THE ART OF MONINO

THE ART OF AVIA - MONINO PROJECT

When I was young I had a small black and white photo book of Soviet aircraft which I used to endlessly pore over, fascinated by the mysterious and purposeful yet strangely attractive machines. The mystery and awe was enhanced by the secretive and enigmatic nature of the USSR that was largely hidden behind the iron curtain.
    Years later, after gaining a university degree in Industrial Design I went on to run a workshop making things for advertising, film and art, such was my attraction to the form, function and signification of objects. Aircraft to me represent a kind of imaginative engineering artisanship, and aircraft are unquestionably and ardently in the realm of applied art - one of the principle expressions of industrial design.
    Soviet and Russian aircraft in particular embody such a degree of design intent and ambitious engineering born from a conceptually heroic imagination that they seem to transcend the mundane machine world and verge on fine art. Thus like all good sculpture they are evocative of larger concepts when observed and pondered upon. There still remains however something brutally industrial and rudimentary in the construction of these eastern-bloc aircraft and to see one close-up is to be confused by the utilitarian and seemingly roughly wrought construction - 'but surely, this thing cannot fly', you think. These initial impressions however belie the incredible sophistication inherent in the aircraft design - and fly they did indeed.
    The Central Museum of the Russian Air Force at Monino which is situated some 40km from Moscow houses a significant and rare collection of Soviet and Russian aviation history. I've photographed some of these planes before their ultimate restoration.
    Through this series of images I am trying to convey the fierce beauty and aged elegance embodied in the machines. One can sense the history of an empire and the struggle for technical achievement against tremendous odds writ large upon the planes in the remarkable collection at Monino.
    Despite using colour, this series in a way is an homage to a small book of black and white photographs that captivated and inspired a youthful imagination many years ago - an inspiration that has taken me on several adventures exploring the ever-enigmatic land that is Russia.

Also see www.artofavia.com