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Ukrainian refugees living in Preston express their emotions during an artwork project at UCLan

Posted on - 9th June, 2024 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Broughton, Deepdale, Education, Preston News, Proud Preston, UCLan, University campus
The eight refugees with their artwork. Pic: Sachin Rana
The eight refugees with their artwork. Pic: Sachin Rana

A group of Ukrainian refugees, living in Preston, have been able to express their feelings and emotions by creating artwork at an event at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Eight women, who fled their homes after the Russian invasion in February 2022 attended an event held by the University, where they were able to take part in a creative project which aimed to empower the local refugee community and build bridges with the local community.

Nataliia Plakhotnyk, 44, an English teacher, artist and mum of one, was one of those who took part. She left her city after her home was destroyed in the bombings.

Read more: Everest centenary exhibition co-designed by UCLan historian to explore hidden Sherpa stories

Nataliia Plakhotnyk’s artwork. Pic: Sachin Rana
Nataliia Plakhotnyk’s artwork. Pic: Sachin Rana

She was sponsored by a Preston couple and spent the first six months living in Broughton. Nataliia has now moved into a place of her own in Deepdale and has developed friendships with other Ukrainian refugees where she is able to use her language skills to help.

She said: “I try not to think about the war because it makes me sad.

“I have first-hand experience of it and I can’t stop it but I didn’t want to paint something about destruction because that doubles the pain.

“My first painting showed flowers emerging from a broken wall because flowers can grow in ruins, and they show the possibility of life after such tragedy. The other was a scene of the sea and sand because painting those scenes makes me happy.”

Read more: D-Day events in Preston, South Ribble and Chorley to mark 80th anniversary

The idea behind the art workshop, led by art therapist Katrina Lahmann was to bring the women together and allow them to express their feelings about how it feels to be Ukrainian today and their hopes for the future of their country.

It was organised by Dr Alexandros Koutsoukis as part of the project ‘Bridging Borders: Learning from Ukrainians’, which aims to learn from Ukrainians themselves rather than experts.

The artworks will be presented in Avenham Park, in Preston, on 15 June, as part of Refugee Week in collaboration with Homes for Ukraine.

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