Lutsk House with Chimeras… without chimeras. Many tourists go to the unique house of the Lutsk sculptor Mykola Golovan. The man devoted half a lifetime to creating this masterpiece and continues to improve it. The Soviets took down his parents’ house. There was a painting on a whole wall with Pompeii’s stories. Mosaic. Sculptures. And cherries under the house… But they gave a small Khrushchevapartment instead. But Lutsk sculptor Golovan could not contain his creative soul in four walls – he built a strange house right on the swamp near the Styr River.

Master and red-haired Nimets

He is 75. And he looks just like a hero from some strange film about goblins. Or maybe from Victor Hugo‘s novel? Textured. Like he molded himself. The weather-beaten body. The shorts are greasy from daily work with stones and concrete. Heavy arms, legs. Permanent hair style. The lace around the wonderful bright eyes. Either from smiles, or from frequent reflections.

“Olena, just do not forget to tell me to water the flowers”, – he stops on the way to the rotunda.

It’s rare to hear how the Master himself says about his masterpiece and everything that attracts thousands of tourists to it. He speaks an exquisite Ukrainian and has some inner intelligence, strong as a stone boulder. Every day he is surrounded by his works. Although, this house is more like a workshop, a creative laboratory. But the sculptor Golovan cannot imagine himself outside of this house, because he “rooted”.

He is going to show what is there. Under our feet are concrete slabs with glass bottles inside. He molded each and everyone himself and paved it himself…

On the threshold of the house the red-haired cat is lazily stretched to the point of indecency. The sculptor bathes it often. But he did not name it yet. “Between us,” he says, “I call him Red-haired Nimets (German)”. The cat understands the sculptor, it seems that even better than many people.

House, painting, mosaic – under the bulldozer

The history of this house began in the late 70’s. Mykola Golovan is Lutsk resident. His mother was Polish and was a good seamstress. Father was Odesa citizen and a good carpenter. From childhood they saw a talent for drawing in their son. Therefore, subsequently sent him to study in Lviv, in the school of applied art. The young sculptor returned from his studies to Lutsk, then worked, was looking for himself. In the courtyard of the parents’ yard, they erected a “hanging-place”. The father made windows and doors, the son poured walls from the slag. And then he made a work of art from the house: he painted the wall with Greek themes, decorated it with sculpture and mosaic. And when they built up Lutsk, Golovan’s house was decided to be demolished.

“Then it’s like: they took it where they wanted, and no one asked anything. They compensated for the trees and apartments to someone. Imagine: how could I live in that “Khrushchev” apartment? This is when I had a nice yard, a cherry garden, apple trees, plums… That house was all in a mosaic, and inside there was a painting on a Greek theme, something like Pompeii. The guys were gathering there, there was a whole story!.. Something I was able to save. But the main part disappeared. Those frescoes and all my work went under the bulldozer. And after that – that’s all: I undertook to save my soul”, – recalls Mykola Golovan.

He says, he “stalled” then. “Khrushchev” apartment, little children, vanity… So he decided to decorate with unique sculptures the Lutsk Central Recreation Park and not ask for it either money or praise – just a place for a new house.

“I already chose this place. Here, however, there was a swamp…”- he notes.

So in the park appeared the famous Alley of Golovan, which went to look like a sculpture exhibition and which was recently revived. And they gave the land for the sculptures in 1979. It is interesting that for more than 30 years “Golovan’s house” did not belong to Golovan, because until recently was not allowed to privatize the plot: although, it was on the outskirts and in the marsh, it was supposedly part of the historical and cultural reserve “Old Lutsk”.

All that is here is made by the sculptor himself. Every stone is brought by him. Each image is cherished by him.

“If Gaudi was alive, he would give me his hand”

Here, to the holy of holies of the author of the famous in all Ukraine, Lutsk House of Golovan, many people are eager to enter. They say that 70% of tourists, who come to see something interesting in Lutsk, first go to the Golovan Workshop, which is often called the “House with Chimeras” among the people, and then – to the ancient Lutsk Castle. However, there are many Lutsk residents, who consider Golovan’s house a scrap of sculptures, stones and various rubbish, and the artist himself an oddball. And so, the house in the Old City over Styr is even more interesting.

“You know, when they say to me: “You remind Gaudi in Barcelona​”, I answer: “If Gaudi was alive, he would give me his hand,” smiles Mykola Mykytovych.

In the rays of the sunset, his yard can be seen for hours. The fence, the house of strange shapes and all in incredible sculptures, behind it – the son’s smithy, the Italian courtyard… Between the finished works, among which the most sacred images – concrete blocks, pieces of sandstone, a mountain of glass bottles and thousands of small things, in which the master has already seen SOMETHING, but still did not find a place for them.

First of all he invites to look at the rotunda. Here, the sculptor Golovan hides from the city fuss and works on his masterpieces. Gloves of the Master. Brushes. Stones. The chair…

“Rotunda is a romance. At all times people need to do something to please the eye. From the 17th century until the 19th century, there was such a fashion: to make dilapidated castles in parks. I also want to give a kind of character to my work, so that it corresponded a little to this romance. And so, it works so well here,” explains the sculptor.

Lutsk residents know: he is annoyed when this is called “The House with Chimeras”. Because he calls it “vernissage”. Not otherwise.

“I do not like. Chimeras are in Kyiv. I sometimes joke: Chimeras are in Gorodetsky and in the Verkhovna Rada, and here is vernissage. There are no chimeras. There is a sacred sculpture, there is an allegory”, – he said.

“A little bit of Vatican”… And himself – among the apostles

At the top of the house is an inscription in Latin. I ask him, what is it?

«”Free labor is pleasure”», – he reads.

There are “a little bit of Vatican” here, and the sculpture of the architect of the Lutsk Castle Prince Lubart, and the only in the world sculpture of King Vitovt in the crown. Angels, Madonna, Lions… In a separate Italian courtyard, carefully “closed” from the road and superfluous looks, he collected all the work of his son Mykola. Son-sculptor, died early, leaving his father an ineradicable anguish…

He always invites his special guests to another unique space. Sacred place of Golovan – the kitchen, or the living room of the house.

The ceiling is decorated with a strange molding. The walls are in bizarre patterns. Table. Old photographs, from one of which, Golovan Junior gazes intently into everyone’s eyes. There are many photos of his son and various dear for the heart details. The old Christmas tree, still in the garlands. And glasses. And magazines with books…

“Here I have a kitchen as a prayer church”, adds the sculptor.

The sacred work for him, among all that is in this house-workshop over Styr, is “Family”.

“Here it is, created 35 years ago – he shows the bas-relief over the wide doors. – There are my children, my wife, and I, like Atlas, hold everything. This is when I was young and strong”.

They say that somewhere among the sculptures on the wall of a bizarre house, the author hid the image of himself.

“Oh… – he is a kind of embarrassed. – This is a paraphrase of the apostles. Here I am with a hammer. I did them when it was not allowed. These were the times of the Soviets, when religion was not in favor of the state. Even the eroticism they perceived better than the religious theme then”.

Therefore, it was a kind of protest. The sandstone from which the apostles were made, was pulled out of the swamp. I brought it here and carved it in a 15-degree frost with a casing on my shoulders. He says he wanted it to be faster.

“I have no doubt that my grandchildren still forge in the smithy where my son was forging”

Recently, the Lutsk community called Mykola Golovan an Honorary Citizen of Lutsk.

“It’s even more than they would have told me: “You’re a People’s Artist”. I am proud that I am a resident, that I create not only for the residents of the city, but also for the whole Ukraine. I will not be afraid of this word, because I was not mistaken in art. I try to do it honestly. From start to finish. With these hands”, – shows the exhausted fingers and strong hands with fast veins.

Last year, in Lutsk was his personal exhibition of drawings, with great success, which showed unexpectedly another Golovan. Black and white.

And yet at the present time 75-year-old Golovan rarely appears in public.

“You know, when a person has seen a lot during life, then in old age he is more silent… I will not take it all with me. And thanks to this vernissage, I live. I might not do it, but it’s good that I did it. It’s good that I see the world, because people come to me. That I got on one axis with our Lubart Castle. And it is appropriate for the antiquity of our city. And I have no doubt that my grandchildren still will forge in this smithy, where my son was forging. The main thing is for the authorities to keep this a little”, says Golovan.


… He is going to finally water his flowers. Conversation in the mystical rays of the setting sun, boldly playing the faces of his Madonnas, princes, apostles and martyrs, is interrupted with someone’s “Good daaay!” behind the fence.

The tourists again.

“Guys, where are you from? Oh, from Kyiv! Then go inside”, shouted Golovan, greeted and gave the young people a hand.

The red-haired Nimets stretched out deliciously on the warm threshold and alerted his ears.

Text: Olena Livitska

Photo: Pavlo Berezyuk

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