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Creative Response Ukraine Art Group with Kathryn McManus, chief executive of Creative Response (holding framed painting)

Women of Ukraine

A powerful and inspiring exhibition created with the support of

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Women of Ukraine is an exhibition created by a group of approximately 40 Ukrainian refugees in Surrey who met through an arts-for-wellbeing programme in Farnham, set up and supported by Creative Response Arts and Activate Learning. It records the women’s personal experience of leaving their homes, their friends and family in Ukraine, of living in the UK, and of the ongoing trauma of the war. February 24, 2024 is the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.


The Ukrainian art group at Creative Response is run by three artists, Mariya Borysova and Natalia Sharomova from Ukraine, and Niel Ballingal from the UK. Natalia, who works as a photojournalist, taught portrait photography to the Ukraine art group. All the photographs in the exhibition were taken by women in the group, using their newly learned skills. Each portrait is accompanied by a personal story in the sitter’s own words and translated into English.

We share four of the women's stories here.

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Natalia Peretyatko

I'm 44. We evacuated on the third day of the war. Our city, Kyiv, was half-occupied. My husband understood that this war would last for years and drove my son and me to the western border.

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It all started with the fact that I lost EVERYTHING because of the war. I lost my favourite job, my home, all the things connected with my past, and then hope....

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Valentyna Rekkonen

I was 36 years old when the war broke out. It was the first day after I left my previous job and I had high hopes for a new life. My husband and I dreamed of having a child and we were preparing for it...


February 24, 2022. Our day started at 5 am. Explosions, lots of explosions... From our window on the upper floor, we can clearly see the open fields towards Russia. The border is only 30 km away.

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Natalia Sharomova

Photojournalist, Lead artist for the Women of Ukraine Project

This photo project of Ukrainian women is a great support for us. About gentle and resolute women. These are not only our stories. I believe they can support and inspire others not to give up, even if you have lost everything.

Thank you to our supporters

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Peter Gillespie

Local artist

Founder of Farnham urban sketching group


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Perdita Hunt OBE

Co-chair of the Surrey Cultural Partnership, Deputy Lord-Lieutenant, Surrey

This exhibition will be an important opportunity for the community to reflect on the experience of the women forced to leave their homes because of the war in Ukraine and to come together in support of them and others.

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Lauren Wayland

Operations Manager, Museum of Farnham

The museum sees this exhibition as the beginning of what we hope will be a long-standing partnership between ourselves and Creative Response.

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Harriet Thompson

Community Producer, Farnham Maltings

Creative Response is an innovative and much-valued charity in Farnham which does brilliant work in providing long-term support for people living with mental ill health through creative activities. This exhibition will be a wonderful way to ... foster better understanding and engagement with the trauma of war and conflict.

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Date and time is TBD
38 West St, Farnham GU9 7DX, UK
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