Varvara Keidan Shavrova

Blankets Project  2018-2019, Eight felt blankets, screen print, metal hinges. 180cm x 220cm each
This is the project about migration and borders, belonging and alienation, statelessness and trauma. As part of The Sea is the Limit project I made a series of eight printed felt blankets that reflect on the experience of being a migrant. The blankets are conceived as an interactive installation, where the participants are invited to wear the blankets in the exhibition space as an act of sharing and empathy. Picture: Anthony Chappel-Ross

Varvara Keidan Shavrova is a visual artist, curator, educator and researcher. Born in the USSR, she lives and works between London, Dublin and Berlin. She studied at the Moscow State University of Printing Arts, received her MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London, and has been awarded Arts & Humanities Research Council Studentship by London Arts & Humanities Partnership, to conduct her practice-based PhD at the Royal College of Art in London.

She has exhibited internationally, including at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, Gallery of Photography Ireland, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Espacio Cultural El Tanque, Tenerife.Shavrova curated international visual arts projects, including The Sea is the Limit at York Art Gallery (2018) and Virginia Commonwealth University, Qatar (2019), and co-curated Beijing Map Games: Dynamics of Change , an international art and architecture exhibition in Beijing (China), Birmingham (UK) and Terni (Italy). 

She is the recipient of the National Lottery Arts Council of England Project Awards (2019-2020 and 2020-2021), the Arts Council Ireland Visual Arts Bursary Award (2021), and the Prince’s Trust Individual Artist’s Award, among others. Her work is included in a number of public and private collections worldwide, including at the Department of the Foreign Affairs and Trade of Ireland, at the Office of Public Works art collection in Dublin, at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation collection in County Mayo, and at the Museum of the History of St.Petersburg in Russia. Shavrova is represented by Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London.

Inna’s Dream. 2019 Hand tufted Axminster wool carpet objects, digital embroidery on velvet, acrylic and emulsion on wall. 7 m x 5.5 m x 4 m. In 1930 my great uncle, Vadim Borisovitch Shavrov, a well-known Soviet engineer and author, designed and built the first Soviet amphibious plane Sh-2 in his apartment in Petrograd. Between 1934 and 1964 the Sh-2 flying boat was used by the agricultural, medical and military sectors, as well as in exploration of the Arctic. In my recent installation Inna’s Dream, I reinterpret the Sh-2 by rendering it in carpet and textiles. This demilitarized and domesticized version of a deflated military machine echoes the collapsed Soviet dreamworld, while the materials I use comment on women’s labour.
The Palace of the Soviets and King Kong. 2020 Digital knitting, hand stitching and embroidery, wool and synthetic thread. 122cm x 255 cm In these recent works that created during the lockdown, I am questioning the symbols of global power and authority by juxtaposing iconic images from movie stills and archival documents associated with the Communist and the Capitalist empirical architecture, the Palace of the Soviets and the Empire State Building. I employ methodologies of knitting, stitching and embroidery, to physically interlink the historically opponent political narratives that appear uncannily similar.
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