The Scorpion, Irkutsk, Russia.

The Scorpion, Irkutsk, Russia

Irkutsk, a city of half a million inhabitants, still harbours a looming statue of Lenin in its centre. It’s one of the last Russian stops on the Trans-Siberian route: the increasingly Asian features of the people remind one that Asia is close. The main reason tourists stop off here is because it’s near Lake Baikal, one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes. The city also has an interesting history. It was known as ‘The Paris of Siberia’ in the early 20th century; numerous Decembrists, rebelling against the Tsar, many of whom were aristocrats and artists, were exiled here and turned Irkutsk into an intellectual centre.

The Scorpion caught my eye because he looks as if he’s about to sidle off for a quick smoke. He’s slightly sinister, with a sculpted eye watching out for undesirable rubbish droppers who could interfere with his intentions. The variety of dustbin in Irkutsk, in Ekaterinburg and by Lake Baikal amazed me. How could there be so many? Could it be that dissident artists were perhaps made to design dustbins as punishment, and that the creativity of their design lives on to this day?