University of St Andrews: Botanic Garden showcase for Ukraine exhibition

An exhibition showcasing the work of Ukrainian artists, directly impacted by the war in their home country, opens at St Andrews Botanic Garden this week.

‘Places We Love: Art and the Ukrainian East’ features the work of artists Oleksandr Kuchynskyi, Masha Pronina, Darya Tsymbalyuk and Viktor ‘Corwic’ Zasypkin, and ranges from photography and montage to painting.

The works on display provide insights into industrial heritage, pre-war cityscapes, the violence of military incursions, and the multiple lives and loves of the Donbas region which, since 2014, has been partially occupied by Russia, and where war has been ongoing for eight years.

Places featured in this exhibition include Mariupol, Sievierodonetsk and Donetsk, now sadly familiar to international audiences because of the atrocities Russia has committed since the invasion began. Most works were produced during the post-2014 period of Russia’s occupation in the Ukrainian East and annexation of Crimea and following the escalation of Russian violence after February 2022.

‘Places We Love’ is organised by the Centre for Contemporary Art in collaboration with the Centre for Russian, Soviet, Central and East European Studies and the Centre for Art and Politics at the University of St Andrews, and kindly hosted by the St Andrews Botanic Garden.

The exhibition is co-organised by Dr Catherine Spencer and Dr Kate Cowcher of the School of Art History, Dr Victoria Donovan of the School of Modern Languages, and Dr Darya Tsymbalyuk.

Dr Cowcher said the exhibition derives from a recently published book, Limits of Collaboration: Art, Ethics and Donbas, written by Dr Donovan and Dr Tsymbalyuk together with Dmytro Chepurnyi, Viktor ‘Corwic’ Zasypkin, Oleksandr Kuchynskyi and Kateryna Siryk. The book explores independent art initiatives that engage the history and heritage of Donbas, as well as the new understandings of the region emerging through contemporary cultural practices before the escalation of the war in 2022.

The book was in print in Kyiv when the full-scale Russian invasion of the country began on 24 February 2022 and printing was only completed when Russian military was pushed back from the Ukrainian North and the press was able to resume working.

The exhibition, which runs from Thursday 16 June to Tuesday 12 July in the Garden Bothy and Pergola at St Andrews Botanic Garden, will be accompanied by a weekend print sale, with all proceeds going to Ukrainian artists.