OCA student wins a Saatchi Showdown prize


OCA student Alexandra Gallagher, working towards a degree with us, has just won a prestigious prize with the Saatchi Gallery. Runner up in the Saatchi Showdown Competition online with the theme Surrealism, Alex produced a stunning photo collage using one of her daughters as a model.

Alex laughed as she told me she found a wonderful creepy house to photograph near her home, and said to her daughter ‘I’ll give you some chocolate if you stand in front of it so that I can photograph you there’ though her daughter admits that she loves playing ‘ghost girl’. She gets 500 dollars worth of prize money as her reward from Saatchi and her image displayed in the Saatchi Gallery. Alex says she has only be focusing on art in earnest for the past six or seven years, after a lull after she completed her BTEC award in art and design a few years ago. She fits in her art around caring for two daughters, working when they are at school or after they’ve gone to bed; though often her daughters get involved in her work one way or another, mostly as models. (There are a few images of her daughter on the Saatchi website). Her dining room has become her studio. She says she has to frantically go round clearing things away if she has visitors, hiding her art materials behind a screen.

Alex’s work is very varied, but what is striking is that she has good technical skills across a range, and is bursting with creativity. She sees the range of her practice as a bit of a problem, (she paints in acrylics and oils, figuratively and abstract, and latterly has favoured surrealism and digital collages, picking up a camera for her 30th birthday and Photoshop skills from her husband). She admits to finding it hard to discipline herself to stick to one thing. ‘I like experimentation, so am always going off on a tangent’, she says. She came to OCA to do a degree in order to find her voice and to get out of a rut when she felt her work was getting boring and stale. What is refreshing is Alex’s hunger for learning ‘You’ve got to keep learning’ she says, ‘and looking too’. Alex finds inspiration all around her, thinks a lot of street art is ‘genius’ like the artist who is turning trainers into gas masks, and the person she’s found who is filling cracks in walls with pieces of lego.

OCA is delighted that Alex has won this prize and thinks this is the beginning of greater things to come. Well done Alex! Alex has a blog here.


  1. vicki 6 August 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Well done Alex! Thrilled for you; and this gives us all encouragement. Off to look at your blog now.

  2. Jereme 6 August 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Wow, well done Alex!!!

  3. Fiona Coulter 7 August 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Well done Alex, your work is extraordinary, beautiful and inspiring.

  4. Eileen 10 August 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Congratulations Alex.

  5. Tanya 12 August 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Congrats Alex – Your daughters are certainly going to have an interesting photo album of their youth!

  6. Linda Khatir (curriculum leader - Fine Art) 16 August 2012 at 6:17 pm

    keep experimenting Alex – deviating from the norm is definitely not a problem! I hope other students will become inspired by your success

  7. Olivia Irvine 16 August 2012 at 11:44 pm

    ‘You’ve got to keep learning- and looking too’. This is very true and not just for students. Many ‘established’ artists churn out the same stuff year in, year out. Not all, of course, but it takes courage to learn something new.

  8. Anne Linehan 25 August 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Well done Alex! Keep looking for inspiration.


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