BLOG: Ukrainian culture reflected in Eurovision Easter art
As part of EuroLearn, Liverpool City Council in partnership with Liverpool ONE, has commissioned six artists to work with schools and members of the Ukrainian community to decorate giant eggs. Artist Amrit Singh (MrASingh) explains the meaning behind the project.
It is amazing to be part of something which feels revolutionary. This is the first time a host city has ever produced a learning and engagement programme alongside the Eurovision Song Contest and it’s a game-changer. This is how it should be done in the future.
This will go down in history as something really positive at a time when there is a lot of negativity. We’re bringing two countries together, not just to celebrate music, but to celebrate, art, culture and community.
I’m a massive Eurovision fan because it is an opportunity to bring people together. I always spend it with my friends and family, it’s like Christmas.
I have had the pleasure of working with Anfield Road Primary and St Paul and St Timothy’s Catholic Infant School, where I delivered aspirational assemblies and four workshops to around 70 children.
I was blown away by their hospitality and their creativity. The teachers were so proactive and the children had really done their research. It was amazing to see the excitement and free-flow creativity from the children and all the brilliant questions. A big passion of mine is skills sharing and inspiring the next generation, so this was really rewarding.
When I was a child, I was really quiet and reserved and I didn’t think I could achieve much but when I was introduced to creatives at my school, it helped me raise the bar. Now I want to give back and I hope to inspire the next generation to express themselves and build their confidence through art.
Art is a connector and a great way of starting conversations. It provides a safe space for children to ask questions. Everybody should be able to ask questions about other cultures respectfully, instead of making assumptions which can be dangerous. Sometimes it can be difficult to have these conversations but if we do it as part of an activity in a relaxed environment, it helps the children feel comfortable to raise any queries.
I always incorporate culture into my art but I’d never delved into Ukrainian culture before. The project is inspired by the traditional art of Pysanka egg decoration, but it was massively important that my design reflected Ukrainian culture, as well as drawing inspiration from the children themselves.
I didn’t just want to produce something pretty. As an artist I feel like it’s important to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes and feel what they’re feeling. When I put myself in the shoes of somebody from Ukraine, I feel pride, respect and hope and that was what I wanted to envision onto the egg, which I’ve named Nadiya, meaning hope in Ukrainian.
When people look at the egg, I want them to feel respect for a community, respect for what the people of Ukraine are going through and respect for their endurance and hope.
A lot of my work is inspired by colour, culture and patterning. When I did my research I learnt that each colour has a different meaning in Ukrainian culture.
The egg’s surface is painted in shades of yellow and metallic gold, which symbolises light, purity and strength. This represents the resilience of our Ukrainian friends and the light at the end of the tunnel for those who live in hope for the conflict to be over, as well as the purity of the children who helped design the egg.
In Ukrainian culture, blue represents knowledge and wisdom, which really chimes with the EuroLearn project. The Eurovision Song Contest was originally conceived through a desire to unite European countries following World War II, but has taken on even greater significance this year with the conflict in Ukraine. Projects like EuroLearn are teaching the next generation about other communities and how to co-exist better. The conflict started because two countries can’t co-exist together so if there’s one thing we should all take away from this is how can we increase our empathy and try and be more proactive in learning about other cultures.
Geometric shapes such as the eight-pointed star feature strongly on my design because they are symbolic in Ukrainian culture, representing life, family and well-being.
Ultimately, the sculpture stands tall and proud, an enduring symbol of Ukrainian heritage and tradition, exuding a sense of respect and hope.