Living in a city can be an isolating experience, and London is no exception. Despite all the connectivity of the digital age, sometimes we can feel most connected to each other through a simpler, older form of expression: Art.
Olya Dobrovolska is a London-based artist who is using her talents to connect with children and adults alike. After graduating from the Ukrainian Academy of Printing in Lviv, she moved to London to continue her career as an artist. Her art is fantastical and nostalgic, and offers something that both children and adults can enjoy, from precise still-lifes and portraits to charming, surreal images, such as a googly-eyed red dragon fishing off London Bridge.
Recently I spoke with Olya about her mission to use her art to bring people across London together and how much this art means to her.
“So, art takes a very important place in my life. I paint all my life’s consciousness and I don’t remember wanting to do anything else. Being an artist in the modern world is not easy, but you have to stand your ground, and even if you find it difficult, you just have to never give up. And only in this case can you feel happy.”
As well as making her art, Olya wants to use her skills to help children make their own. According to child psychologists art is a valuable way for children to process their world, to deal with sometimes scary emotions in a safe way, and to help build their critical sensory faculties. But for the kids themselves, art is simply fun, and Olya is helping children across London to experience it.
“Previously I was an art teacher in Ukraine in art school. But now I give lessons in London, because a lot of children want to be an artist and all of these young artists are very talented. I like to quote the example that artists are ‘children who survived’. That is, every adult artist still retains a part of their childhood vision, so it’s easy and fun to teach my little students. I try to explain to the children the basic notions of all kinds and styles of creativity.”
Not all art is universal, but Olya tries to make sure that hers is appealing to everyone. Through her exhibitions and website, she uses her warm, engaging style to open people up to the possibilities of artistic expression. By doing this she has helped make friends across the world, and hopes to continue to spread this positivity across London as well.
“When I take part in various exhibitions, for me selling works is not the main purpose, although when my paintings find their new home I am very happy. But it’s an incredible feeling when a lot of people are gathered around your works and you can listen to what they say or think about it, and when different people see different stories in the same pictures it’s great. These things make me paint more and more. At past exhibitions, I met many different people from around the world: now I have friends from Croatia, Germany, Australia, Poland and many other countries, and this is an incredible experience. Now I want to find good and interesting people in my area to be able to share their art with them.”
What’s often lost in the modern flurry of Facebook feeds and Twitter tweets is that we have the means now to be more connected than ever, but unfortunately many find it hard to truly connect with each other. By offering adults an escape into her colourful worlds, and helping young people create their own, Olya is showing that having the courage to express oneself can lead to many great things, as well as helping the next generation find the skills to do so. She shows that expression can be therapeutic, fun and above all positive; and by sharing our expression with the world we can bring that positivity out in others too.
A collection of Olya’s work can be found on her website. Olya is also mounting an exhibition called Impressions at Caxton House Community Centre. The exhibition is free and will be open from 3-9pm on April 27 and 11am 5pm on April 28 at Caxton House Community Centre, 129 St John’s Way, Archway, N19.