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Happiness birds at heart of city installation

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Happiness birds at heart of city installation

A UKRAINIAN artist living in the region has marked the anniversary of the Russian invasion with a special art installation.

Veronika Zolotoverkha, who found refuge in Langholm last year, is behind the ‘Voice’ event in Tullie House Gardens in Carlisle.

It features her handmade Birds of Happiness, which are traditional Ukrainian amulets and a talisman for happiness, joy, and luck.

The installation opened at the weekend and will grow and run in other locations until August 24, which is Ukraine Independence Day.

Veronika, 33, said: “Ukrainians believe that birds carry the keys to happiness, warmth, and light. The Ukrainian coat of arms, a trident, is believed to be stylised on a bird that now symbolises freedom.”

Explaining the Voice title, she added: “Ukraine has millions of people, fate, face and only one goal, one voice that flies around the world and calls the world to hear us and unite. We scattered to different corners but remained one.

“Ukrainians from the area will be invited to take part in this project to take images and share an emotion or feeling that they find difficult to express publicly to be part of the ongoing artwork.

“On the 24th February last year I woke not to bombs but hearing on the TV the word ‘war’. What I, and many Ukrainians feared happened. It was a shock when you don’t know what to do and are enveloped in fear. As Russian troops entered Ukraine killing civilians and destroying my county any hope that the Russian’s would leave was quickly extinguished.”

She describes her journey to the UK via Poland as ‘frightening’, adding: “Not knowing what my future would be, having to leave my country with few possessions, little money, not speaking another language and not knowing where I was going. The memories haunt me daily.

“I find it difficult to explain what it’s like not feeling safe – not knowing what fate the future holds, who is going to hurt me, my family, and my country people.

“I have found a loving home here and treated as an equal with kindness. Most importantly here I feel safe, in a place of sanctuary for the present.”

Veronika was previously a theatre director at Luhansk Academic Ukraine Music and Drama Theatre with master’s degrees in theatrical arts and directing from Kharkiv National University of Arts and from Kyiv Regional School of Culture and Arts as a director of theatrical folk events and ceremonies.

In the UK, she has delivered a traditional craft workshop at Ukraine at heART, Arts for Peace Festival and was involved with a Ukrainian drama and music performance at the Queens Hall, Hexham. She assisted the University of Cumbria Choir in the pronunciation of Ukrainian songs and The Spooky Men’s Choral during their UK tour.

A keen photographer, some of her work has been exhibited at the University of Cumbria and she has recently completed a Royal Photographic/Open University Course.

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