STALLS FOYER GALLERY
Ukrainian artist Oleksandra Novatska’s exhibition explores how it felt to leave everything and everyone you love behind and start again, finding a new role, in a new life.
The exhibition features striking full length portraits of her daughter representing Great Britain, Scotland and Ukraine, and other works, on paper scrolls, symbolising the Ukrainian tradition of embroidering towels with the tree of life and elements of family history.
Below, Oleksandra gives context to her journey from Ukraine to Scotland and how it shaped her artistic practice.
At first there was no colour and everything seemed to be in shades of grey but the colour started to reappear and that was the beginning of my recovery.
My story is one of more than six million stories of Ukrainian women and children, who were forced to leave their homes in search of safety and security. I packed my whole life in the car boot and we went to an unknown. It was a difficult solution in which I, Mum, should protect my child and her dad protects Ukraine.
My daughter and I traveled a long journey of 4000 kilometres across Europe, leaving behind everything and everyone we loved. Who are we now? Did I leave part of me behind?
We are trying to recreate a past life but deep down we understand that everything has changed. My life - our lives - will never be the same again regardless of whether we create a new home here in Scotland or in our previous homes in Ukraine, because the war has destroyed everything that made our lives there.
It's hard to accept, words can’t describe these feelings. The war broke all of our lives into fragments and I’m trying to piece them back together. This is a new world. Here we have to create our whole life from scratch. We try new roles. Are we trying to find ourselves? What will I be now?
When life is challenging I return to true values, which are simple and clear. Life is priceless and it is important to fulfil one’s desire to make a lasting contribution to society.
I am an artist and before the war I painted flowers and loved my life. My mindset fluctuates between happiness and despair. After the invasion I tried to draw flowers but I couldn't. I did not have bright joyful emotions that I could share with people. On one of those hard days, I took a pencil in my hand and automatically started shading with black.
This is how this story began, from these black strokes the artworks "Great Britain", "Scotland" and "Ukraine" appeared. At first there was no colour and everything seemed to be in shades of grey but the colour started to reappear and that was the beginning of my recovery.
Since ancient times, women in Ukraine have been embroidering towels. This is an old tradition which has been passed down from generation to generation. The tree of life, family history was embroidered on these towels. Therefore, it is logical for me to place part of the exhibition on paper scrolls. These scrolls symbolize our traditional embroidered towels on which I tell our story.
I would like to thank everybody who helped and supported us on our journey to our new home here in Scotland, where we received a warm welcome. The people here care about us and our feeling of safety has been restored. We feel safe.
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