Brought up in a working-class family in northeast England, Ruth
Addison spent five years working for the British Council in Cairo. She
moved to Russia to become deputy director of the organization’s Moscow
branch in 2002. after completing a part-time MA in art History, she ran a
gallery. Since 2015 she has been Chief Editor for Garage Museum of
Contemporary Art.

When I first came to Moscow I hated it, I absolutely hated it. I
didn’t want to leave Cairo, so that was part of the issue, and I kind
of knew some Russian but not very much. It was strange because I came
from a developing country to a European country. In Egypt, people speak a
little bit of English. I came here and was really surprised that people
don’t really speak English, so it was a real struggle. I was here on my
own and I felt quite isolated.

If you’re here for a while, you have to try to get out of purely expat circles. As
soon as I made some Russian friends, then I made some more. At first
sight they’re quite dour and unfriendly, but they’re not really, you
just need to make one friend, and then you’ve got a thousand.

I get friends to bring cheese, it’s the best ever gift. If
anyone’s traveling and they say “What do you want us to bring?” – bring
us cheese! I don’t even need anything like salami, but parmesan,
cheddar, I just ask friends to bring it. Or bring it myself. I always
bring in slightly under the five kilos that are allowed. I’ve had lots
of very heavy suitcases recently.

I’ve only been to Danilovsky
Market once, I didn’t really like it. I tend to go to Dorogmilovsky,
which is a bit closer to home for me. And there I usually buy Georgian
cheeses, so sulguni, and chanakh, smelly sheep’s cheese.