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Ukrainian artist makes art helping refugees express their gratitude to hosts who provided shelter

Ukrainian artist paints a series showcasing the genuine bond forged between hosts and refugees during their stay.

Ukrainian artist makes art helping refugees express their gratitude to hosts who provided shelter
Cover Image Source: Instagram | @olhason_art

The Invasion Of Ukraine has set in motion a devastating time for many of its citizens. Many had to leave their homes and seek refuge in other places to save their lives. As per Migration Observatory, 174,000 Ukranians had to leave their homes and shift to the UK. Olha Son is one such person who found a roof over her head in the UK when her country was going up in flames. Therefore, when she got the opportunity to express her gratitude through paintings, she jumped at it, as per My Modern Met. These paintings showcase the hardships faced by Ukraine refugees during uncertain times, and the way the UK opened its arms to them when they needed it the most.

Representative Image Source: Pexels/ Photo by Ivan Bandura
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Ivan Bandura

Immediately after Ukraine's invasion, the Homes for Ukraine program started its effort to find safe places to stay for refugees. Through this program, interested sponsors were able to quickly get in touch with people in need. Several families were able to get their life started through this program and now after almost a year are preparing to move into their own houses in the UK. This experience has undoubtedly forged a strong bond between the sponsors and refugees, which Olha Son wants to reflect in her paintings.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Olha Son (@olhason_art)


 

Olha Son was managing her first exhibition when her homeland was invaded. She had to immediately take her daughter, and fly out from Odesa to the UK. Prior to flying out, she connected with her sponsor, Ffyona through Facebook. For 11 months Son and her daughter called Ffyona their family. Ffyona made sure that the mother and daughter did not feel any kind of discomfort and helped them with settling in the foreign country. They remained under one roof till Son's partner was able to join, and then moved to their new house in Bristol. These 11 months meant a lot to both the mother and the daughter as they found warmth and affection in an alien place from Ffyona.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Olha Son (@olhason_art)


 

Son got this idea when she received a request from another Ukranian refugee, to commission a painting that reflected her gratitude towards her UK hosts. As she and her client were on the same boat it did not take long for Son to complete the commission. “I brainstormed some ideas, and one of them was describing a girl in a gray coat who is holding an umbrella with a British flag over a girl sitting on the ground wearing clothes of the Ukrainian flag colors,” she shared. “I was in the same situation as my Ukrainian customer so it was very easy to depict this feeling of being sheltered from the war by the UK.”


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Olha Son (@olhason_art)


 

The commission turned into a series when Son uploaded it on Instagram. Many refugees turned up asking for similar paintings, depicting what they felt towards their host. One of her paintings showcases individuals in line arriving in the country. The other slide reveals a family waiting with umbrellas to protect and safeguard the refugees. The umbrellas symbolize the shelter and support the families have received, and the smiles on the hosts' faces indicate the honesty with which they helped their guests.

Image Source: Reddit/u/DanAykroydFanClub
Image Source: Reddit/u/DanAykroydFanClub

Kevin Kennedy Ryan and his wife Jessica Ryan-Smith were one of the hosts who received such a painting as a gift. They were given the painting by a family whom they welcomed in their Sheffield home. Talking about how they became hosts, Kevin shared, “One evening, we got a call out of the blue asking if we'd be open to having a family with a child. I think within a week, they had arrived at our door after a long drive across Europe." Dima and Tonya Mogylnyi stayed with them for nine months, celebrating many milestones together.

The couple had an emotional reaction to the painting, “We cried! We didn't expect anything, let alone something so personal and poignant. Also, incredibly impressed by just how well the artist painted our dog.” Kevin took to Reddit and shared the story. He wrote, “If you're able to help others—please do. I think for both my wife and myself, we'd like to think that if the shoe was on the other foot and we had to flee somewhere, we'd be able to rely on the kindness of strangers.”


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Olha Son (@olhason_art)


 

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