ResidencyCortex Frontal, Arraiolos, Portugal
Hosting periodAutumn 2022
Oleksandra (Lesia) Synychenko is a graphic artist, poet, author and potter from Ukraine. She wrote this about her experiences:
“I have been drawing flowers for 10 months. After I managed to leave Chernihiv in March, it seemed to me that I would not be able to create anything. Thoughts and images disappeared. Even the words disappeared. It was difficult for me to put them into sentences. A few days passed, and I got to the Lviv region, opened my suitcase and took out my paints. I laid them out on a small table in someone else’s kitchen and began to draw flowers.
These were my unspoken words, unformed thoughts, and lost emotions. After that, I was able to breathe again. I managed to sell some of these works, and transfer the money to help the Ukrainian army.
The second time I took up flowers was when I moved to Lithuania. I needed this floral pause to tune in and continue my project on woman, home and faith that I had been working on before the full-scale invasion. I had thought a lot about what a woman finds her strength in, what she can hold on to in difficult circumstances. War was added to the other actors of that history. The finale of the work was the Morphing project, which I, with the support of the Lithuanian Cultural Council Lietuvos kultūros taryba, presented in Vilnius in November-December of 2022.
And here I am again drawing flowers. This means that once again this year, the scenery around me is changing and I am preparing for something new. I will spend three months in the Portuguese town of Arrayolus, 130 kilometres from Lisbon.
I hope, thanks to this stop, not only to start an artistic project, the idea of which I have been thinking about lately, but also to finish what I was working on at the beginning of February, which was unceremoniously interrupted by the Russian army – to finish the book.
I am grateful to the Cortex Frontal residence for shelter and a cosy workshop. And to Artists at Risk and UNESCO for the opportunity to stop and reflect on this year. To understand how and where I should personally move forward to bring our victory closer.
I constantly remember that my relatives, friends, home and country are in danger. Every day, Russia is looking for new ways to destroy my loved ones. Therefore, now in this quiet warm country in an old house, among beautiful things, I feel a certain ambivalence. And I wake up a few minutes before the announcement of an air raid alert thousands of kilometres from me. My internal compass is set to Home.”
Oleksandra (Lesia) Synychenko is an ARTISTS at RISK (AR)-UNESCO Resident at Córtex Frontal in Arraiolos, Portugal, with the support of the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund and the UNESCO-Aschberg Programme for Artists and Cultural Professionals.