Monthly Archives: June 2015

A week in Ukraine is a long time – Part 2

It cannot have escaped anyone’s notice that there is a war going on in the south eastern corner of Ukraine. There are at least two sides to the story, but one thing is clear; Russian and Ukrainian mothers and fathers are losing their children there.

I stopped with my Ukrainian friends for an evening meal in a roadside restaurant. We were there with the family; young children, parents and grandparents. As we waited for the food to be served, it was obvious a party was just about to kick off!  There were some very well turned-out young teenagers – quite clearly enjoying precisely the same exciting kind of end-of-term celebration with friends, that my own son had enjoyed about four years ago.

What was different was that teachers AND parents were there too! After a bit of sign language, translation and stilting English – and even less Ukrainian, this group were happy to pose in the back up the pick-up!

I’m struck by the sheer joy and optimism in the young faces, looking at them now. I quite like the black and white iteration of this image, because, apart from the clothes, the essence of youthful optimism and joy, is timeless, and will have been mirrored on faces of countless thousands of teenagers as they move onto the next stages in their lives – Russian and Ukrainian alike.  

I wish this group of young people all good wishes and hope for their futures, and thank them here for letting me take and publish their photographs.

Mobilisation poster

School leavers party




Immediately opposite the roadside restaurant, held loftily above the road level, was a large advertising poster. Even with my rudimentary grasp of the Cyrilic alphabet, and command of Ukrainian, I can get the message.

There’s a patriotic duty to  mobilise and fight the enemy, for the things we hold dear. This certainly wasn’t the only recruiting poster I saw, nor the only call to arms and for support to those fighting on the front; about 150 kilometres distant.

I was struck by the contrast between the two scenes – and am troubled by the seeming inevitability that some of those bright, young, hopeful and intelligent young men and women, will be drawn into the conflict and will lose all their youthful vitality and ambitions in the brutalising conflict only a few kilometres away. And also possibly their lives. 










A week in Ukraine is a long time – Part 1

Graffiti in Kiev

Graffiti in Kiev

I’ve spent a week in Ukraine; arriving in Kiev, and travelling to the south east, visiting and staying near Dnipropetrovsk, and the surrounding countryside, and travelled as far south as the Zaporozhye region, where I visited a stone tomb, the Кам’яна Могила as it is properly called.  There are petroglyphs on the large sandstone blocks which date from the 22-24 millennia BC.

These are far more recent, and definitely more ephemeral, and I cannot interpret them either, but both styles demonstrate the need humans have to express themselves by articulating representations of their experiences in their surroundings, for themselves and their societies’ members to learn from or share.

Graffiti 2

Graffiti 2

I’m currently processing a large number of memories of my experiences and much information, and I will have to break this all up into pieces I can manage, and then put them here. But I thought I’d start with a few images of images which others have made, and try and untangle it all.

Graffiti 3

Graffiti 3

We know this place as Maidan Square – Independence Square – and the events of February 2014 are well remembered, and these images which others have made of the events of that time form part of an exhibition in the square.

Which are more a truth, a fact, an individual’s representation; the graffiti, the photographic exhibition or the 25,000 year-old marks on the rocks?

Maidan Nezalezhnosti - 1

Maidan Nezalezhnosti – 1

Maidan Nezalezhnosti - 2

Maidan Nezalezhnosti – 2

Maidan Nezalezhnosti - 3

Maidan Nezalezhnosti – 3

Maidan Nezalezhnosti - 4

Maidan Nezalezhnosti – 4