Embroidery community project commemorates Ukraine invasion anniversary

Ariadne’s Thread, a local embroidery group for Ukrainian refugees, hosted an exhibition of tapestries and sewing projects for the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The exhibition at the Rose Theatre, called Flowers We Give to Ukraine, showcased the work of the Kingston community but also from support groups in Uckfield and Canterbury.

“It is a difficult moment for a lot of people and for our friends in Ukraine,” said Magdalena Glowacka, the curator and founder for Ariadne’s Thread.

The main tapestry on show at the Rose was the first half of a recreation of Blue Cornflowers I give to Ukraine, a painting by Maria Prymachenko.

Credit: Elizabeth Sorrell

“We are here to make a difference for the women, mothers, and children who have been displaced,” said Glowacka.

The Canterbury for Ukraine Ladies’ Choir performed at the exhibition, singing popular Ukrainian folk songs and translating English songs into Ukrainian such as The White Cliffs of Dover.

“It’s a weird experience in the sense that I didn’t think that there would be space for Ukrainian music and culture here. There is definitely a sense of community which helps me not feel quite so useless,” said Nastia Nizalova, a singer for Canterbury for Ukraine Ladies’ Choir.

Credit: Elizabeth Sorrell

Nizalova has lived in Dover since before the war but joined the choir when it was founded a year and a half ago along with Ukrainian refugees.

“It is an opportunity to provide comfort. People find their friends and a new passion,” said Nizalova.

Afterwards, Iryna Andriyenko, a local music teacher and violinist, played other folk songs and accompanied soprano, Tamara Ravenhill.

Credit: Elizabeth Sorrell

Andriyenko has lived in Kingston for several years but joined Ariadne’s Thread after her mother Halyna moved in with her shortly after the invasion.

“Of course it’s a sad day tomorrow, this brings back a lot of memories. It is not an easy thing because the situation in Ukraine is not good right now,” said Andriyenko.

In attendance was Diane White, the Mayor of Kingston-Upon-Thames, to “celebrate the different communities here in Kingston”.

“Ukrainian refugees are very much part of our borough. It is wonderful to see both refugees and residents bring such richness,” said White.

Credit: Elizabeth Sorrell

Other tapestries on display were originally paintings by Masha and Sasha, non-verbal autistic girls from Ukraine embroidered across Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Sweden, and Norway.

Ariadne’s Thread is a sewing group aimed at Ukrainian refugees but welcomes refugees, migrants, and locals from all backgrounds to take part in the tapestries.

“Being non-verbal is also something people experience when they come to a new country. We help people that way, for the people who don’t have language,” said Glowacka.

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Reporter and former editor for the Kingston Courier.

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