Although, according to tradition, the Eurovision Song Contest should be taking place in Ukraine this month, it will, instead, be held in Liverpool.
In order to include an added flavour of Ukraine, the event will be co-hosted by Ukrainian presenters. This, however, won’t be the only Ukrainian influence on the city of Liverpool. In the lead up to event, the Open Eye Gallery is working with Ukrainian curators Viktoria Bavykina and Max Gorbatskyi and partner organisations in Liverpool City Region to produce exhibitions, publications and events in the gallery and across Liverpool city region, reflecting on the question ‘What does home mean?’ The events are designed, not only as a means to reflect on the situation in the Ukraine and what ‘home’ means to Ukrainians, but they are also designed to reach as much of the local community and as many visitors to Liverpool as possible.
One feature of this vast project is 'Ukrainian Photography Inspiring UK Words,' a collaborative venture involving six Ukrainian photographers and six UK poets. Each photographer has chosen one of their images which depicts their story about home and the poets have then responded to these with short poems. These diptychs are on display in a number of public spaces throughout Liverpool and on Merseyrail sites.
Untitled from the series The Faces of The War, Kyiv, ©Alexander Chekmenev
I am half real now they’ve all gone.
My house is my skeleton.
I wear ghost layers to keep warm.
Sometimes, for a treat, the gas-ring on.
If I die here frozen, fierce, forlorn -
So be it. I’ll not leave my shell, my home.
Home: flesh, blood, bone. Home,
Skin, not stone now that my loved ones’ gone.
That still life behind is my own, apples glowing.
Back then, real life was not a bomb thrown.
Now, my life is a book on loan.
My house is my war torn home.
Chernigiv region roads, Lukashivka Village, Lukashivka ©Mykhaylo Palinchak
Call me World
I am land.
I am happy for you to live on me.
Till and plough. Graze your cattle.
Build your homes upon me.
I will feed, nourish, even bury you.
But I do not belong to you.
I have no name, flag or anthem.
Call me World.
Untitled, Berlin ©Igor Chekachkov’s
Belong, Be Strong
I trust that there will be some spare compassion
for the love I left at home, from those who I find here
and from the one who sees us clear
the one who watches from above.
Other initiatives include:
A ‘Home Trails’ app which guides visitors and locals to ‘Home-themed’ Ukrainian photography collections at independent spaces such as cafes and museums in five trails across the city region. Each location displays an artwork by a contemporary Ukrainian photographer, together with a postcard which can be purchased. Profits from the sale of the postcard will help to source and deliver medical supplies for paramedics who save human lives in Ukraine.
And a creative writing resource pack entitled, ‘Home: What Does It Mean to You?’ which has been developed for Year 5 primary school pupils. Using five photographs from contemporary Ukrainian photographers, pupils are encouraged to respond creatively through stories, poems, lyrics and letters.
For more information about the Ukrainian photography projects please head to the Open Eye Gallery.