What happens when you come across someone named Sergey in Far East Russia who is one part artist and one part sailor?
You end up having an encounter that is a little bit odd and a lot interesting.
Sergey’s House isn’t exactly an easy place to get to.
He lives on Bering Island, which is part of the Commander Islands off the coast of eastern Russia. Now, even if you do find yourself wandering around this remote Russian island, you’re not guaranteed that Sergey will be home, and if he isn’t home – you don’t visit his house.
So who is this Sergey and why is he so oddly interesting?
The oddity simply comes from the environment. Sergey lives in the only settlement of these islands. He’s had to adapt to the environment as he has grown older. Somewhat charismatic – if you understand Russian – his unique character comes out in his artwork which is scattered all throughout his home, which is also his workshop. Paintings are his main passion, yet sculptures from the spoils of the land are dotted throughout his cabin of a home as well. What he takes pleasure in, and has a passion for, may come across as different – but somehow he found a way to have a vibrant life in a very inhospitable landscape.
He has a catty confidence, that keeps you on your toes, whether he’s showing you a piece of artwork he is painting or sitting beside his wood burning stove, enjoying a bit of drink and fish. After spending a bit of time in his home and learning a bit about him, I decided he had a kind of Keyser Söze legend to him, which is why you won’t find any photos of him here.
Outside his home, the cold near-Arctic waters of eastern Russia are only a short walk away. There was a time, when he was younger, that Sergey sailed his own boat across the Commander Islands and Aleutian Islands over to Alaska. He did this trip solo, more than once. This element of adventure is still apparent in his paintings and workshop, even though his adventuring days are over.
Sergey’s House, like the entire Bering Island, feels like a living museum. It’s a welcoming, yet harsh place. Dreary landscapes dotted with specks of vibrant colours. Remote Russia at it’s greatest, a place that seems stuck in time, yet somehow carries on.