New East Digital Archive

An island story: photographs from where the city meets the sea in St Petersburg

Photographer Oleg Savunov can’t resist the desolate charm of the edges of Vasilevsky Island, a neighbourhood of his native St Petersburg which stretches from the picture-postcard landmarks of the centre to the sprawl of the suburbs and then on to the sea. "You can really feel how close the Gulf of Finland is here. There’s a huge number of seagulls always hanging around the blank new embankment and there’s this unyielding wind. But when the wind does stop — and the weather changes fast — the ensuing silence is uncomfortable and the wall of sea-fog coming off the bay makes it hard to breathe.” Savunov's pictures evoke the melancholy atmosphere of the place — an atmosphere now threatened with change as development returns to the frontier between city and sea.

12 September 2014