The Ukrainian mural project Mural Social Club launched recently a new an exciting initiative in collaboration with Unicef Ukraine and French street artist and activist Julien Malland aka Seth Globepainter, who along with Oleg Sosnov from Sky Art Foundation, co–curated this years program.
Titled “Mural Social Club: Back toSchool!”, the project intends to bring to Kiev internationally renowned artists who, during this summer, will paint the facades of schools, nurseries, and other buildings near educational institutions in Kiev, Odessa, Kharkiv, Kovel, Volnovaha, Popasnaya, Chernihiv and Cherkassy. There is still no final line-up, but it has been said that the artists come from diverse countries from all over the world including Israel, Portugal, France, Argentina, Chile, Russia, South Africa, Italy and of course Ukraine, invited to paint school in socially vulnerable areas.
The Mural Social Club, supported by the Sky Art Foundation together with UNICEF, started this new project with the purpose to increase buildings value and meaningfulness, giving children the opportunity to experience art as part of their everyday lives in places like schools, where they not only learn to discover the world, but also develop their creativity and essential skills like their ability to reflect about certain issues. The idea is to bring dreams and fantasy to children’s minds.
“This year, together with Sky Art Foundation, international and local partners, we decided to implement the social art project on the national level. I think that positive influence of contemporary art on the early stage of development promotes aesthetic education and world view expansion of children, who are rarely acquainted in everyday life with the contemporary art and pieces of creative urbanism. We hope that the project like this one, will inspire a lot of kids to the creation of their own works or creativity and will motivate them to look at other angle або differently at the walls of their home towns.” – Oleg Sosnov, co-curator of the «Mural Social Club: Back to School» project.
First out is French muralist, activist and co-curator of this year’s Mural Social Club: Back to School! project, Julien ‘Seth’ Malland who recently completed a couple of stunning pieces on the walls of the Popasna school n°1, situated on the Donbass conflict frontline. The building was damaged in 2014 and could just reopen a year ago.
Titled “Popasna’s swing”, Seth’s first mural depicts a little girl swinging in between two brick walls which open towards a blue and clear sky. The image reminds me of Charles Chaplin’s Swing little girl soundtrack of The Circus 1968 which sounds as follows “If you are looking for rainbows, look at the sky, but never, never look down”. Also an important message isn’t it?
The second mural (first image) was called “Per Aspera ad Astra”, a popular Latin phrase meaning “through hardships to the stars” and features the image of a child reaching for a rainbow whilst standing on a pile of books, an otherwise important element in Seth’s signature imagery. The image points to importance of education when it comes to reach your dreams.
About the conflict and its consequences
The armed conflict in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed militants has taken a heavy toll on civilians. Over 9,000 people have been killed, including many civilians, and at least 20,000 injured, according to data gathered by the UN office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, estimates that of the more than 1.5 million people displaced by the conflict at least one-third are children.
The fighting also led to widespread damage and destruction of hundreds of kindergartens and schools on both sides of the line of contact which separates areas held by Ukrainian government forces from those held by the militants of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic. As a result of the destruction of vital educational infrastructure, children have faced interruptions in their education and the quality of education for many students has declined (source Human Rights Watch).
Mural Social Club is an International Festival of Contemporary Art in the public space with the mission to make art accessible for everybody. By supporting social and cultural initiatives of residents of different cities they aim to promote a decentralisation of the urban culture of the country through the creation of artworks on the outskirts of the capital, as well as in smaller towns.
This year’s festival line-up includes top street art names from Italy, Spain, USA, Ukraine, Portugal, France, Russia, Chile, Peru, Brazil, all of whom are coming to Ukraine to decorate the cities with their artwork. Apart from murals and installations, Mural Social Club Festival also sees a number of indoor exhibitions, as well as an extensive educational program featuring workshops and seminars by renowned street artists.
The festival is organised and initiated by NGO Sky Art Foundation and curated by Oleg Sosnov and Yulia Ostrovska. More info on: skyartfound.com
Unicef Ukraine promotes alternatives to institutional care in Ukraine. Since it opened its office in Kyiv in 1997, the children’s agency has been working to improve the lives of children and families throughout Ukraine.
Over the years, UNICEF has increased its support to the Government of Ukraine to develop health, nutrition, education and protection programmes for children. UNICEF advocates for children’s right to participation and prioritises actions for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Recognising that the well being of children is closely linked to the situation of their mothers, UNICEF also works to help women in Ukraine to better their health and education, and protect their rights.
Founder and editor of Urbanite. Street Art lover who after the finishing her MA thesis on the muralist movement in the 1920-50s, developed a fascination for street art and graffiti that eventually led to collaborations with different art blogs, including the creation of this one.