Olga Narbut

Ukrainian traditional embroidery designer

ResidencyCortex Frontal, Arraiolos, Portugal

Hosting periodAutumn 2022

Olga Narbut is a Ukrainian researcher of traditional embroidery, master embroiderer, teacher and designer of traditional embroidery patterns for modern clothes. She wrote this about her residency:

“More than 120 missiles have been launched on Ukraine this morning. I do not know when I will be able to come back home. I don’t know whether I still have a home. Or whether my home survives this war, and whether I’d be able to use my library of Ukrainian embroidery, which I have been collecting for more than ten years. I don’t know whether I’d be able to visit Ukrainian museums to explore unique collections of antique embroidery. I don’t know whether I will have an opportunity to teach embroidery to those eager to learn in Kyiv.

The cowardly war launched by Russia against my country changed my life beyond recognition, as well as the life of each and every Ukrainian. We fight, we keep on living, we care for what is precious for us, and even keep on creating.

I was lucky to observe the continuity of tradition, when it is being passed down through generations for centuries. I research Arraiolos carpet embroidery. It gives me a good chance to find similarities with Ukrainian embroidery, to understand it better and restore what was lost.

I am happy that the results of my research on my Prekrasa Studio Instagram page are highly appreciated by the audience. The last publication has been visited by 11,000 users. It proves once again that traditional embroidery of Ukraine, Portugal and other countries should be preserved and kept within the generic ecological system of world heritage.

I thank very much Artists at Risk and UNESCO – it is an honour to me to be under such a high guardianship. I endlessly thank the Arraiolos craftswomen for their openness, for sharing their experience and cordiality. I thank you, Cortex Frontal, for your hospitality and my residency. I feel safe here, feel at home, and can continue my work.”

Olga Narbut is an ARTISTS at RISK (AR)-UNESCO Resident at AR-Cortex Frontal in Arraiolos, Portugal, with the support of the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund and the UNESCO-Aschberg Programme for Artists and Cultural Professionals.