Grigor Hovsepyan: "I spent seven years creating a copy of the khachkar from Goshavank"

The beginning of the way

My name is Grigor, I was born and raised in Dilijan. I started doing wood carving quite late, after the army, but my father started doing it even later – at the age of 50. I have been working in this field for more than 25 years. The workshop in which I work was opened by the artist Vanik Sharambeyan in 1986, this street is named after him. The artist himself invited my father to work there. When I returned from the army, my father was already working in this workshop, and I, with his help, began to immerse myself in this business.

«I haven't «touched» woodwork for a whole year.»

At first it was a hobby, but I wasn't very good at it, and I was disappointed. I haven't «touched» woodwork for a whole year. But something made me try again – and I succeeded. I started learning this skill by making pendants in the form of Armenian crosses, then I started making small khachkars, and so I expanded the range of my possibilities. I started making round plates later, but they have the greatest demand from customers – they are functional, they can be hung on the wall. In my work I use mainly wild pear and walnut wood.

Григор Овсепян

Successes and the title of People's Master

It should be noted that I am a good painter and graduated from an art school in Dilijan. Without good drawing skills, you will not be able to get a good result in wood carving. In December 2016, the Hovhannes Sharambeyan Folk Art Museum in Dilijan awarded me the title: "People's master." The father, unfortunately, does not have this title (laughs). Well, then it was the 90s, a dark time. To be honest, I didn't really aspire to this title, but I had an artist friend who said "let's apply". Participants need to submit twenty of their own works for an anonymous expert evaluation.

Григор Овсепян

About favorite works

Most of all I like to make khachkars (stone crosses). Unfortunately, I rarely manage to find time for such laborious work, it can take a year, two, or even more. During this time I make large khachkars. For example, I made a copy of a 17th-century khachkar from the city of Djulfa (in Armenian Djuga, an Armenian city of the early Middle Ages on the territory of Nakhichevan). By the way, the master who made the original is also called Grigor. I also carved a copy of the khachkar from Haghpat. These works are appreciated not only by Armenians, but also by guests from different countries.

Most of the time, for 7 years, I spent on making khachkars from Goshavank. I carved out of wood every day, in small pieces. Unfortunately, I don't have this khachkar now, because there was a buyer in the USA who received it. It was my first serious work. It was very difficult.

Григор Овсепян

The most memorable event

I love Dilijan very much, and I spend more time in the workshop than at home. One of the most memorable events in our workshop happened in 1999, when volunteers of the American Peace Corps came to Dilijan. After visiting our workshop, they said they wanted to collect toys from around the world to decorate the Christmas tree at their headquarters, which is located in the White House. My father gave them three of his works, and they really hung on the Christmas tree in the White House. One of the “Christmas tree toys” was called "dagdagan" - it is a talisman against the evil eye, and the other two were a garnet and a cross.

If you decide to visit Dilijan, or rather Sharambeyan Street, be sure to visit my workshop. I am always glad to have guests.

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