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90-Year-Old Watchman Turns Russian School into a Veritable Art Gallery

After 25 years of teaching art at several schools, Valery Khramov finally retired from his job, but not from art. The 90-year-old spent the entire summer painting the walls at the school where he currently works as a watchman. He singlehandedly managed to transform the boring institution into an ethereal space, just in time for the new academic year.

“I spent the last three months at school,” Valery told the local media. “All I did was paint and draw. It has been 10 days since I slept – it was necessary to have time to finish everything for the new academic year.” And now that the kids are back in school, they’re absolutely thrilled with the new decor. In fact, first graders are actually being taken on tours of the ‘gallery’. What a fantastic way to beat back-to-school blues!

Photo: Anton Basanaev/E1.ru

According to Valery, the paintings on each of the school’s three floors follow a different theme. The first floor, dedicated to seasons, is meant to teach students how to protect nature. The paintings capture natural scenes – like a mother bear catching fish to feed its cubs. They also depict the interaction between humans and nature – like a forest ranger monitoring the cleanliness and safety of the forest.

Photo: Anton Basanaev/E1.ru

The theme on the second floor is geography – there are paintings of the earth’s various regions right from the Arctic Ocean to the tropics. Valery has also painted marine fauna in vivid colors on one section of the floor. The idea, he says, is to have students travel the world without having to leave the school. “Everything is thought out, you have no idea how long it took me to create a world of colors,” he said.

Photo: Anton Basanaev/E1.ru

In the elementary section, Valery painted fairy tale characters and also the Siberian highway. And another section of the school contains references to world architecture – right from the Egyptian pyramids to the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, and St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Photo: Anton Basanaev/E1.ru

Valery, who has been painting since childhood, was only 16 years old when he first painted episodes of the Soviet-Finnish war on the walls of a two-bedroom apartment. But when he finished school, he decided to train to become a pilot instead of studying art. Life had other plans for him though – he suffered an injury that left him incapable of flying, and ended up going to art school after all. Since then, he’s been painting freehand on walls – he never makes any plans or sketches before he starts.

Photo: Anton Basanaev/E1.ru

The school is his greatest project yet, because he thinks it is important for children to develop love for art and nature. “I did all this work to educate children with a sense of beauty,” he said. “To have a desire to read a book, go to the museum, the theater, go to the countryside or play sports.” So he’s ready to go paint at any school, if invited.

Photo: Anton Basanaev/E1.ru

Photo: Anton Basanaev/E1.ru

Photo: Tatyana Sokolova/Oblgazeta.ru

Photo: Tatyana Sokolova/Oblgazeta.ru

Photo: Tatyana Sokolova/Oblgazeta.ru

Photo: Tatyana Sokolova/Oblgazeta.ru

Sources: E1.ru, Oblgazeta.ru

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