Ukrainian artist paints stark picture of ongoing war

A Ukranian refugee is creating art using items salvaged from the war zone in her home country

Yuliia Holovatiuk-Ungureanu

Yuliia Holovatiuk-Ungureanu salvaged items from the war zone in Ukraine for her art

My desire was always to serve the country, to do something for the people in Ukraine. My way of serving my country right now is to show this as an artist.

Yuliia Holovatiuk-Ungureanu, BA (Hons) Fine Art

Yuliia Holovatiuk-Ungureanu moved to the UK when the full scale Russian invasion began in 2022 and now studies BA (Hons) Fine Art at Staffordshire University. She recently returned to Ukraine, visiting the cities of Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kryvyi Rih, and Irpin.

Her installation My Voice is Hoarse from Pain featured in end of year show “Interim” this weekend, alongside the work of first and second year students from undergraduate Photography and Fine Art courses, as well as the MA Contemporary Arts Practice.

Items on display included fragments of shattered buildings, toys, and personal effects found in family homes destroyed during the Russian attacks in Ukraine.

A burned teddy bear, single high heeled shoe, and a battered copy of the bible are a poignant reminder of the many people who have fled their homes or been killed due to Russian attacks on Ukrainian cities.

36-year-old Yuliia, who now lives in Trent Vale, said: “It was very emotional going there and visiting these houses. You can't not be emotional. That was actually the reason why I wanted to go back there – to feel and to see what is happening right now with my own eyes.

“I think in the UK there is too little information about the war, especially in the art world. I really wanted to bring back artefacts from the war, because I think they speak for themselves.”

Among the items was an unbroken cup found among ruins of a multifamily house in Kharkiv, which was on fire for two days at the beginning of Russia's full scale invasion.

“For me, this cup, signifies the resilience of the Ukrainian people against Russian aggression, even though Ukraine is still in need of international support and protection of from the daily missile attacks,” Yuliia commented.

The installation included paper planes, fashioned from Ukrainian books, to represent the 535 children who have lost their lives during the war since February 2022.

Yuliia also retrieved art materials from the Mykhailo Boichuk Kyiv State Academy of Decorative Applied Arts and Design, which was subject of a Russian missile attack on 25 March 2024. Along with paints and canvases, she saved a flower that survived the attack.

Yuliia added: “My desire was always to serve the country, to do something for the people in Ukraine. My way of serving my country right now is to show this as an artist.

“I hope all these things which you see in this installation helps to show what is happening there and touches on what has been destroyed. The lives of families, whole families.”

 

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