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Thurso artist realises her dream in US


By Will Clark


Life Raft depicts Katie in a state of despair after separating from her husband and being left to bring up her two daughters on her own in New York.
Life Raft depicts Katie in a state of despair after separating from her husband and being left to bring up her two daughters on her own in New York.

AFTER leaving Scotland for the Big Apple almost 20 years ago, a Thurso artist is set have to her work displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Katie O’Hagan has become an established name in the art world across the pond and beyond.

Since graduating from art school in 1993, she has gone on to become an award-winning artist, obtaining a number of prizes for her work.

But the 44-year-old is set to achieve her biggest accomplishment to date, by having one of her pieces hung in one of the best-known galleries in America for a year.

The piece, called Life Raft, is a life drawing of herself on a raft, depicting her in a state of despair after separating from her husband and being left to bring up her two daughters on her own in New York.

Her father, Danny O’Hagan, a retired social work manager, who plays in local folk band Clapshot, said Katie has always had a passion for art but has only realised her true potential in the last 10 years.

"She started drawing and painting when I owned the pub in Strathy and she did sketches of local people but in the last three or four years she has started to take up painting very seriously," he said.

"After she got her art degree at the University of Edinburgh she went straight to New York the next day when she found a job in a pub and a flat to stay in within 24 hours.

"She went on to work in various jobs including working for an advertising agency and ended up as a professional assistant to a multi-million-dollar businessman but she discovered that painting is all she wanted to do."

Ms O’Hagan, who lives in Beacon, New York, is no stranger to success.

Last year she was awarded first place in the Oil Painters of America online competition and her work was selected for the Artist’s Magazine 2012 calendar.

She is also a 2012 semi-finalist in the Smithsonian Outwin Boochever Portrait Contest, run by the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Mr O’Hagan had a hand in producing the piece of work that will be hanging up in the gallery as he collected the wood for the raft.

He is extremely proud of what Katie has achieved and said the support and inspiration she received at secondary school in Caithness helped her realise her dream.

"As a student at Thurso High School, she received a lot of support from her art teacher Fergus Mather – without his encouragement, she may not have carried on with her passion," he said.



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