Olga Geoghegan, now based in London, was born in Ukhta in the far North of Russia in 1965.  Ukhta was founded in the 1930's as the administrative centre for Stalin’s Northern prison camps, but paradoxically, this was a fortuitous place for a budding artist to be born. Whole cultural institutions had been deported from the political centres of Moscow and Leningrad to these prison towns, and in Ukhta's case the entire Maly Opera and Ballet Theatre was exiled to the city. As a result, Ukhta was home to a thriving art scene and Olga was taught from the age of six by graduates of the Leningrad (now St Petersburg) Academy of Arts.

 

At the age of ten she was accepted into the Special Secondary Artistic boarding school in Leningrad attached to the Academy, more than 1,000 miles from home. Olga studied at this school until she was eighteen and was subsequently offered a place at the Leningrad Academy, probably Russia's most prestigious art institution, founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and situated across the River Neva from the world famous Hermitage museum.

 

In the early 90s, soon after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, she was one of the first Russian painters to be invited to exhibit in Western Europe with successful exhibitions taking place in London and Vienna. She has subsequently exhibited on more than ten further occasions in London (including at the Royal Drawing School and Messums) as well as in Scotland, Spain, USA and, of course,  Russia. Some of her work is included in one of the standard drawing textbooks for art students in Russia and her work is found in collections all over the world.

 

 "People have very different life experiences," she says, "but their humanity is constant, wherever they are from and whatever era they have lived through."