The sunflower’s connection to Ukraine has always been a powerful one. Not only does its striking yellow hue echo the colour of Ukraine’s flag, but the country itself supplies upwards of 70% of the world sunflower market. Since the outbreak of war, however, the flower has taken on new significance, becoming a symbol of Ukraine and the world’s opposition to the Russian invasion.
Art and life come together in the Flowers for Hope charity initiative in support of Ukraine, launched this year to raise funds for humanitarian aid in the region. The scheme sees artists, both local and international, paint murals on buildings and even cars around the country, using professional grade Liquitex and Lefranc Bourgeois acrylic paint. It is fitting that these large-scale works of art take sunflowers as their theme, with artists giving their own distinctive spin on the flower to create a remarkably diverse range of work.
“The scheme sees artists paint murals on buildings and even cars around the country, using professional grade acrylic paint”
US artist Trek Thunder Kelly, best-known for huge public murals that have gained international attention in locations around the world, uses a photorealistic painting style to create vivid, immersive scenes. On this occasion he travelled around Ukraine, photographing skies and sunflowers along the way before creating his design, in which an enormous sunflower with bright green leaves is framed by a perfectly blue sky. He also hand-painted delicate sunflowers on destroyed cars, offering a message of strength and resilience in even the darkest of circumstances.
Kelly is the creative mind behind Flowers for Hope, and it’s his vision to add new colour to neighbourhoods through the addition of these murals. Other Ukrainian artists involved include Helen Yanko. In addition to these local interventions, the team behind the initiative plans to create NFTs from images of the works in-situ, which can then be sold in order to raise money for those who need it most in Ukraine. This will include donations to the Woman in War charity, organised by women who have survived occupation to help women and children with psychological trauma.
“The team plans to create NFTs from the works, which can then be sold to raise money for those who need it in Ukraine”
Amidst damaged buildings and blighted city landscapes, these paintings set out to bring new joy and hope for the future. From the ruins sunflowers are emerging, one artwork at a time, a reminder of the unifying and uplifting power of art even in the horrifying face of war.