My journal starts at the beginning: Leningrad, currently St. Petersburg. I was born and raised in this wonderful city. I use that word loosely, first being sarcastic, because I lived under the Soviet Rule. Secondly, as truthful, because this city is my hometown. From sarcastic to truly wonderful, this city has had many reiterations, including its name: from St. Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad, and then back to St. Petersburg.
Another reiteration of this great city is the artistic style. St. Petersburg was built combining Dutch, Danish, and Swedish architecture as a Window to Europe. The French influence swept through the city in the mid 19th century and after World War II, the city was rebuilt in a modern artistic style.
Because St. Petersburg is full of architectural gems, it is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Living in the cultural capital of Russia, my father and I visited The Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world, The Historic Centre of St. Petersburg, and countless monuments and sculptures. I have many vivid and truly wonderful memories of my father introducing me to the art scene in St. Petersburg. From a very young age I accompanied him to as many cultural institutions as I could, soaking in all of the wonderful architecture and artistic scenery.
I remember him giving me a three hour lecture on one particular painting. He explained the history of the artist and the significance of the painting. Instead of ending the conversation, he asked me what I had just learned. Because of these tests after every museums and art exhibition visit, I developed my own view on art, history, politics, and the world around me.
Growing up, I experienced the Soviet Reign. I quickly learned that there was no freedom of expression without consequences. I wanted to create for myself. I absorbed as much culture as I could from my father, and I left this wonderful city at the age of 18 and was free.
My Russian roots influence my creativity and I am free to express these ideals in our work here at Kristina Valdmaa Designs. We’ll go next to Petergof – a series of palaces and gardens sometimes called “Russian Versailles”.