Project by Varvara Shavrova for the Elizarovs’ Apartment Museum

In her recent project Mapping Fates, artist Varvara Shavrova brings to life her own and her family history by using historical photographs that become templates for tapestries, woven fabrics and textile art works and a sound track that is based on some stories that have been passed down from generation to generation, and occasional letters that survived wars and conflicts.


Shavrova‘s practice is focused on excavating layers of her own and her family history through the process of remembering, recalling, retracing, re-enacting stories that are assembled into a visual montage, and where a collective notion of ‘a history’ is explored through an individual perception of ‘a past’. Through the perspective of one family that was living in Georgia and Russia, we are invited to explore some of the key themes in the history of Eurasia in the 20th century: dispossession, migration, immigration and loss of identity experienced by Shavrova’s ancestors at the turn of the last century are mirrored by almost identical crisis experienced worldwide today – poverty, wars, global migration, refugee crisis, redefinition of borders, redistribution of world power and creation of new dominant geopolitical order.



In the context of the festival, Shavrova‘s project interferes with the exhibits at the Elizarovs museum, a beautifully preserved 5 room apartment that was the home of Lenin’s sister Anna Ulyanova and her husband Mark Elizarov, and from April to July, 1917 also of Vladimir Lenin and Nadezhda Krupskaya. The everyday objects of the Elizarov museum (furniture, photographs, a chess set, Lenin’s wheel chair, photographs) that are part of one family history at the turn of last century are contextualized by the re-traced history of another family – Shavrova’s – with a completely different historical and personal fate.

Varvara Shavrova (Russia – Ireland)

Varvara Shavrova (Russia – Ireland)

Originally from Moscow, Varvara Shavrova first came to London in 1990 as a Fellow of the Florence Trust in North London, where she received a three-year studio bursary, followed by a stint at the Barbican Arts Group Trust, in Hackney. Another Fellowship followed at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in a rural Irish village of Ballycastle, County Mayo, in 1999, and since then Shavrova was invited back as a Returning Fellow, in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. In 2003 Shavrova acquired a derelict cottage in Kilbride, that was restored, and a separate studio was built on site, where Shavrova started working in early 2004.



In 2005 Shavrova moved to live and work in China with her young family, where she stayed till 2010, and then returning back to her studio in rural Ireland. Over the years Shavrova created a number of landmark projects that engage with the landscape and history of the Irish county of North Mayo, including the painting and drawing exhibition Inscriptions: Painting the Line, Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston University, touring to James Hockey Gallery, University of Surrey, UK; Model Arts Centre Sligo, Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar and Courthouse Gallery, Ballinglen Arts Foundation (2000-2001); Landscape Fossilised, exhibition of vitreous enamels, drawings and paintings at Patrick Heide Art Projects, London and touring to Mayo General Hospital and Ceide Fields Visitor Centre (2004).


Shavrova’s internationally acclaimed multi-media project Untouched (2006-2009) includes photography installation, book publication and a documentary film looking at unlikely connections between rural communities in Ballycastle and in Old Beijing. The project was exhibited at the Beijing Museum of Imperial City as part of the First Festival of Irish Culture in Beijing held during Beijing 2008 Olympics, at the St. Patrick’s Culture and Arts Festival in Shanghai, toured to City Museum and Art Gallery in Galway during Galway Arts Festival in 2009, and to Ballina Arts Centre in 2012.


Shavrova’s other landmark project, Borders (2006-2015), was exhibited at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA), at the Museum of the History of St.Petersburgh (2007), and at the Galway International Arts Festival in Ireland (2015).


The Opera (2010-2012) multi-media installation was commissioned and premiered at the Espacio Cultural El Tanque in Tenerife, Spain (2011), and was subsequently shown at the Gallery of Photography, Ireland (2012) and at the Temple Hotel and Venue in Beijing (2016), among many other locations. Shavrova was invited to curate the exhibition of Ireland’s Former President Mary Robinson’s Archive in Ballina Library in 2015.


Shavrova has two teenage sons, she lives and works in Dublin, London and Ballycastle, and is currently studying for her MFA postgraduate degree at Goldsmiths College London.

The Elizarovs’ Apartment Museum
Branch of the Smolny State Historical and Memorial Museum

The Elizarovs’ Apartment Museum is located in a tenement house built in 1913. The apartment was owned by the engineer Mark Elizarov who was Lenin’s older sister Anna’s husband. Besides the Elizarovs the apartment accommodated Lenin’s younger sister Maria Ilyinichna Ulyanova and his mother Maria Alexandrovna Ulyanova who spent here her last years and died in 1916.



Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and his wife Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya moved into the apartment upon their return from the Swiss exile in April 1917. During three months spent by Lenin in the Elizarovs’ apartment, he wrote 170 works. Here the meetings of the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party were held and many Bolsheviks attended them. The apartment was converted into Museum in 1927, its exposition being dedicated to life of a city intellectual of the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century. The permanent exhibit tells about the life of the Ulyanovs-Elizarovs family.


Address: 52 Ulitsa Lenina, Apt. 24

Closest metro station: Chkalovskaya

Tel.: +7 (812) 235-3778

Museum hours: Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday 10:00 – 18:00
Wednesday 13:00 – 20:00

Closed: Thursday, Friday