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PRESS RELEASE: St John’s Cathedral Exhibits ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ by Olga Bakhtina


As a Russian growing up in the times of Glasnost and Perestroika, Olga Bakhtina is deeply worried about future of Russia with the suppression of freedom and the horrible invasion of Ukraine. Asked why she paints biblical scenes, Olga answers: “These works are really about humanity and what comes with it – the beautiful things in life like love, kindness, devotion, and sacrifice, but also the pain and tragedy – betrayal, greed, cruelty, and war. Look at the world, look at Ukraine. Has anything really changed since Biblical times?”
Brisbane, Australia – Brisbane artist Olga Bakhtina invites you to ‘Sailing to Byzantium,’ an exhibition that that blends the sacred art of the Early Renaissance and Byzantine periods with themes from William Butler Yeats’ poem. Running from June 29th to August 13th at Saint John’s Anglican Cathedral, this exhibition promises to captivate visitors with its profound blend of spiritual and artistic exploration.
Exhibition Details:
Title: Sailing to Byzantium
Artist: Olga Bakhtina
Venue: Saint John’s Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane
Dates: June 29th to August 13th
Entry: Free
Relevance and Insight:
Reflecting on why she paints biblical scenes, Olga says: “People who’ve known me for a while, often ask me why I started painting biblical scenes. The answer is simple: it is a response to what is happening in the world around us – especially the last few years. Just the other day, there was a terrible attack on a children’s hospital in Kiev. Children who were already fighting cancer, their families, as well as doctors and nurses were killed and injured. When you hear news like this, you think of the Massacre of the Innocent. When we think of all the refugees in the different parts of the world who have to leave everything behind and flee with their children it reminds you of the story shown in Flight into Egypt. And St George and the Dragon? That is the Christian allegory of the battle between good and evil, that we see everywhere in the world. I think if you look at the paintings, you will see that they are not just about the Bible. Or the past. I believe, art is not wallpaper. It’s not decoration. It never was, and it should never become mere decoration. Art is about sharing stories. About human connection.
As someone once said: Art is the highest form of hope. I like that. Because we need hope in this world. Like in Annunciation. We need love, like in Madonna and Child. We need kindness like in the Good Samaritan. So each of the works here, tells a story. A story that is still so relevant in our modern lives.”
Exhibition Overview:
The exhibition title comes from W.B. Yeats’ poem Sailing to Byzantium, which speaks of the quest for eternal beauty and spiritual transcendence. In the poem, Byzantium symbolizes an ideal world of artistic and intellectual perfection, a place where the soul finds peace beyond the physical. This idea connects deeply with the spiritual essence of Early Christian art, where every detail holds profound religious meaning.
Drawing from Yeats’ exploration of eternal beauty and spiritual transcendence, Olga Bakhtina’s ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ delves into the depths of love, devotion, sacrifice, and human frailty. Each piece is a visual meditation, rich with symbolic detail and profound religious meaning, inviting viewers to reflect on their own spiritual journey. Olga’s art transcends mere depiction of Biblical scenes, seeking to find answers and offer hope through powerful visual narratives.
Archbishop Jeremy Greaves delivered a beautiful speech at the opening night on July 11th, with a glowing review of Olga Bakhtina’s work.
“Through my art, I strive to bridge the ancient stories of Christianity and our modern society, reflecting on the timeless human experiences that connect us all,” says Olga Bakhtina.
Artist’s Background:
Olga Bakhtina, an award-winning Brisbane artist, has been captivating audiences with her evocative oil and charcoal works for over 15 years. From her early studies in the Sultanate of Oman to her current scholarly pursuits in Art History at the University of Queensland, Olga’s work reflects a deep passion for Early Renaissance art, infusing her pieces with serene beauty and profound inspiration.
Since her first solo exhibition in 2012, Olga has exhibited regularly across Australia. Her more recent solo exhibitions include ‘Inner Garden, Secret Garden’ at LEDA Gallery in Newcastle, ‘Good Samaritan and other Biblical Stories’ at Saint John’s Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane, and ‘Olive Branch’ at the Cathedral of St Stephen in Brisbane as part of its 150th Anniversary celebration.
Notable Publications and Media:
Olga’s art has received national and international recognition, with features in prestigious publications:
• ‘The Double: Identity and Difference in Art since 1900,’ published by the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., USA.
• ‘Gospel Themes in Paint,’ and in-depth article on Olga’s Christianity inspired works by Australian Catholic Liturgical Art, published by the National Liturgical Architecture and Art Council, https://art.catholic.org.au/2021/12/23/gospel-themes-in-paint/
• Brisbane Archdiocese video series ‘Art Aficionados,’ analysed Olga’s work ‘Good Samaritan’ held in their private collection, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iR4QrMzevQ&list=PL8-1Dil2Zzb8LrLZWCUYCObO9zxAyXp9u
• ‘Local artist shares her prayer life on canvas in Cathedral precinct’, published in The Catholic Leader, https://catholicleader.com.au/culture/local-artist-shares-her-prayer-life-on-canvas-in-cathedral-precinct-this-weekend/
Olga has been the finalist and winner of multiple Australian Art awards, including COSSAG (Cathedral of Saint Stephen Art Group) Award in 2016 and 2018. Her works are held in prestigious collections such as the Archdiocese of Brisbane, the Australian Catholic University, and international private collections.
Visit and Contact:
For those interested in experiencing Olga Bakhtina’s profound and inspiring works, ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ is a must-visit exhibition this season. High-resolution images of the artwork are available upon request. For more information or to schedule an interview with Olga Bakhtina, please visit www.olgabakhtina.com/byzantium or contact Olga via the details below.
Name: Olga Bakhtina
Email: [email protected] Phone: +61 410 197 946
END
Images: https://olgabakhtina.com/byzantium/
About Olga Bakhtina:
Olga Bakhtina is a Brisbane-based artist whose works in oil and charcoal capture the profound spiritual and human themes of Early Renaissance and Byzantine art. She is a student of the History of Art at the University of Queensland and has exhibited extensively across Australia and internationally.
Media Contacts:Name: Olga BakhtinaCompany: Olga BakhtinaEmail: [email protected]Phone: 0410 197 946Share:FacebookPinLinkedInEmailTweet

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