The Wanaka community is banding together for Ukraine via an art exhibition on Felt and at the Wanaka Community Hub this month. Aid Through Art has been organised by a group of local artists who were motivated to act when their friend and fellow artist Olga Zoma, who hails from the Sloviansk region in eastern Ukraine, began a Give A Little page to help move her family out of the conflict zone.
Olga has seen this all firsthand before, having been uprooted from her home when the war broke out in 2014. She considers herself a “lucky one” to have eventually found work overseas, learned English, and made her way to Wanaka, where she works as an architect and artist. Now, watching from a distance as her family navigates the situation yet again, she is driven to help not only them but the many others who are in similar circumstances.
Through the month of May, a collective online exhibition is running on Felt where prints are available from artists across New Zealand aiming to gain a wider audience. At least 35% of the sale price will be donated directly to three aid organisations on the ground in Ukraine helping the vulnerable and refugees, as well as Olga’s family. The live exhibition will run weekdays through the end of May, with support from Wanaka Arts and the Wanaka Community Hub.
Over forty artists from Wanaka, Queenstown, and Christchurch have entered works in both exhibitions, with a number of artists donating works in full. The art covers a range of styles, sizes, mediums, and prices, from well-known artists as well as exciting up-and-comers. Modern and colourful portraiture, oil landscapes, abstract watercolour, and printmaking are just a few of the different styles on offer.
“We have been overwhelmed with support from not only the artist community, but also local businesses,” says Olga. “It could be easy for everyone to feel far away from Ukraine and ignore what’s happening. It is very encouraging to feel solidarity from New Zealanders.”