounder etc."

From Julia Smirnova (who painted the picture on the right) we received a description of the Deima. Here is an excerpt of it:

"The Deima flows through the cities of Gvardeysk and Polessk. It is 37 km long, its source is near Gvardeysk and it drains into the Curonian lagoon of the Baltic Sea. The Deima is a shallow river with an average depth of 3 - 5 m and it has six tributaries. The Deima is navigable by ship.

HIstory of the Deima: Previously, the Deima was known as the Labe. The name 'Deima' comes from the Indo-European root word 'dei zurück', which means 'uninterrupted forward flowing'. In 1395, Konrad von Junginen decided to make a river canal for the Deima. For this goal, a 3.8-mile canal south was dug south of Labiau (present-day Polessk). We can see this new riverbed of the Deima even today. Earlier, the Deima was a ship-navigable river, as it is today.

Life on the Deima: At the riverbanks one can often see anglers because the Deima is rich in fish (e.g. bream and roach). The Deima is not polluted, which is why fish breed here. Unfortunately people don't swim in the Deima, but there are lots of little villages along the river where anyone can go for a walk, take pictures, and fish."

Meanwhile from France (and also with love)

For further information, we would like to point out to you that our partner SOS Loire Vivante in France is organizing a wonderful river art project entitled: "Nager dans la rivière de mes rêves" (Swiming in the river of my dreams).

You can find detailed information here: http://www.sosloirevivante.org/ (or contact our national contact person for France, Lucy Galland). You can let yourself be inspired by the story of salmon Romeo in the Loire here: http://vimeo.com/97455424. And you can already enjoy some pictures of the French River Art here (©SOS Loire Vivante - ERN France):

Though we didn't get a chance to display all the beautiful art sent to us in this short post, we thank the many youth who have taken the time to give us impressions of their rivers! A big thanks to the following students: Kaliningrad - Julia Smirnova, Vladislava Sakharenkova, Iwan Protasevitsch, Nikita Zhukov, Sofya Zeyfert, Polina Kotylarova, Pavel Kozelkov, Galing Schanko, Kristina Tarschikova, Zlata Fedorenko, Daria Donova, Viktoria Meibom, Daria Schestopalova, Polina Kulokovol, and Arina Oschurkova. St. Petersburg: Artjom Kusnerov, Anastasia Mironova, and Evfrosinia Vostokova. Thank you also to the Goethe Institute for its help with the River Action Camp and the River Art Exchange. And finally, thank you to the group from Lithuania for sending the photography of your group and its paintings.

We are looking forward to exhibiting the watercolours in Berlin and Brussels and receiving further paintings from other painters!

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Toll Ich bin so begeistert. Einfach beeindruckend. Das freut mich so. Herzliche Grüsse Kerstin

- Kerstin Polzin |