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“My Father: Ivan Polunin”
An Evening with Daughter Olga Polunin

7pm Monday, 30 July 2018
82 Cairnhill Road
Singapore 229684


Dr Ivan Vladimirovitch Polunin (1920–2010) was born on 12th December 1920, to an English mother and a Russian father, both respected painters for Diaghilev’s Russian ballet. He studied medicine at Oxford and came to Southeast Asia in 1948, where he joined the Department of Social Medicine and Public Health at the University of Malaya, which then became the National University of Singapore. He married his wife Fam Siew Yin, a Singaporean, and settled down in Singapore as a permanent resident and ultimately retired as an associate professor from the University of Singapore in December 1980. He was a passionate scholar and to many of his students, a legend who taught them with great insight, the quintessential absent-minded professor who included many extra dimensions to their course, including visits upriver to explore remote kampongs and to study fireflies. To his colleagues, he was a polymath with deep interest and knowledge in many fields, such as medicine, natural history, firefly research, cinematography, photography and ethnomusicology.

Dr Ivan Polunin was also a lover and collector of art and antiques and through his extensive travels, he was able to collect art from many cultures, including statues, porcelain, beads, jewelry, jades, paintings and textiles. His great love though, was always ceramics and he started collecting them seriously and almost exclusively in the early eighties. Over the years, he amassed an immense collection, converting the whole basement floor of his home into his ‘dungeon museum’.


About Olga Marie Polunin

Olga Marie Polunin, second daughter of Dr Ivan Polunin, is a Singaporean painter living in Europe. She accompanied her father on several of his collecting trips, where he would select pieces for his collection. She will describe her memories of her father as a collector and his vision behind his collection. When their father died in 2010, Olga and her sister Nadya decided not to break the collection apart, but to keep it intact in their family home, where it still is today.

This event is open to only SEACS members. Please RSVP to seacs.secretary@gmail.com as space is limited. The program will begin at 7pm and end at approximately 9pm. Parking is very difficult along Cairnhill Road, and members are encouraged to come by public transport or taxi. The closest MRT station is Orchard or Newton, which is only a 10-minute walk away from this event venue.