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Polonne and Kiev: Ceramics Factories in Ukraine

Posted by The Russian Shop on Jun 8th 2020

 Polonne is an city on the Khomora River in the Khmelnitsky region in western Ukraine. Originally it was built as a castle fortress on the banks of the river. Its recorded history dates back to 998. After passing through many regimes, Polonne's status as village was finally settled in 1938, when it became a city. In the 1880's, porcelain and earthenware was crafted on the Polonsky estate. Several years after, a cooperative of craftsmen, aka "Keramik", was opened. This became the Polonsky factory of artistic ceramics, officially founded in 1956, which effectively produced millions of porcelain products annually, including many unique and beautiful pieces. After Ukraine's Independence, it was privatized and still thrived. Over time, however, economic weakness and foreign porcelain imports coupled with tax inspection and pension funding forced the company into bankruptcy in 2011. The legacy still appears to exist through the Khmelnytsky Regional Museum.

The Kiev Experimental Art Ceramics Factory (Kiev ECC) was founded in 1924 on the basis of a small workshop, which manufactured ceramic paints and decals. During World War II, the plant was destroyed but restored with the influx of capital investment. Mid-20th century found an expansion of the factory to manufacture high-quality decorative painted figures. Eventually the large art workshop became one of the best in the USSR at that time. Famous porcelain artists and sculptors that worked at the plant included O. L. Zhnikrup , V. I. Shcherbina , O. P. Rapay-Markish , G. M. Kaluga, A. D. Sorokin and many others. Also, Petrikov's painting on porcelain was introduced here for the first time. The fall of the USSR was not kind to these types of enterprises and eventually the factory, around 2006, ceased to exist. A collection of museum-quality pieces were to have been transferred to the State Museum of Decorative Ukrainian Art, but instead disappeared and presumed stolen. An interesting side note is that many of the porcelain items exported under the "USSR" mark were Ukrainian, with the Kiev factory making some of the largest contributions, by some accounts almost 40%.