Ukraine conflict: War Through Children’s Eyes photo exhibition continues at Leith Library
A powerful photo exhibition that documents the experiences of young Ukrainians living through war can be seen at Leith Library this month.
Titled ‘War Through Children’s Eyes’, the exhibition displays the work of nine children from Lukashivka, a village near the city of Chernihiv in northern Ukraine – one of the first regions to be invaded by Russia in February 2022.
Exhibition curator, Zhenya Dove, explained the pictures portray the children’s innocence but at the same time reveal how ‘their childhood was stolen from them – their playgrounds have been destroyed.’
The exhibition, which previously featured at the Central Library and Out of The Blue Drill Hall arrived at Leith Library at the beginning of the month to mark one year since the outbreak of war and is available to see until February 26. Visitors are encouraged to make donations to the Ukrainian Educational Foundation (UEF) to help the charity deliver vital supplies to people in need.
Many of the pictures featured in the exhibition depict the innocence of childhood against the backdrop of a war zone, showing destroyed buildings, abandoned tanks, and shell casings littering the ground. One picture capturing the remains of a church is captioned ‘I took a picture to remember what a church was like’, another of a destroyed play park reads ‘this is what our playground looks like after the Russians. We used to hang out here a lot – we still do.’
The exhibition first launched in Ukraine last year by project organisers, Dmytro Zubkov and Artem Skorokhodko, after they visited de-occupied villages in the Chernihiv region to provide food and other essentials. The business partners from Kyiv said they were moved by ‘an unbroken spirit’ amongst the younger generation and found their fortitude inspiring. They then launched the Behind Blue Eyes Project, giving children disposable cameras to capture their everyday lives.
Zhenya, from the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, who has lived in Leith since 2014 got in touch with the organisers and brought the unique exhibition to Edinburgh in November last year.
Zhenya said: “The dissonance between the destroyed landscape and this childlike happiness was so powerful that the project organisers wanted to share it with the rest of the world. I thought it was a good idea to translate this sense of hope that they carry and the fact that they still managed to stay children. I thought it was a really novel concept because you get to see their world through those photos and get a good sense of what it’s like to be there.”
Since Russia’s invasion one year ago over 7,000 civilians have been killed, more than eight million people have been displaced and sustained air strikes have caused extensive damage to thousands of homes, schools and hospitals throughout the country. You can support people in Ukraine by scanning the QR code at the exhibition or by visiting the Ukrainian Educational Foundation website. Each week the foundation delivers food, hygiene products, clothing and shelter for people in need.
War Through Children’s Eyes at Leith Library is open Monday to Wednesday from 10am to 8pm and Thursday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm.