The hallmark of our workshop is genuine hand work. We do not use any copying equipment. In this way we want to preserve the live and unique beauty of Church art. An icon or crucifix are created with the artist’s hands; one needs also to be prayerful as well as giving time and having energy and ideas. Thank God, we have all these things!
About Hermann Sunait
Hermann Sunait was born in Donetsk, Ukraine. As a child, his first encounter with monastic life was near Optina Pustyn, where his family took part in the restoration of the monastery.
His father was a woodcarver and made wooden crosses for the monastery. It was there that Hermann showed his first interest in art, which expresses in its various forms the inner life of a person as well as of the whole people.
In 2001 the family moved to Vyritsa near St Petersburg. This was in accordance with the blessing of Elder Zosima (Sokur) (1944-2002), for whom Sergy, Hermann’s father, made many woodcarvings, including his tomb, which also was at the wish of the Elder.
In 2005 Hermann graduated with honours from St Petersburg’s Professional School of Restoration, where he was taught restoration, woodcarving, and joinery. He worked then in the restoration workshop at the Ecaterininsky Palace in Tsarskoe Selo. The workshop was founded by the famous restorer Alexey Kochuev. Hermann started working independently from 2009.
In 2011 Hermann was invited to Oxford, UK, where he accomplished some work for the porch of St Nicholas Orthodox Church (34 Ferry Road Oxford OX3 0EU).
In 2014 Hermann graduated from St Petersburg Institute of Theology and Philosophy. He has published a number of academic and journalistic articles.
Hermann’s works are found in different churches in St Petersburg, Vyritsa, Tsarskoe Selo as well as in private collections in Britain and on Mount Athos.
In 1990, when he got deeper involved in the life of the Church, he came to Optina Pustyn. It was there that he discovered for himself the Church woodcarving. At the same time he started visiting Schema-Archimandrite Zosima (Sokur). Sergy accomplished many works for the monastery founded by the Elder Zosima.
The works by Sergy are kept not only in Russia and Ukraine, but also in Germany, Sweden, UK, and Israel.
Today, in the age of digital technology, man has been displaced by machines and computers, and things which surround us have lost their mark of personhood. We are lost among the objects of mass production. Each mug, each frame, or piece of furniture in our houses uniformly repeat many other things made with the same equipment. The lines become laser straight, which cannot be achieved by human hands. Human hands cannot make those straight and ideal lines which can be produced only by computer or copying machines. However, it is precisely this human ‘imperfection’ which makes each hand-made object unique.
Computers and machines make something which is unachievable by man. It might seem that we have gained something by that, – we have learned how to produce quickly, with “quality” and in big quantities. At the same time, we have lost something important. Man has replaced craftsmanship with industrialised mass production and beauty with utility.
‘Beauty will save the world’. What is behind these words? Beauty and harmony are not just a supplement to an object, not ‘additional service’. On the contrary, this is what allows for the object to speak with one’s personality. Beauty is a feature, which deprives the object of randomness. That is why the creators of genuine and great beauty are called immortal, Not just because the great artists created something which is impossible to forget and which belongs to the heritage of world culture, but also because beauty, form and harmony are the features of life.
That is why the more that genuine beauty, personal effort and labour are in the object, the more it contains life.
In our work we use special handmade cutters and chisels. Handmade instruments are a very important moment in the work of each woodcarver. The quality of the work largely depends on the quality and sharpening of the instruments.
It is also extremely important for the iconographer to keep to the iconographic canon.
Although the woodcarver does not work with paints and colours, the overall composition as well as each figure and movement have their own meaning and sense. That is why we work carefully on the details of each icon.