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‘May you always have walls on which to hang art’

Nadiya Miller, pictured third from the left, delivered a powerful message during the opening of the ‘Artists for Peace’ exhibition on Monday. Photos by Johnny Bugeja

Nadiya Miller brought powerful emotions to the fore on Monday as she spoke at the launch of the ‘Artists for Peace’ exhibition to raise funds for people displaced by the war in Ukraine.

Ms Miller, a Ukrainian who moved to Gibraltar five years ago, reminded guests at the event in the Gustavo Bacarisas Gallery that millions of Ukrainians no longer had homes in which to hang their art collections.

“If you buy a painting or a piece of art today, please put it somewhere on your wall where you can see it every day,” Ms Miller said.

“And every day you go by and you don’t have to grab your children and grab your passports and run into bomb shelters, consider yourself having a good day.”

“No, even better, consider you are having a blessed amazing day.”

“Having walls and pictures on them is a luxury for more than 10 million Ukrainian people who lost their homes in just 26 days of war.”

“In Mariupol, a Ukrainian city besieged by the Russian army, there are almost no walls left. Even to hide behind.”

“We all know that all wars end. That all bloody tyrants eventually die and their empires fall apart. So will Putin. We don’t know how long we have to wait for that.”

“But today I was thinking, what would Ukrainian people like to tell you besides saying thank you for everything you do to help them?”

“I am sure they would wish that you would always have walls around you and a roof above your head to protect you.”

“And that you always have peace and freedom and that you are never afraid of any insane bloodthirsty neighbour who is threatening your existence.”

“Such an ordinary thing as a painting on a wall is a privilege in our days.”

“Please treasure it as a symbol of freedom and peace.”

The idea of ‘Artists for Peace’ came from local artist Gail Francis-Tiron when she was thinking what could she do to help people displaced by the conflict in Ukraine.

After seeing how an artist sabotaged his own mural of the Battle of Trafalgar with a message of peace, it made her think she could arrange an exhibition in Gibraltar and that she could ask artists to donate pieces of work.

The exhibition brings together a wide range of artists from Gibraltar who donated 140 pieces of art to raise funds for Ukrainians.

In addition to the artists donating their work for free, Gibraltar Cultural Services gave permission to use the Gustavo Bacarisas Gallery free of charge and with no commission on paintings.

To help the exhibition, Gibraltar Bon Food and Vicky Bishop donated towards the drinks and canapes for the opening, and volunteers from school helped as did a couple of Ms Francis-Tiron's close friends.

The Minister for Culture, Dr John Cortes, opened the exhibition.

Also speaking at the event were Russian Elena Rodionova and Ukrainian Oksana Antosha.

The exhibition will be running from March 21-24 from 2pm to 6pm and the artworks can be bought by submitting a closed bid, the highest bidders will be the new owners of their chosen piece, these persons should know this by end of play on Friday.

All money raised will be given to the Red Cross, Gibraltar, for their Ukraine account.

A feature on the exhibition will run in this newspaper later this week.

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