Dreaming of Vladimir.

Sometime probably around 2010, a group of notable Russians put on their kokoshniks and formed a thinktank to decide where next to send the “Faberge: Legacy of Imperial Russia” collection, an exhibit containing incomparable jewellery, relics and – the glittering crown – four fabled Imperial Eggs.




Just when it looked like all hope was lost of reaching consensus, SUDDENLY:

Well, what ABOUT Shatin?  Is this a world cultural centre?  At first blush, no, nothing is more certain than that it is not.  Flanking the Shing Mun River, for which the most that can be said is…it’s a river, its most prestigious building is the Regal Hotel.  Its greatest cultural offerings are New Town Plaza and IKEA, famous for that one time a gweilo got locked in the disabled toilet.

At second blush – no, I still don’t get it.

I will never understand why whoever is in charge of these things made the inexplicable decision to send the Faberge collection to Shatin, but I offer them my most heartfelt Nasdarovie.  I am passionately obsessed with royal history, especially in re the jewels of the ill-fated Romanovs, and it’s been my dream to see a Faberge Egg one day.  Never did I imagine I’d get to see four of them in Hong Kong.  Nasdarovie!

For a final touch of complete lack of culture, the exhibit was co-managed by Hong Kong’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the dickheads who “run” the beaches here.  Visit a beach here and make a sandcastle – as soon as you leave, a yellow-shirted LCSD person will kick it down and immediately smooth the space with a tennis-court roller.  There are LCSD people sweeping the sand.  Every 15 minutes, a trilingual announcement is played:  “Welcome to this Leisure and Cultural Services facility.  Please don’t swim if you feel tired, have recently eaten, are hungry, if it’s too cold, or if you can’t swim.”

Naturally these were the guys best suited for taking charge of the Faberge exhibit.  They fulfilled their role admirably, stuffing the hall with 60-year-old ladies wearing surgical masks who snoozed up against reliquaries of priceless artifacts until someone dared even considering taking a photo, at which point they leapt up, waggling their fingers reflexively.  Nothing brings out the rage of the berserker in me like when an LCSD lady waggles her finger at me, but just this once, I could see through the red mist.  Because I was looking at these.

    Images straight-up directly nicked from the exhibition website.
Who’s making a finger gesture at who now, motherfuckers!

This was the most poignant one – the unfinished “Constellation” egg, with the signs of the zodiac engraved on.  The stars were to be marked with diamonds, and there are empty holes cut for the purpose.  The focus of the egg is Leo, because Alexei Nikolaevich, the last Tsarevich, was a Leo.

I cried when I saw the eggs and I cried all the way home in the car.  This was a very special moment for me.  Thank you, Vladimir.  You are wonderful president.

 

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “Dreaming of Vladimir.

  1. Karen M

    You are such an amazing writer, can’t wait for another installment of your experience in Hong Kong. Wonder if you have seen the documentary, Kiss of Putin.

  2. Rhi

    Oh you lucky thing! They’re beautiful.
    Having worked a lot in travelling exhibitions, I bet one of the Russian organisers just wanted a holiday in Hong Kong and had some family to visit there or something ;)
    I loved Russian history at school. Wanted to call our kid Anastasia but got shot down by the husband :(
    You write so well Jade, I love your posts. Truly!

    • Rhi, it was amazing! Have you seen any of them? Truly, I dream for me. I just couldn’t believe it. I also loved the other stuff, the jewellery and the coronation clothes etc. But the eggs *sigh*
      I was looking at the glass vases and wondering if people literally sit with them on their laps on the flights. I mean honestly how could you ever pack something so precious securely enough? How do they pack this stuff? Who insures it?

      • Rhi

        Ahhh, packing stuff…. that was my life for a long time. It’s a skill. You basically carve out hard foamy stuff in the shape of half your object, line it with soft padding, then cover it with a silk-like fabric. Do the same for the other half, which becomes the lid, and hope the two halves fit properly together ;) Sometimes they go in carry-on luggage, but mostly in shock resistant crates, with a courier (conservator) on hand at each and every move/transit stop directing the forklift drivers and having heart palpitations.
        No-one insures things like that (really, what money could replace them?) – they would be part of an indemnified exhibition, and only certain venues reach the indemnification criteria – all to do with environmental controls, light levels, security protocols, gas emission levels, disaster preparedness plans etc.
        It’s all pretty stressy behind the scenes.
        I can’t look at Museum displays anymore, I end up ignoring the objects and looking instead at the mounting system, the lights, and the hygrometers hiding in the corners of the room ;)

  3. I used to just sit and stare at the eggs that sat in my grandma’s special china closet. Such a good story!

    • Everyone’s nan has a special china or crystal cabinet, don’t they! I won’t have one when I’m a nan, probably, I’m too clumsy. But I like my nan’s too :)

      • Rhi

        My Gran had one, absolutely. I LOVED it! They had travelled a lot in their life.. When she moved and downsized I got her brass Eiffel Tower statue, and, more interestingly, a lump of dried larva said to be a ‘cake’ recovered from Pompeii!

  4. Wayne Furlong

    Is wonderful, Jade. Speciman.

    Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2013 14:14:12 +0000 To: waynefur@hotmail.com

  5. Ha! I was there over Easter. Those LCSD ladies watched my 6 and 2 year olds circle the gallery in pained horror and gasped when one of them pressed their nose against the glass display case!

    • Yeah, I can’t faced the wrath of the LCSD when I have my kids with me. So I went on my own. Nobody needs to see their mum delivering loud proclamations about freedom to innocent old ladies. It’s psychologically damaging or something.

  6. This cracked me up. You had me rolling with the beach paragraph and then the ladies monitoring the eggs. They look quite spectacular and hope they don’t come after you with their masks for using images without permission. Ha.

    • It’s so funny, it couldn’t possibly be true, right? BUT IT IS! The first time I saw someone sweeping the beach with a bamboo broom, I was also rolling. Oh they’ll come after me. In 2053 when they get computers in their tearoom. I’ll be ready for them.

  7. Wowsa, kicking down sand castles belongs in a special realm of douchery. I laughed at this so much!
    But then, those eggs…sigh. I would’ve wet my pants at the prospect of seeing them in person.

    • Natalie! Yay! There aren’t too many people who would also wet themselves at the prospect of seeing the eggs! It was just magical. What a moment. Thanks for sharing in the delight. Thanks also for using “special realm of douchery” – the ultimate apt description for every activity undertaken by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

  8. zoe

    Although not much of a Vlad fan I do think the eggs are beautiful. Nice piece of writing.

  9. That trilingual announcement every 15 minutes would have me going nuts. I’m so glad you got to realize a dream and see those Faberge eggs. Even in the photos they look beautiful, in person must have been something.

  10. I love this post! New reader from Yeah Write. The eggs are beautiful and I’m so glad you got to see them. Glad also that you shared.

  11. I remember almost nothing from my childhood, but I do remember learning about Feberge eggs, and obsessing over them for a time. So delicate and illogical, kind of an unreasonable homage to beauty. Very cool that you got to see them and , yes, totally bizarre that they ended up where they did. But nice anyway for you!! (btw – loved your description of the LCSD!)

  12. Those are some pretty amazing eggs!

  13. This was hilariously awesome. And I. love. those. eggs. Faberege eggs had never even crossed my mind until this post but now I really want to see one.

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