By the foot paths of Taras Shevchenko. From Kachanivka to Washington 

Today is the great day. Today is the birthday of one of the greatest son of Ukraine, ascetic of the Ukrainian nation and at the same time the light of all humanity - Taras Shavchenko. We remember how much this HUMAN did for our freedom.

How many strong and motivated piece of art and words he sent us about the dignity, the truth and the real face of a russian. Time is running but every word of the masterpiece of Ukrainian nation remain with the same strong meaning.

Today, we published s project of our friend Mykola Cherep, a citizen and patriot of Ukraine, who values the history and culture of Ukraine, who did a lot before the war to remind us with our identity and who shares with all who what learn more about Ukraine.

"And the path where you walked

 It has grown up with a prickly thorn..."

Just two short lines, but what a deep meaning is embedded in these words, written on August 21, 1859 by the hand of the ascetic of the Ukrainian nation and at the same time the light of all humanity - Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko, during his last visit to Kachanivka, in the guest album of the manor’s owners - the Tarnovsky family.

Kachanivka Palace. Photo credits: Mykola Cherep

Founded in 1772, Kachanivka, Chernihiv region,  is today an outstanding monument of palace and park art of world importance. Kachanivka is a legendary place, sung in word and brush. The Kachaniv complex, which covers an area of ​​560 hectares and includes a number of architectural monuments (an outstanding palace among them) and an ancient park with a cascade of lakes, is one of the brightest examples of manor architecture and, at the same time, the only palace-park ensemble in Ukraine that has survived to this day in the complex.

A walk in Kachanivka is an exciting journey deep into the centuries. The manor flourished in the 19th century, when its owners were the Tarnovsky family, famous for their deeds.

Kachanivka Palace. Photo credits: Mykola Cherep.

Since 1981, Kachanivka has been a National Historical and Cultural Reserve, where every guest opens new pages of the history of Ukraine and feels the healing power of the magical Ukrainian nature.

Due to the harmonious beauty of the park, exquisite architecture, generosity and hospitality of the hosts, "Kachanivka" was the center of the spiritual culture of the Left Bank of Ukraine for about 100 years.

While staying at the manor, artists, composers, writers, historians, scientists found their creative inspiration... The album of honored guests of the Tarnovskys, preserved to these days, contains 608 autographs.

Kachanivka Park, Photo credits: Mykola Cherep.

Closely related to Kachanivka and its owners is the name of the national hero and symbol of Ukraine - Taras Shevchenko, who, according to historical facts, was in Kachanivka at least 4 times. For the first time, by the invitation of the owner Hryhoriy Tarnovsky, Kobzar visited the estate in May 1843, where he had previously sent one of his best paintings, "Catherine".

Catherina. Taras Shevchenko.

With amazing park compositions, landscaped meadows and lakes, unforgettable nightingale songs, unique palace architecture and a variety of park structures, Kachanivka met Shevchenko in all its beauty. After noisy St. Petersburg, the luxurious park and forests of Kachanivka were the best places for Shevchenko to relax. That spring, the artist lived in and near Kachanivka for a dozen days and, of course, gathered material for literary and artistic work, made sketches and sketches for his future paintings.

Kachanivka Park. Photo credits: Mykola Cherep.

Being in Kachanivka, the great poet loved to sit against the night under the century-old-5-trunked oak tree, where, having gathered friends around him, he sang Ukrainian folk songs. In the manor park, there is now a meadow, where Taras Hryhorovych used to communicate with serf musicians and peasants under the mentioned oak tree, which is called "Shevchenko's Meadow".

Hlinka's gazebo, Photo credits: Mykola Cherep.

Shevchenko was also drawn to Kachanivka by invisible charms and had sincere feelings for the charming niece of Grigory Tarnovsky, who every summer visited her uncle in Kachanivka - Nadia Tarnovsky. Nadiya Vasylivna was an educated and intelligent woman who could not but notice Shevchenko, and one of the important factors that contributed to a closer emotional connection between Shevchenko and Tarnovskaya was Nadiya's position in life. She was a deeply religious person, but just like Shevchenko, she hated serfdom with all her heart.

The poet repeatedly wooed Nadiya and all without success. Tarnovska respected and loved Shevchenko, and these were feelings full of respect and family closeness. Kobzar was like a brother to her and she did not want to spoil friendship with love.

Kachanivka Park. Photo credits: Mykola Cherep.

In summer of 1859, after a long exile, Shevchenko returned to Ukraine and went to Kachanivka. Nadiya Tarnovska was in St. Petersburg at that time. Not having met his love, the upset poet writes only 2 lines from the 4th poem of the cycle "In the Casemate" in the album of guests. These were Shevchenko's last visits to Kachanivka.

Kachanivka Park. Photo credits: Mykola Cherep.

The photo exhibition "By the foot paths of Taras. From Kachanivka to Washington " represents photos taken by photographer Mykola Cherep before the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine, in 2007-2021. For the first time, a series of these photographs was exhibited in Cherkasy Museum of Local History, but unfortunately, in peacetime, they could see it only for 2 days, as the opening of the exhibition took place on February 22, 2022.

Each photo of the author has its own mood, its own story of a certain time segment of the park's history and conveys its own reality, and one gradually notices that they are not only seeing a picture, but also smelling smells and hearing certain sounds.

Kachanivka Park. Photo credits: Mykola Cherep

Contemplating Kachanivka in the artist's photos, one will not only get to know an unknown place, but also touch its history, feel its spiritual power, the harmonious combination of architecture and nature, the life of the park from the inside. And may these photos, imbued with the artist's love for his Little Motherland, be a call to visit Kachanivka and learn its secrets.

Kachanivka Park. Photo credits: Mykola Cherep

" I am extremely lucky to live next to the amazing Kachanivka and admire its landscapes at any time, walking along the paths that were walked by figures of culture and science significant for Ukraine more than a century and a half ago, to be filled with the life-giving force of nature and new ideas, to observe the life of the park and its inhabitants. I see my own mission in preserving and popularizing the uniqueness of Kachanivka. And thus, in my opinion, my photos help me a lot. Through them, I try to maintain a dialogue with the viewer even hundreds and thousands of kilometers away, introduce them to the historical and cultural heritage of my country, show the exclusivity of one of the best examples of garden and park art of the 19th and early 20th centuries. and leave space to immerse oneself in their own thoughts...

Kachanivka Park. Photo credit: Mykola Cherep

Now there is a war going on in Ukraine, the end of which is eagerly awaited by every conscientious Ukrainian, but we continue to live and do everything possible for our Victory.

Kachanivka Park. Photo credit: Mykolaiv Cherep

Representing the photographs of this exhibition-sale, as an artist, in spite of everything, I intend to develop Ukrainian culture and tell about my people and their values ​​to the citizens and guests of the USA, who are supporting us in every possible way in an extremely difficult time for my country.

Kachanivka Park. Photo credit: Mykola Cherep

My main goal as a citizen and patriot of Ukraine is to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine. I believe that bright times will come and people from civilized countries of the world will visit peaceful, surprisingly beautiful, colorful and friendly Ukraine.      

Kachanivka, Ukraine. Photo credits: Mykola Cherep

With respect to everyone who reads these lines, Mykola Cherep

Mykola Cherep - a Ukrainian photographer, a public figure, a Local Historians of Ukraine’s Union member, a Ukrainian Heraldic Society and Guild of Landscape Architects of Ukraine’s member, a philanthropist. He was born on March 20, 1972 in the village of Shevchenkove, Chernihiv region, has Cossack roots.  Has a 28 years practical experience of historical-ethnographic, monument protection and tourism activity.

He has been engaged in photography for the past 15 years, during which his photos have been exhibited at 24 exhibitions in Ukraine and abroad (22 of which are personal). In 2016, he was awarded the Golden Medal of the Laureate of the National Prize "Blooming Ukraine" for the series of photographs "The Game of Light".

He established the agro-tourist complex "The Sokolynyi Khutir” in the small Motherland of a kin, in the village of Petrushyvka, Chernihiv region, which is famous for its extremely picturesque landscapes, together with his wife Larisa in 1999. The palace and park complex "Kachanivka" is located 1.5 km from the farmstead.

In 2005, "The Sokolynyi Khutir" was included in the ten unique centers of rural green tourism of Ukraine according to the rating by the Ministry of Family and Youth Affairs and the Association of Young Entrepreneurs of Ukraine.

In 2014, "The Sokolynyi Khutir" became a laureate in the "Seven Wonders of Cossack History of Ukraine" nomination, and in 2018 - the winner of the "Tourist Chernihiv Region" competition, accordingly.

In 2010, he founded the family "Equestrian Theater", which performs at military and patriotic festivals throughout Ukraine.

In 2005, on the basis of family relics, a historical and ethnographic museum was created in “The Sokolynyi Khutir” agricultural estate, where 32 themes of folk crafts are represented, including: embroidery, blacksmithing, pottery, woodworking crafts, Cossack weapons, icon painting, folk painting, weaving , wicker weaving, doll-motanka, pysankari, beekeeping, fishing, cooperage, equestrian business and others.

In 2016, he established two more museums in " The Sokolynyi Khutir " - the Museum of the History of the Liberation Struggle in Chernihiv region and the "Time Machine" open-air museum.

In 2017, he founded the Art Gallery named after T. G. Shevchenko, which simultaneously hosts 3 mint exhibitions, an art exhibition (presented paintings by Ukrainian artists, created in Kachanivka and during art plein air events held in "The Sokolynyi Khutir") and a personal photo exhibition of Mykola Cherep.

In 2013, he founded the Mint, where commemorative coins dedicated to historical events, cultural monuments and outstanding figures of Ukraine are minted at “The Sokolyny Khutor”. The leading place in the collection is occupied by coins dedicated to the outstanding personality of Ukrainian culture - Taras Shevchenko, Ukrainian public and cultural activist, to Vasyl Tarnovsky (junior), a collector of Ukrainian antiquities, philanthropist, owner of the Kachanivka manor,  and to the pearl of architectural and park art of the 19th century - the Kachanivka mansion. Currently, the Mint has more than 100 commemorative coins on display.

He is awarded the Order of Ivan Bohun for his contribution to the revival and development of Ukrainian Cossacks, diplomas "For the best work in the organization of rural green tourism" and "For conscientious work in the name of the Independence of Ukraine" of the Chernihiv Regional State Administration. He has an honorary award "Patrons of Ukraine" (2015).

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[…] enemy congratulated us on Kobzar’s birthday [Taras Shevchenko] with perhaps the strongest missile attack during the whole war. The strongest not […]

[…] Those photos were taken by Mykola Cherep in a unique and historical place – Kachanivka. […]

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