Nadia Ryzhakova


Meet Mr Bolt

Do you still remember the giant hare, the picture of which I posted recently on Facebook and Instagram? It is time to reveal in details, what that spooky huge hare was doing in our house.

I spent all March working on one of the Cirencester March Hare Festival’s five-foot hares. The sponsor of my hare is Cricklade Leisure Centre (Cricklade, UK), which you can visit if you follow the Cotswold Hare Trail 2017

I had a wonderful meeting with the director of Cricklade Leisure Centre, Mr Gary Walker, and their designer, Alison Fisher, to discuss the artist brief around sport, and ‘heritage’ that is the theme of this year’s trail. The hare features famous Cricklade’s landmarks: the Jubilee clock erected in 1898 in honour of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, historical St Sampson’s church dating back to the 12th century, and North Meadow that preserves some 80% of Britain’s Wild Snake’s Head Fritillaries.

There are also three groups of people present in the hare’s composition.

The group of runners is the most important one as it has the key to the name that I gave to the hare – Bolt. First of all, Bolt is the name of the renowned, one of the world fastest runners, Usain Bolt you can see him with his charismatic smile as the leader of the group of runners. Secondly, the word ‘bolt’ means to run away, to spring forward, and also a lightning. That is to reflect how fast hares run. By the way, did you know that there is the annual Cricklade Fun Run, which is held in the first Sunday of October and raises funds for local charities?

The second scene is the illustration of a swimming pool – elderly people doing their aquatic workout and a very fit swimmer jumping off a diving board.

Finally, the third scene shows children playing a ball game in the park.

All in all, I painted people of all ages, of both genders, and of different physical abilities, as Cricklade Leisure Centre welcomes all members of the community. I was deeply touched by the story of the Leisure Center that was saved from closing by Cricklade residents. In the end of 2006, North Wiltshire District Council tried to close the leisure centre. After a campaign, local residents took over the running of the centre and were successful in turning its declining fortunes around. It now has a swimming pool, squash courts, sports hall, climbing wall, bar and lounge area with balcony and barbecue, skate park, and play areas for children.

I have spent about two weeks trying to work out the design of the hare in flat profiles. I must confess, I failed. When I began working on the actual 3D sculpture, everything that I sketched on paper seemed completely out of place. So I put my primarily drawings aside and attacked the hare with the pencil and my ideas in the head. I then felt much more comfortable as I used to be a mural painter and I take large painting like a duck to water.

The hare shows some of many more sport activities provided by Cricklade Leisure Centre for the community. It was a real feat for me to complete the painting over one month as I have a “full-time-job” to look after my dearest 9-month-old daughter Sophia. I could not have dealt with the challenge successfully without my husband’s support and our wonderful nanny Karolina. I can’t thank these two enough for their help with little Sophia.

The hare is now installed at Cricklade Leisure Centre and is greeting the visitors at the entrance. It is waiting to be auctioned in October this year in the aid of the National Star College in Cheltemham, UK, that provides specialist education for people with disabilities and brain injuries.

Very soon I will be able to show you a time-lapse video of the whole process of creation.