Anna Kozyrenko

(artist's grandmother)

It has beed said that the hardest person to know is yourself. As an artist, my experience is that the hardest task is portraying someone you love. There is so much information about someone whom you know very well that it is challenging to decide what side of their personality to choose.

Being born in 1910 in Russia, my grandmother lived through the revolution and two wars; a life with plenty of hardship, trials and losses. As a child, I was listening to her stories about how she escaped certain death during the war, leaving Leningrad with my newborn mother just days before the blockade of the city started.

I also heard how, during the German occupation and hunger that followed, my infant mother only survived because German soldiers fed her part of their rations – because my mother was blonde and reminded them of their own children back home.

She lost her brother, father and husband during the same war;  I marvel at what strength it took her to live through all that and still be as positive and full of energy as I will always remember her.

All her life she worked as a primary school teacher and she loved her children almost as much as she loved her own. She dedicated so much passion to her work and it must have paid off, because I could remember her former pupils returning as architects, writers, engineers, bringing her flowers and thanks for her care.

She taught  them to believe in the importance of learning and believing in themselves – the same that she taught me.


Oil on canvas

48 x 50cm


Selected Artwork


Commissioned Portraits