On the first day of April 2012, just after April Fools’ Day ended as it does at noon, after I had been retired from the world of jobs for a dozen years, I was able to develop my study of Russia. I had taken an interest in Russia from the 1960s while at university and had even applied for a job there in my first years as a teacher sometime around 1970, before serving as an international pioneer instead---in Australia for the Canadian Baha’i community. Inevitably, in my role as a student or as a teacher, of history and sociology, literature and psychology, some aspect of Russia came into the curricula over that half-century from, say 1955 to 2005.

On 1 April, a Sunday afternoon, I chanced to watch a BBC Four program entitled The Art of Russia.(1) This series on Russian art was first shown on the BBC in December 2009. Andrew Michael Graham-Dixon(1960--), the British art historian was the presenter. He has been the chief art critic of The Independent newspaper where he remained until 1998 and, as of 2005, has been the chief art critic of The Sunday Telegraph. -Ron Price with thanks to(1)ABC1TV, 3:00-3:55 p.m. 1 April 2012.

Your roots of art were in Byzantium1
and your story, like so many stories,
is a long one….Thank you, Michael,
for your TV work since ’92, when I
was beginning to eye my retirement
from more than fifty years of jobs &
student life so that I could spend my
life in places other than classrooms!!

It is programs like this that now enrich
these evening years, these years of late
adulthood(60-80) and old age(80+), if
I last that long. My classroom is now the
world which pours into my study---daily.
I had three children, too, Michael…...but
I don’t live in London…..rather…..at the
ends of the earth in Tasmania…...the last
stop on the way to Antarctica…….if you
take the western-Pacific rim-route……..I
thank you for that incredible story of the
art of Russian: mystery & magnificence!

1Very few students in our modern world have any idea where and what Byzantium was. Like so much of knowledge, this field of history and art will not help students negotiate the mine-fields of marriage and jobs, the many tests that come their way from cradle to grave. They will survive without ever knowing anything about Byzantium.

It was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 657 BC and named after their king Byzas. The city was later renamed Nova Roma by Constantine the Great, but popularly called Constantinople and briefly became the imperial residence of the classical Roman Empire.

Subsequently, the city was---for more than a thousand years---the capital of the Byzantine Empire, the Greek-speaking Roman Empire of late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Constantinople was captured by the Ottoman Turks becoming the capital of their empire, in 1453. The name of the city was officially changed to Istanbul in 1930 following the establishment of modern Turkey.

Ron Price
30 April 2012.