Cigarette break on the water

Title: Cigarette break on the water

Dimensions 40″ x 20″
2017, Oil on canvas

The story: Life In Siberia

Nova Chaplin is a small remote community on the far east of Siberia, where the only way to reach it, is either by boat, or to fly to Provideniya, and then drive up the only road out of the town which leads to and ends at this community. It was the end of June during the period of 24 hour daylight, and the ice had just broken and melted. We were at Nova Chaplin to film and document the way of life of the arctic people, as well as to film historical recreations. Here was our boat driver and our one guide smoking a cigarette while we prepared to film the area.

Alcoholism is a real issue in this area. The landscape is so barren and empty, and there is virtually nothing to do to keep one’s mind busy. Imagine living your live in what is essentially a gravel pit. Heavy fog had us grounded for an extra two weeks where we couldn’t even film or do anything. After the 50th game of cribbage, it is easy to see how one could turn to the bottle. As a result of this, it was always a gamble as to whether our boat driver would arrive sober or drunk.

During the winter months, the rest of the crew went back to film the harsh conditions. During this time, they learned that our boat driver depicted in this painting had passed away. He had been drunk, walking back to the hunting camp from the hot springs and must have passed out near an eagle’s nest. Eagles had attacked him, and pecked off his face.