Tina Sharapova was born in Moscow, Russia. She grew up in a big family where everybody was able to make something with his or her own hands — embroider, carve wood, knit or sew. She tried different handicrafts as a child and decided to become an artist and an artisan to make beautiful things. Her formal art training took place at the Moscow College of Arts and Crafts with majors in carpets and tapestry making. After graduating she worked several years as a designer in a carpet company, then she took part in organizing a small workshop studio "Donegal". This studio cooperated with a carpet factory in Ireland, founded by Voycey, a friend and colleague of a famous British designer William Morris. "Donegal" studio mostly worked on unique pieces of art — hand-made tapestries based on the paintings of modern artists, one of kind pieces for interior design.
In 2006 Tina moved to China with her family. She was impressed with the bright ornamentation, rich culture and vast diversity of Chinese art. She tried calligraphy and Chinese ink-painting, that brought her new experience she tried to use in her art. After a period of searching for a new vision, when she tried doll-making, paper clay, patchwork, she came to felt-making, which was close to the carpets for its soft texture and great many usages. For number of years she was running classes for children and grown-ups where students learned how to make things with there own hands. It was not only a handicraft, but also a way to express inner feelings through colours and forms, the way to decorate the house with unique items.
In 2016 Tina decided to continue her education in Canada and came to Fredericton, New Brunswick, to get a diploma in Textile Design in New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. She graduated in 2018, learned weaving and pattern design that enriched her art and brought her new possibilities in the textile area.
Member of New Brunswick Crafts Council
Member of Fiber Arts Network, Fredericton, NB
During last several years Tina took part in several online and live exhibitions:
2020 “Craft 2020: Reflections”, Fiber Arts Network exhibition, Fredericton, NB, Canada
2020 “Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre Exhibition “, St. Andrews, NB, Canada
2019 “Hers” exhibition with Created Here magazine, Fredericton, NB, Canada
2018 "Shrine" exhibition with Felt::Feutre Canada, award for the best wearable piece, Canada
2017 150 Canada Fiber Arts Network Exhibition, Fredericton, NB, Canada
2016 World of Threads Exhibiton, Oakville, ON, Canada
2015 Beijing to Lausanne Textile Biennale, Nantong, China
2015 European Days of Felting, Felleten, France
2015 FeltFest, 3d International Felting Festival, Sankt-Petersburg, Russia
2014 Warm palette group exhibition, Beijing, China
2014 9-th International Beijing Exhibition of Art and Creativity, Beijing, China
2013 8-th International Beijing Exhibition of Art and Creativity, Beijing, China
I mostly work with wool in wet felting and needle felting, but also like to use watercolour or digital images to create unique pieces of art that can enchant the viewers and bring them to a new level of understanding of art and its connection to their lives. My favourite media is wool, as it gives me endless possibilities to create shapes and forms. I make small pieces, such as bags and toys, as well as bigger items, such as dresses and wall hangings. Wool is soft and warm, it brings me the feeling of a cosy lodge, where you can stay safe wrapping in a wooly cocoon.
While working with wool I use traditional techniques of wet felting with hot water and soap. The process itself is quite a labour-consuming as it needs a lot of muscle and energy to rub and roll woollen pieces, pour hot or cold water, knead, throw and wrap to get a high-quality felted fabric that will last for years, will not shrink or fade. It is a very satisfying process to turn a pile of soft wool into a real piece of art you can use in everyday life — such as a pillow or a dress. The felted wool comes into the life in the splashes of soapy water, in hot steam and smell of warm sunny field where sheep are grazing. I help it with my hands, I pat and press the fibres to transform them into a shape.
Most of my works are narrative, my own universe is inhabited with smart hares, toothy fishes, magical heroes and other fairy-tale creatures that can lead you away to their magic forest. Tales and legends play an important role in my work. I use ancient symbols and archetypes to fill modern time and to liven the usual routine of a city life. These traditional characters such as hares, horsemen, birds and fishes appeal to our inner feelings, our subconscious and help us to understand ourselves better.
My works mostly respond to the feelings and I use dreams and stories as a starting point. Rather than presenting an illustration to the fairy-tale, an image is created to inspire the spectators and give them food for meditation.
Once upon a time there lived a king who had three sons. When the king was in his old age and his eyesight was poor, he heard that there was an orchard in the kingdom where apples of youth grew, and where a well full of living water could be found. If the old man could eat such an apple he would find youth, and if he could wash his eyes with water his sight would be restored. And the youngest son said to his father: “I will go and will bring you the apple of youth and a bottle of living water.”
And so, after many difficulties, this youngest son returned home with the promised apples and water and they lived happily ever after.
I love fairy tales, they inspire me; sometimes I feel like I am living in a fairy tale myself. My name is Tina Sharapova, I am an artist and a felt maker. I was born in Moscow, lived 10 years in China and now have come to Canada. I like to travel, to see new places and meet new people. I love nature and I think the best way to have a rest is to sit under a tree in a green forest with a cup of good tea. When I see magnificent trees, gentle flowers and adorable mushrooms around me I feel such admiration for the great mystery of the Universe that brings all these marvelous things around us.
Mystery surrounds us and the most mysterious thing I like to work with is sheep’s wool. It is soft in the beginning, but can be transformed in human hands. When people ask me: “How do you do your felting? Do you need special devices or machines?” I say: “No. It is very simple, all you need is wool, hot water and soap. Soap helps the fibers to tangle together and hot water makes the process faster. If you ever washed your wool sweater in a washing machine in hot water you know what I mean. It shrunk and became smaller! The same thing is happening with the wool. After hours of rubbing in splashes of hot soapy water, after rolling, kneading, squishing and throwing, you will get a wonderful soft material that is lightweight, warm and flexible. Felted hats and bags can last for years without losing shape and colour if you did every step properly.
Fluffy wool is not the only thing I use for making art. I like to use watercolour for small illustrations for its bright colours and light transparency. I also work in digital media, using Photoshop and Illustrator to create pictures of other worlds that are magical, but at the same time, quite believable. I learned to use graphic programs while working as a designer, making labels, packaging and book covers. I changed occupation several times during my life, but my favourite job was in a Chinese style tea house in Moscow, Russia. People came there to drink good tea, while relaxing and unwinding after a busy day. They had to remove their shoes and mute their mobile phones to respect the tranquil atmosphere of a tea ceremony. My role there was that of a storyteller – telling the tale of the tea, its history and traditions while preparing the tea and ensuring the guests were comfortable and relaxed.
I understand now that the tea taught me a lot. It was not just a drink, like coffee or juice; it had its own spirit, its own mood. You need to be attentive, moving slowly, carefully and with confidence to make good tea. Don’t oversteep the tea, don’t pour water on the table, respect your guests to get the most of a tea party. Tea helps people to communicate, to attune to each other, to harmonize the atmosphere around them. It is a real magic!
I have always been looking for magic, seeking wonders around me. Have you ever thought that you would like to live in a fairy tale? To follow the white rabbit down its hole, to meet a real magician and fight the dragon, to enter a wardrobe and find yourself in a Wonderland? You can find this magic in art, as it can carry you away from reality to wonder. Art addresses people’s subconscious using images and symbols from myths and legends. All these mighty bears and tigers, heroes and magicians, witches and princesses are the parts of our inner lives. You can call your inner bear to help you to be brave or a magician to change a difficult situation. I use symbols and fairy tales in my art to give hints and clues so everybody can think of his or her own life. For me, it is always better to leave some space for imagination without illustrating the story directly.
And it is a fun game to offer people to bring their own ideas about what they can see on the picture. You can learn a lot about their thoughts! I’d like to make such things that can make people think about their life, about what they love and what they want. My dream project is to make such a piece that every person can see what he or she needs to feel better, to lighten one’s mood, to feel happier. It is like Mary Poppins’ medicine – various people felt different tastes, but it helped everybody! Maybe it will be a whole room! Or a special workshop – “make your own happy room!” Yes, maybe that will be a good idea!