In October 2016, as part of an Art United Us project, Australian artist Guido van Helton visited eastern Ukraine. With the project designed to raise public awareness of war, aggression and violence, bringing instead a message of love and reconciliation, Guido headed for the front line town of Avdiivka.
There, on the side of a battle scared block of flats, he painted this remarkable mural. Working from a photo, it features the portrait of Marina Marchenko, a then 73-year-old local teacher.
Guido spent two days working on the wall whilst wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet. The routine background noise of artillery and machine-gun fire and the genuine risk of being shot at by snipers, giving added meaning to his work.
“These people have probably never seen anything like this…. If I can give them something to think about that isn’t war — even for a moment, then it’s worth it.” – Guido van Helton.
Guido taking the photo of Marina.
With these last 4 years, Avdiivka’s population of around 35,000 (pre-conflict) having endured Russian led shelling and small arms fire on a daily basis, Guido’s artistic aim is commendable.