Painting salvaged from Ukraine school goes on show in Southend

Vlada Zabielina with her painting

Vlada Zabielina said it was a “miracle” that she was reunited with her painting

A painting thought to be lost forever in a bombed-out Ukrainian art school is to feature in an Essex exhibition.

The work, by Vlada Zabielina, was transported the 2,200 miles (3,541km) from Mariupol to Southend-on-Sea, after it was salvaged by a friend.

She said the unfinished work was “symbolic” and represented “how time stopped when the war began”.

Ms Zabielina, 20, said she could not believe it when she was reunited with it on Christmas Day.

Unfinished Still-life with a Pomegranate, by Vlada Zabielina

The unfinished painting will be exhibited as part of the Leigh Art Trail in Essex

Her 19th birthday, on 26 February, 2022, was spent “under heavy bombardment”, the graphic design student said.

With her parents, she managed to leave the war-torn country and eventually started a new life in Southend.

“All my brushes, easels and canvases, along with my paintings, were still somewhere in Mariupol, lost and forgotten,” she said.

‘Brighter future’

Several months later she received a phone call from her friend, Andrew, in Mariupol, who told her that her art school had been bombed.

She said: “He passed the ruined buildings when he collected water from the river and said he would take a closer look.”

Ms Zabielina sent her friend images of her work, and a few weeks later he delivered her painting to her grandmother’s house.

Her mother managed to get it transported out of Ukraine through Poland, Germany and France until it was presented to her in Southend on 25 December.

“When they gave it to me, my head was spinning with the idea of a nice, new canvas but, oh gosh, how wrong I was,” she said.

“I opened it and could not believe my eyes. I cried.

“It is still unfinished because there is something symbolic in this painting. It represents how time stopped when the war began, not only for me but all Ukrainians.

“Maybe one brighter day in the future I will be able to finish it, but for now I would like to keep it like this as a reminder of what wars do to the world.”

Still Life with a Pomegranate will be shown at the Living Room from 15 to 16 July, as part of the Leigh Art Trail.

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