Born in St Petersburg, artist Marina Fedorova still lives and works in the city. An award-winning painter, Fedorova has exhibited her evocative work all over the world and participated in exclusive art fairs such as Art Paris and Art Moscow. Growing up towards the end of the Soviet era, Fedorova witnessed Leningrad’s transition to St Petersburg first hand and is an expert in finding the city’s most atmospheric spots that tell an important part of its story, from elegant gardens to an abandoned shipping yard and the delights of the redeveloped New Holland island. She shares her tips for visitors exploring the city and explains why after-dark sightseeing is one of her favourite pastimes.
What are your first memories of St Petersburg?
My first memory is when I was three years old and my granny took me to Moscow Victory Park in the Moskovsky district. I remember admiring the beautifully dressed people walking in the park and noticing all the patriotic sculptures, listening to the band play and eating an ice cream that seemed to me the best in the world! It’s a very happy childhood memory for me.
You split your time between St Petersburg and Munich. When you arrive back in St Petersburg, what are the first things you do?
Every time I arrive back to St Petersburg – particularly if it’s summer and dusk – I like to take a stroll along Nevsky Prospect, the main street in the city which has been the site of many historic happenings.
Describe a perfect day for you in St Petersburg?
I would say that my perfect day in St Petersburg would be during the period of White Nights – it feels like a constant holiday! I’d have a leisurely brunch, take a walk in Summer Garden (I studied at the nearby Saint Petersburg Art and Industry Academy), maybe enjoy a boat trip along canals and have dinner with friends in one of the open-air restaurants in the evening.
If you’re in search of artistic inspiration in the city, where do you go?
As an artist, one of my favourite areas of the city is Petrogradka. I find it has such a romantic atmosphere, as well as a bit of decadence. I love the Art Nouveau style of architecture and the fact that it’s close to Krestovskii island, which is especially picturesque during the autumn.
What dishes must visitors try whilst in the city?
I wouldn’t say I’m a gourmet expert, but I always tell visitors to the city that they must try ‘Russian salad’ (salad Olivier in Russian), cottage cheese pancakes and Oblepiha (buckthorn) tea.
After dark, where are you most likely to be found in St Petersburg?
It might sound strange, but I like to take a drive in the centre of the city, down the embankment of the Neva river. The twinkling lights of the buildings and riverside location create a picturesque setting even after dark.
Where do you like to take friends who are visiting the city from out of town?
I like to take my friends and guests to the Museum of Contemporary Art, as it always has a wide variety of exhibitions and something to suit every taste, and they also have a great restaurant. The New Holland area is fantastic year-round; in winter you can expect ice skating, Christmas fairs and activities for kids, whilst in summer there’s a good schedule of events, concerts and night life.
Have you discovered any secret spots in the city that you can share with us?
When I’m in need of some time alone, I often head to the abandoned part of the Sea Port area of the city. I love the collection of old ships and boats left there as it reminds me of the famous sci-fi film Stalker, directed by Andrei Tarkovsky.
Murder, intrigue, crime and punishment… St Petersburg has it all. Those fascinated by the more ghoulish side of history will love these significant spots from fiction, and real life.