Thursday’s inspiration: Olivia Arthur

Olivia Arthur, British, born in 1980 is a Magnum associate since 2011. I found her work really inspiring specially since she is young.

Her first book Jeddah Diary, about young women in Saudi Arabia, was published in 2012 I found it really interesting considering thae fact that she managed to break in a closed society as Saudi Arabia.

SAUDI ARABIA. Jeddah. A saudi woman poses in the kitchen in her abaya. 2009

What I mostly liked about her work is that she showed the contradictions in society shedding the light on the conservative side and liberals.

She began working as a photographer in 2003 after moving to Delhi and was based in India for two and a half years.

TURKEY. Istanbul. Getting ready for a wedding party. 2006.


IRAN. Tehran. Students during a break at an art college in Tehran. 2007


Olivia was born in London and grew up in the UK. She studied mathematics at Oxford University and photojournalism at the London College of Printing.

IRAN. Ramsar. A couple photograph themselves on their mobile phone in front of the Caspian Sea. 2007.


UGANDA. Amuria.

In 2006 she left for Italy to take up a one-year residency with Fabrica, during which she began working on a series about women and the East-West cultural divide. This work has taken her to the border between Europe and Asia, Iran and Saudi Arabia. She has recieved support from the Inge Morath Award, the National Media Museum, OjodePez-PhotoEspana Award for Human Values.

TURKEY. Istanbul. Girls who have dropped out of school because they refuse to remove their headscarves, as Turkey’s constitution says that they must. 2006.

In 2010 she co-founded Fishbar, a space for photography in London with Philipp Ebeling.


TURKEY. Istanbul. Girls at a summer school for learning to study the Koran. 2006.


She continues to return to India – where her long-term work has been supported by a grant from the Fondation Jean-Luc Lagadere in Paris – and to work in London where she lives.


AZERBAIJAN. Sumquait. Women mourn at a funeral gathering. 2006.


Olivia Arthur website