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You can find the creative works of many different people, including written assignments, photography, and visual art.

The site encourages visitors to submit their works of art, historical documents, and stories for publication.

Gjest Baardsen

In his own time, Gjest Baardsen was known as the “master thief,” the “king of escape,” or, in his own words, “Norway’s most famous and dangerous criminal.”

Born in 1791, Baardsen was jailed for the first time in his early twenties for burglary and sentenced to two years in the workhouse. It took him fifteen years to escape from the vicious ring of burglaries, arrests, imprisonment and escapes (57 in all!) in which he soon became enmeshed. It seems likely that he gradually became aware that complete freedom and a new life beyond bars could only be had by serving his sentence out.

In the winter of 1826, while he was under arrest and awaiting sentencing from the Supreme Court, he started work on his autobiographical novel, “Gjest Baardsen: My Life”, and continued writing when he was moved to Akershus Fortress in Oslo. His new life as a writer has opened up a new world of possibilities for him. It gave meaning to his life within the prison walls and was probably a decisive factor in his battle to serve the eighteen years of his sentence at Akershus.

It took Baardsen almost ten years to finish his autobiography. Published in 1835, it was the first autobiographical novel to appear in Norway and was widely read, with numerous editions appearing over the last two centuries.

Gjest Baardsen’s poems were written in Dano-Norwegian, which I have translated into English (see the book on this website).

Russian folk tales illustrated by children’s paintings

Title of the book posted on the website: “RUSSIAN FOLK TALES: Retold by Ian Harkness; Illustrations by the students of Murmansk Art School for Children.”

The folk tales are based on A.N.Afanasyev’s collection.

Murmansk Art College for Children

At the end of the twentieth century, I visited Murmansk in North West Russia on several occasions when teaching English at Finnmark University College in Northern Norway. Friends told me about the particular type of art colleges for children in Russia. I had also heard that the pupils and the teachers at the Children’s Art College in Murmansk were incredibly gifted. I had seen evidence of this in a book of Russian folk tales published in Norway, “Ivan tsarevitch on den grå Ulven,” illustrated by the pupils of the college.

With the idea of producing a similar book in English, I decided to visit the college and was kindly shown around the different departments by the principal, V.K Chebotarj, and a teacher, I.N. Korobova I.N; I was also shown around another department of the college, by L.V. Marakulina.

The college’s principal and the teachers showed great interest in cooperating on a book project using the children’s paintings to illustrate a book of Russian folk tales. With this intent, the children at the college were asked to illustrate several Russian folktales, one of them being “Father Frost”, or “Morozko”, as he is called in Russia.

Murmansk Art College for Children was founded in 1966 and was the first school built north of the Polar Circle in Russia. At present, there are 350 pupils enrolled at the college. The students receive a primary art education, learning the basics of painting, drawing, sculpture, and composition. They also study art history. The illustrations used in the book posted on this website, “RUSSIAN FOLK TALES: Retold by Ian Harkness; Illustrations by the students of Murmansk Art School for Children” form part of a more extensive collection based on Russian folk tales. The whole catalogue of paintings is posted here on the website.

A selection of the collection has been exhibited in both Russia and Norway.

More details concerning the paintings, the exhibitions, and correspondence between people involved on the project are posted in a separate file here on this website, titled: “Notes and correspondence regarding the children’s paintings and the exhibitions”.

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