Pookh

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This is not about art or textiles, which are supposed to be the themes of my blog – unless I stretch the point by saying that the word ‘pookh’ (пух in Russian) can be translated as the nap or pile of a fabric. It’s more commonly used to describe the white stuff floating through the air and collecting on the ground in great fluffy swathes, blown from the balsam poplars which are found in huge numbers in Russian cities. This article from ‘Russia Beyond the Headlines‘ explains the phenomenon, which typically occurs in June and lasts for several weeks.

I vividly remember standing and gazing for some time at what looked like snow falling in a little park near our Moscow flat. I thought about making some textile work in response to its beauty and strangeness, but didn’t get any further than this little collage of a pookh-lined puddle and some actual (now 32-year-old!) pookh stuck in my sketchbook. I also wrote this – “June: astonishing storms of ‘snow’ – known as POOKH in Russian – fluff from the balsam poplar flying through the summer air on windy days – collecting in drifts around trunks and grasses.  Strange juxtaposition of vigorous green growth and ‘snow’. Lumps of it trapped on top of hedges and in all types of trees.  Most powerful image – walking through the park in Ukrainskiy Bulvar with clouds of snow drifting gently and steadily through luxuriant trees. The ‘snow’ remained on the ground after a rainstorm in soggy lumps. After showers, when the sun came out, all over the pavements would be small puddles with fluff caught neatly round the very edge of the water like a soft feathery frame.”

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