Ірина Білик Iryna Bilyk

* 1952

  • Interviewer: Tell me how did you start doing bead work? Oh, that was such an interesting story. I was given a... and... such a beaded lace, and it broke, and the beads fell on me. I picked it up once, and then again, and then I told myself, "Woman, you have higher physical education, take scissors, cut it yourself, and then start all over again." I put that thread back together on a new strong thread because it was made on a regular bobbin thread, and it captivated me. Then I realized, "Oh, how interesting, what if i do this, or that?" - and there were no books, there was nothing. That was twenty years ago. And it kind of intrigued me a little bit. How do you do that? I began to draw on a millimeter chartered paper, and then I thought: "Listen, it is so simple, you take a square-ruled notebook, chukh-chukh, you draw, and draw" – and I came up with different... and... as well as for myself, in order to explain to someone. How do you draw it to make it look easy? And the idea came, then you do one thing, second, third, to share it with the children, I was interested and they were interested. And then books began to emerge, and I saw that I was on the right track of a purely schematic representation of what was being done. I look at piece of work now - and there is no problem. I draw, make, reconstruct old products and so on. And in this regard... err… having withdrawn from the director's office at the Center of children's creativity in Sykhiv, I recruited the children for the beading activity group. This was on January, 17, 2000. Nowadays it is the 21st [year]. And all this time, I've been working with the kids. It is interesting for me to explore this tradition and pass on this tradition. I have my collection of such, well, more than a hundred and a half of reconstructed ancient pieces, and to do new works on a traditional basis, to come up with something new and modern that would be pleasant to wear. It seems to me that in the first place it is pleasant to wear... and-and here are the ancient reconstructions. How sensitive people were… and sensitive to colors combinations by nature, the composition was beautiful there. Well, everything is so extraordinary that as I look at that old work that is scattered from the horse's hair, the first desire is not to breath and restore. Restore it, give it a second life. And, I set it as a goal in working with children. We do a lot of things. That is, I have to teach a child various techniques from scratch - in a year. Put a thread in the needle, teach to pick beads. You invest two months, three months of work for how to handle a finger - how to hold a finger, "why you don't have a pulled thread, there are all sorts of nuances of that work.

  • You know, I was still very young… and… um… about… and… those events… and… where I was born, in fact, what would i know - we just lived, you know. I saw my parents, I saw what they were doing, I saw their environment, I saw those people. ...A-And for me, personally, no much drama y-y-y... so... i-i-in ... the young age, in the childhood, I did not feel any, you did not feel it – we lived the way we lived. A-And... the main thing was that we loved each other – it was very important. We respected each other – I saw it: how to love, how to respect, how to... um... and... well, to give some basic help, to do a favor to someone, well, but those were my parents, you know, and their environment, actually consisted of the same people as them, mostly intellectuals, and then highly... such highly educated people who had to interact with my father, who graduated from seven classes, you know, those... and-and... to saw the trees, well. So it was their life, and so it went... errr... the history of the society where they lived... Errr, well, you know, first of all it is alwasy good, when you, heh, are little, when you have parents around you, young and strong, and beautiful, and then already, and from the height of this bell tower of life, you look back at that as something good because, of course, it makes a huge difference to compare the material benefits of today's society and what we used to have even some twenty years ago. But you have to understand, and appreciate that we had such a generation... of really interesting people, the idea-obsessed people. Now I'm more shocked by people's indifference to each other and to what's going on around us. I do have some great hope for young people, for your generation... and-and that there must come that critical moment when you will understand that you need to rise up and do for yourself what is necessary, you understand.

  • I already had two brothers, and-and Vasylko was the youngest, and those two children were under my care, because my mother had to cook, wash cloths... earn... earn a penny, however she could. Well, imagine, in February, my dad brought twenty-two rubles, even if the bread cost sixteen kopecks at the time, in order for a family of five to live for a month, the twenty-two rubles was not enough. That's how, how much he was paid for his work. Or... and-and... in the Khrushchev period of '62 to '63, when we got up early, at six o'clock, we went to take a queue in the bread shop, about eleven or twelve, a truck brought the bread...And they gave a loaf of bread for one person, one bread per person; therefore there was such a big counter, and such a gap in it, and such a big knife. They cut "chah", half of the bread that was stuck, and it came to us as a quarter, and they gave one loaf for us three! one quarter! of bread, you see, and the middle was sort of flowing, and a crust was on top, the little Vasyl, the rickety one, the small one... and he would "well" pinch that skin, Roman would pinch from the other side, and until we reached home there was a little bit of pulp left, you know, the flowing part. You would not even give it to the chickens, not to mention to eat yourself, but my dad had to go to work, and my mom... I don't know how she survived, you know. I can't imagine. Now, coming to Kosiv and finding ourselves in this terrible situation, it was a shock for my mother. My mother said it many times: "Ivan, why did we leave Siberia, at least we could make some fish there in Biryus river... err... we could catch, we could kill some elk, or something, at least you could get something. There was already your own potato, and here until..."– during the pre-harvest time goes when everything is over, errrrr, you have something available already in the orchard, in the garden patch. When we came there, I was eating raw potatoes for three years. There were apples, but I ate raw frozen potatoes, as I used to in Siberia. And there's was no job, and there was no food to eat, and-and-and-and, the school, I had to go to first grade, and there was no money to buy the school uniform.

  • I kept asking myself, "Why-why...well...in such unusual conditions... did Dad survive?" Because he told about so many adventures from that life that, well, there seemed to be no chance for life. Well, that's a fact. They walked...and... seventy-five kilometers on foot from...and-and...Borzovo in Khandalsk to register their marriage, and me, as a child who was born. So seventy-five kilometers (laughs), my mom and dad carried me in turns, but they walked there on foot! And back, my mother says, she was completely exhausted...(stutters)...how to get home, and they did not want to stay forever in the middle of that taiga forest, that's all. Dad made up the raft...and, uh, floated it off to the water. And he said, “We sail downstream,” and they got to the whirlpool. And my dad says: "I don't know how on earth... and-and... well... I had such a long big stick, because the river was deep, and we sort of moved along the edge, and on along the edge, but we got into such a whirlpool that I only had time... to navigate and figure out what to do, and an idea struck me: ‘God save us!’" - do you understand? - “Save us!” And then he says, “We could all die. You, and your mom, and me.” But we still stayed alive (laughs).

  • Full recordings
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    LVIV, 18.10.2021

    duration: 02:01:52
    media recorded in project Voices of Ukraine
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Я народилася третього квітня. А надворі було мінус п’ятдесят два! Можете собі уявити?

 Iryna Bilyk as a guide in the Kosiv Mykhaylo Pavlyk Museum.
Iryna Bilyk as a guide in the Kosiv Mykhaylo Pavlyk Museum.
photo: family archive

Ірина Білик (у дівоцтві — Кабин) народилася 3 квітня 1952 р. у спеціальному поселенні Борзово (Пєя) Довгомостовського району Красноярського краю, РРФСР. Обоє батьків були членами опору у своїх республіках — батько в Україні, мати в Латвії. У Сибіру народилися брати Ірини — Роман та Василь, там перебувала її тітка (по батькові) Павлина. Великий вплив на її виховання мали татові товариші, які також і після повернення з Сибіру, підтримували зв’язок з сім’єю — Пётр Буянцев та Олександр Гринько. Після школи вступила на фізичний факультет Львівського державного університету ім. І. Франка, проте не змогла поступити на аспірантуру через своє “минуле”. Працювала в освітній сфері, після отримання Україною незалежності — директоркою дитячого центру творчості у одному з львівських районів. Захоплення бісероплетінням надихнуло на те, щоб реконструювати традиційну українську жіночу біжутерію, з 2000 р. — ділиться досвідом з своїми учнями у одному з гуртків центру творчості. Діє в громадській сфері — почесна членкиня Союзу Українок.