Shosse Revolutsi (or Revoultion Street) sits in the no-man's land between the pastel, chocolate-box classicism of the city centre and the towering new apartment blocks in the ever-expanding suburbs. Known locally as a "sleeping district", the areas has little or no amenities apart from a multitude of cheap supermarkets (which seem to spawn beyond all proportion to the number of residents) and a small park. When I moved into a 3 room Khrushchyovka here in 2010, it felt as though I had moved back in time- that I was living in a small pocket of the Soviet Union that had survived the march of New Russia. 5 years later and nothing has changed except me.
Official records state that St Petersburg has an average of 1563 sunshine hours a year, or roughly 4 hours a day. This is an exaggeration at best, a lie at worst. In the winter, weeks can go by without the sun making an appearance. Grey skies bleed into concrete apartment blocks that melt into bitumen pavement. However, when the sun does shine, the wait almost seems worthwhile, with the quality of light being second to none.
When the Western media cover Victory Day, the Russian equivalent of Remembrance Sunday held annually on May 9th, the focus is largely on the pomp and grandeur of the military display in Req Square. That misses the point. Victory Day is far more about people than weapons. 20 million Soviet Citizens died during World War II. 20 million. No Russian family escaped that loss, and you can feel it on the streets. There aren't very many veterans left now, but people still gather to chant spasiba (thank you) in the parade, sing songs and remember those who died. These photos cover 2 Victory Days, the first the 2013 celebrations in the town of Dno, and the second the 70th anniversary march in St Petersburg in 2015.
There are some things in life you just can’t leave alone and, like an opened box of Pringles or a half-picked scab on my knee, St Petersburg’s dvors are always at the back of my mind calling me to return to photograph them. These tiny enclosed squares, a stones-throw from the major streets, are still as dark and mysterious today as they were 100 years ago and offer some of the best material an urban photographer could ever wish for.
Described to me on my arrival in Russia as a "country house", but more like an allotment with a posh shed, dachas can be found on the outskirts of every Russian city. Given as gifts for hard work during the Soviet period, a dacha is not only a place to take refuge from the city heat during the summer, but also a great source of food during the winter (one of my friends told me that for a time during the 90s the only food they had was what they could grow. Of course, many modern dachas are built in brick replete with electricity and a sauna, but the majority are still in the original design, built from hand with whatever materials are available.