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Awards Ceremony for the Winners of the 6th International Competition for a New Year Tree Decoration: Create an Exhibit for the Hermitage

Published 22 December 2022

On 21 December 2022, the Hermitage Theatre was the venue for the formal awards ceremony honouring the winners of the 6th international competition for original New Year tree decorations “Create an Exhibit for the Hermitage”, organized by the State Hermitage and the Aira technopark.

The theme of the competition in 2022 was “Cherishing Traditions”, with entrants being invited to create tree decorations that introduce people to the traditions of various peoples or pleasant family traditions. More than 2,000 creations were sent to Saint Petersburg from all around the world.

Opening the awards ceremony, Mikhail Piotrovsky, General Director of the State Hermitage and chairman of the competition’s jury of experts, said: “This event fits into the general run of Hermitage activities at the end of the year. We cherish traditions in all their diversity. We have just opened an exhibition about ancient [Volga] Bulgaria, the day before one about ancient Alania. Two days from now, we will open an exhibition devoted to the Art Nouveau style. And this wonderful competition is presented within that context.” The Director announced the winner in the special Grand Prix category for 2022. It was awarded to Vitaly Plavshich of Kaliningrad for a work entitled “Olivier Salad Tree Decoration”. Mikhail Piotrovsky noted a fascinating coincidence – the inventor of the much-loved salad, Lucien Olivier, was the managing director of the Hermitage hotel and restaurant on Trubnaya Square in Moscow.

“This year more than 2,000 decorations were submitted for the jury’s judgement,” Yury Berestov, patron of the arts, head of the Aira technopark and co-organizer of the competition, announced. “There were entries from China, the UK, Germany, the USA, Turkey, Moldova, Armenia, North Macedonia and Israel. First to arrive were decorations from Pakistan, Fiji, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ecuador… The most entries, though, came from Saint Petersburg. The youngest participant was just 2 years old, the most senior 85. The competition was open to everyone, irrespective of their profession or occupation.”

The original tree decorations submitted by the participants in 2022 were judged in two age groups: up to 15 inclusive, and 16 and over.

In the category “Best Original New Year Tree Decoration among Entrants 16 and Over”, first place went to Irina Deriabina from the Crimean village of Stroganovo for her work “By the Samovar”, Second place was awarded to “Grandfather Frost and the Snow Maiden” by Anna Kudina from the town of Dolgoprudny in Moscow Region. Third place was taken by “Northern Beauty”, the creation of Sbetlana Rykhta from the town of Tarko-Sale.

First place in the category “Best Original New Year Tree Decoration among Entrants Aged up to 15” went to Aliona Smirnova (11) from Saint Petersburg and her work “Russian Teddy”. Second place also went to a bear, but with a liking for winter sports  – “Teddy on Skis” created by Liubov Chinchenko (8) from the Cossack village of Maryanskaya in the Krasnodar Territory. Third place was awarded to an “Uzbek National Decoration” made by 7-year-old Naili from Tashkent.

The People’s Choice Award, presented with the support of the Imperial Porcelain Factory joint-stock company, went to Ulyana Kolishchak from Svetogorsk for her creation “Firebird”.

Further awards were presented in a couple of special categories. In the special category from the museum for the best Hermitage Cat, the prize went to Yevgenia Agafonova from the town of Novoshakhtinsk for her decoration entitled “Guardian of the Hermitage’s Treasures”, while the prize from the Imperial Porcelain Factory for an inventive use of its brand was given to 9-year-old Varvara Chernykh for her “Tea-Drinking Traditions”.

All the finalists received valuable prizes and gifts as well as the opportunity to take personal guided tours of the Hermitage.

The awards ceremony continued with the premiere of a revamped version of a suite from Marius Petipa’s ballet Les Ruses d’Amour featuring soloists from the Mariinsky Theatre, the Yakobson Ballet Theatre and dancers from Saint Petersburg accompanied by the Olympic Orchestra (artistic director Alexei Stepanov, conductor Alexander Golikov). Petipa created the one-act chamber ballet to music by Alexander Glazunov specially for the Hermitage Theatre in 1900 in the style of the French Rococo. The present version of the choreography was devised by the ballet master Evelina Grzhebovskaya. The costumes and scenery were recreated from the surviving drawings of Ivan Vsevolozhsky.

The compere for the event in the Hermitage Theatre was the journalist Alexander Malich.

The ceremony was filmed by the Saint Petersburg TV channel and a recording is available for viewing here.

This is the sixth time that the Create an Exhibit for the Hermitage competition has been held in the museum. More than 200 works, chosen from among the entries, were used to decorate the trees in the Foyer of the Hermitage Theatre, where any visitor to the Main Museum Complex can view them during the New Year holidays. The winning entries from previous years can be seen on the World Tree that was set up for the first time this year in the Atrium of the General Staff building.