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Art for Ukraine Exhibition in Guildford: Mariya Borysova, Natalia Sharomova and Niel Ballingal

Updated: May 29, 2023

Anyone who has been to a Folk Inspiration gig will know about Creative Response, the arts charity that we support. We wanted to do something at our concert with Sam Sweeney at St Mary’s to show the positive impact that the charity makes on the wellbeing of local people.


When we learned that St Mary’s has been holding a weekly vigil for Ukraine, having an art exhibition in the church for the Ukraine group at Creative Response felt like a good idea.


With the amazing kindness and generosity of everyone at the Parish of Holy Trinity & St Mary's, the support of Creative Response, and a lot of hard work by three professional artists, Mariya Borysova and Natalia Sharomova from Ukraine, and Niel Ballingal from the UK, the exhibition that was only a dream a few months ago is going ahead! Read Alex Duke's article in Greatest Hits Radio Surrey & East Hampshire for the story behind the exhibition.


You will be able to view the exhibition from 12 May at 20:30 for the Vigil for Ukraine, at St Mary’s Church, Quarry Street, Guildford GU1 3UA. If you have tickets for Sam Sweeney's workshop or sold out concert on 13 May, you'll be able to see the exhibition, meet the artists, and learn about Creative Response's amazing work. The exhibition will remain on view until 25 May. Check the exhibition event page for dates and times when you can visit the exhibition.

Three artists sitting in a studio smiling. Mariya Borysova, a painter from Ukraine, is on the left holding a bundle of paintbrushes. Next to her is Natalia Sharomova, a photojournalist from Ukraine holding a framed photograph. Niel Ballingal, a painter and ceramicist from the UK is on the right, he is holding a jar of paint brushes.
From left to right: Mariya Borysova, Natalia Sharomova and Niel Ballingal

Mariya, Natalia and Niel have been leading weekly art sessions for Ukrainian people living in the Farnham area since November last year. The sessions are run by Creative Response, in partnership with Activate Learning.


Mariya Borysova is a painter, graphic artist, art teacher and mother of four children. She graduated from Kharkiv State Academy of Design and Arts and works in modern art, exploring facets of female nature, motherhood, sacrifice and freedom. Her style borders on realism and symbolism, evoking Ukrainian folk ornaments and Dutch floral still life. She has participated in many group and solo exhibitions in Ukraine, the USA and UK. She moved with her family to Farnham due to the war.


Natalia Sharomova is a photojournalist from Kyiv and is closely involved in political affairs in Ukraine. She has undertaken a project about Anna Kyivska (Anne of Kyiv 1030-1075) in France and an aerial project about the beauty of the country. She was the winner of the XV International Photo Contest “Day-2019” and Ukraine National Photographer of the Year 2012. Natalia and her two children are now living in Farnham, having arrived here to escape the war. She also works for the Farnham Herald, a local newspaper.


Niel Ballingal has been painting from an early age. His paintings have been exhibited at two solo shows in London, in many galleries in Cornwall, where he lived, as well as in Hong Kong. More recently, he has included his raku pottery at exhibitions in open studios. Niel started a series of paintings in response to the war in Ukraine, which will be shown for the first time in the exhibition.


Kathryn McManus, chief executive at Creative Response, said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to welcome our Ukrainian guests into the Creative Response community and a real joy to see the amazing artwork being made by the Ukrainian group each week.


"I am grateful to Niel, Mariya and Natalia, whose work is exhibited in this very special exhibition, for their fantastic joint leadership of these art sessions, and to Activate Learning for partnering with us to make them possible. My thanks also go to the team at the parish of Holy Trinity and St Mary’s for making the space available for this exhibition."


Youth by Mariya Borysova



Photograph by Natalia Sharomova



It's Black and White by Niel Ballingal


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