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Wednesday September 28, 2022

Ukraine children recount invasion through art

A woman's portrait painted in blue and yellow -- the colours of the Ukrainian flag -- and streaked with blood-red paint is among 300 pictures by Ukrainian children displayed in a Kyiv bomb shelter

By AFP
July 09, 2022
The exhibition opened on Friday in a Kyiv bomb shelter. Photo: AFP
The exhibition opened on Friday in a Kyiv bomb shelter. Photo: AFP

KYIV: A woman´s portrait painted in blue and yellow -- the colours of the Ukrainian flag -- and streaked with blood-red paint is among 300 pictures by Ukrainian children displayed in a Kyiv bomb shelter Friday.

"It´s worth reminding adults -- the whole world -- that children see all this, experience it, feel it. And unlike us, they can´t make decisions," said Olena Sotnyk, a Ukrainian politician and advisor to the prime minister, as well as one of the exhibition´s organisers.

"They expect adults and the world to act to stop the war."

The exhibition, titled "Children. War. Future", opened to journalists Friday in a central Kyiv metro station that has been closed since the beginning of Russia´s invasion on February 24.

The Maidan Independence stop has instead functioned as a bomb shelter beneath the site of massive pro-democracy protests in 2014 that toppled Ukraine´s Kremlin-friendly leader.

The paintings by Ukrainian children from across the country depict horrors from places like Mariupol -- a city brutally besieged and bombed by Russian forces -- and Bucha, one of the first towns where civilians were found killed en masse.

Others are optimistic: a smiling soldier straps on a helmet, a woman wears a blue and yellow wreath of flowers with a dove surrounded by multicoloured flowers.

But the captions are unambiguous: "No to war," "I don´t want to die."

"What these children feel is the fear of war, anxiety. But on the other hand, there is faith, hope, support, understanding that there will be bright days in the future," said Danylo Tsvyok, who was also involved in staging the collection.

Sotnyk said there were plans in place to create a digital exhibition of several thousand images by children reflecting on the conflict.

The Ukrainian prosecutor general says that at least 347 children have been killed and another 646 wounded since the beginning of Russia´s invasion.