LAHP Studentship 2021

2021

Varvara Shavrova is a visual artist born in the USSR who lives and works between London, Dublin and Berlin. Shavrova’s practice is focused on excavating the layers of her family’s history through the process of remembering, recalling, retracing and re-enacting stories.  In engaging memory, nostalgia and reflection, Shavrova creates installations that make connections between historic and current narratives, between the archival and the present.

In her work, Shavrova examines the symbols of power and authority whilst investigating their relationship to the individual. The process of empathy is the means of materializing the past into the present. The materiality of Shavrova’s installations is a comment on women’s labour, and include objects made of paper, thread, yarn and fabric, with methodologies of drawing, digital printing, tufting and weaving.

In the installation Inna’s Dream Shavrova reinterprets the first Soviet amphibious aeroplane designed by her great uncle in 1930s. The demilitarised and domesticized version of a deflated military machine echoes the collapsed Soviet dream of the powerful and the ‘high flying’. The infantile giant toy kit becomes symbolic of capitulated militarism that challenges the core symbols of masculinity and power.

 

Shavrova studied at the Moscow State University of Printing Arts, and received her Masters in Fine Arts from Goldsmiths, University of London.  Shavrova’s recent project Inna’s Dream reinterprets the first Soviet amphibious aeroplane designed by her great uncle in 1930s, and includes tufted carpet objects and site-specific drawings installation at Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London (2019). Mapping Fates, multi-media installation reflects on Shavrova’s family migration, and includes tapestries and sound, shown in Lenin’s apartment in St. Petersburg (2017). Shavrova’s project The Opera portrays the gender fluidity in traditional Peking opera. It received international acclaim and included photography, sound and video projections, and was shown at The Temple Beijing (2016), Momentum Berlin (2016), the Gallery of Photography Ireland (2014), the Venice Biennale of Architecture (2014) and at Espacio Cultural El Tanque in Santa Cruz de Tenerife (2011). Shavrova received awards from the Arts Council England, Arts Council Ireland, Culture Ireland, British Council, Ballinglen Arts Foundation, and The Prince’s Trust. Shavrova curated international visual arts projects, including The Sea is Limit exhibition at York Art Gallery (2018) and at Virginia Commonwealth University Arts Qatar Gallery in Doha (2019), examining migration, borders and refugee crisis, Giving Voice exhibition of Mary Robinson’s presidential archive in Ballina library in County Mayo, and Map Games: Dynamics of Change, international art and architecture project, at Today Art Museum Beijing, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, CAOS Centre for Contemporary Arts, Terni, Italy (2008-2010). Shavrova’s works are included in the collections of the Office of Public Works, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Momentum Collection Berlin, the Ballinglen Museum of Contemporary Art, Minsheng Art Museum Beijing, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of the History of St. Petersburg. Shavrova’s work is represented by Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, London.

Inna’s Dream | 2019

 

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Inna’s Dream

2019

Hand tufted Axminster wool carpet objects, hessian canvas backing, thread, relief print and acrylic drawings on walls

Overall dimensions 7 metres by 5.5 metres by 3 metres

Installation at Patrick Heide Contemporary Art London

 

In engaging memory, nostalgia and reflection, I create installations that give a current validity to history. The first Soviet amphibious aeroplane that was designed by my great uncle in the Soviet Union in 1930s is scaled down and re-made as a three-dimensional textile object. This is a demilitarised and domesticized representation of a deflated military machine, the collapsed dream of the powerful and the ‘high flying’, the infantile giant toy kit symbolic of capitulated militarism that challenges the core symbolism of masculinity and power.

 
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unnamed

Inna’s Dream    2019  (detail)

 

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Inna’s Dream 

2019

11 drawings, acrylic on wallpaper, metal pins. Overall dimensions 7 metres by 7 metres by 3 metres. Installation at Patrick Heide Contemporary Art

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Inna’s Dream

 2019

Hand tufted Axminster wool carpet objects, hessian canvas backing, thread, digital embroidery on velvet, steel support, acrylic and emulsion on wall.

7 metres by 5.5 metres x 4 metres. Installation at Goldsmiths MFA Degree show, Laurie Grove Baths, London

Photo: Corey Sanderson

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Inna’s Dream

 2019

Hand tufted Axminster wool carpet objects, hessian canvas backing, thread, digital embroidery on velvet, steel support, acrylic and emulsion on wall.

7 metres by 5.5 metres x 4 metres. Installation at Goldsmiths MFA Degree show, Laurie Grove Baths, London

Photo: Corey Sanderson

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Inna’s Dream (detail)

 2019

Threads of Surveillance | 2020

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The Palace of the Soviets and King Kong.

2020

Digital knitting, hand stitching and embroidery, wool and synthetic thread

122 cm x 255 cm

 

In these recent works 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.

https://vimeo.com/438851207

 

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The Palace of the Soviets and King Kong (detail)

2020

Digital knitting, hand stitching and embroidery, wool and synthetic thread

122 cm x 255 cm

 

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Monument to Cosmos

2020

Digital knitting, hand stitching and embroidery, wool and synthetic thread

100cm x 178cm

WhatsApp Image 2021-01-29 at 21.02.04

Soft Drones .

2020

Series of 10 pieces

Hand stitching and embroidery

25cm x 30cm, 25cm x 35cm, 30cm x 35cm

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Soft Drones.

2020

Hand stitching and embroidery.

25cm x 30cm

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Soft Drones.

2020

Hand stitching and embroidery.

25cm x 35cm. 30cm x 35cm

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Soft Drones.

2020

Hand stitching and embroidery.

25cm x 35cm

 

 

Blankets Project | 2018-2019

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Blankets Project

2018

Eight felt blankets, screen print, metal hinges

Overall dimensions 10 metres 1.9 metres by 20cm

The Sea is the Limit exhibition at York Art Gallery, installation view

 

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.

 

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Blankets Project

2019

Eight felt blankets, screen print, metal hinges

Overall dimensions 10 metres 1.9 metres by 20cm

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The Sea is the Limit exhibition curated by Varvara Shavrova at VCU Arts Qatar. 2019

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The Sea is the Limit exhibition at Virginia Commonwealth University Gallery Qatar, installation view

 

 

Mapping Fates | 2017

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Mapping Fates

2017

Hand loomed jacquard tapestries, wool, silk, thread, photographs, objects, sound

Vladimir Lenin’s apartment in St.Petersburg, installation view

Facts and Fictions ProArte14 festival of contemporary art in traditional museums, St. Petersburg

 

‘Installation featuring texts, textiles, poetry and sound at the apartment where Vladimir Lenin lived in St. Petersburg. Using the archival material from my Russian and Georgian families, I interweave the private and the public narrative, creating a complex web of stories and perceptions, facts and fictions, realities and dreams. Commissioned by ProArte14 festival of contemporary art in traditional museums, St. Petersburg’

 

https://vimeo.com/247702790

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Mapping Fates

2017

Hand loomed jacquard tapestries, wool, silk, thread, photographs, objects, sound

Vladimir Lenin’s apartment in St.Petersburg, installation view

Facts and Fictions ProArte14 festival of contemporary art in traditional museums, St. Petersburg

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Mapping Fates

2017

Hand loomed jacquard tapestries, wool, silk, thread, photographs, objects, sound

Vladimir Lenin’s apartment in St.Petersburg, installation view

Facts and Fictions ProArte14 festival of contemporary art in traditional museums, St. Petersburg

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Mapping Fates

2017

Hand loomed jacquard tapestries, wool, silk, thread, photographs, objects, sound

Vladimir Lenin’s apartment in St.Petersburg, installation view

Facts and Fictions ProArte14 festival of contemporary art in traditional museums, St. Petersburg

 

The Opera | 2010-2016

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The Opera. Three Transformations.
2010-2016

3 min 41 sec
HD video projection with sound, looped
Exhibited at the 2014 Venice Biennale of Architecture. Part of Momentum Collection

The Opera is an insight into the fragile world of the Peking Opera, one of the most revered artforms of the Chinese national scene. The work focuses on the transformation from male to female, and from female to male, of the Peking Opera artists. Balancing moments of pure visuality with behind the scenes footage, the video underscores the striking avantgardist qualities of this most traditional of artforms. The Opera is accompanied by a specially commissioned score by composer Benoit Granier which incorporates elements of traditional Chinese and contemporary electronic music. Commissioned by Espacio Cultural El Tanque, Tenerife and Gallery of Photography, Ireland in collaboration with Temple Beijing, Momentum Berlin and Patrick Heide Contemporary Art London.

https://vimeo.com/124918980

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The Opera
2010-2016

21 min 23 sec
Video still
HD video projection with sound, looped

https://vimeo.com/124910690

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The Opera.

2011.

6-screen HD video projection with sound.

Installation at Espacio Cultural El Tanque. Tenerife

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The Opera. Three Transformations.

2016

HD outdoor projection with sound.

Installation at Temple, Beijing