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On the cover
7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope

28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.


Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.


Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.


Cover Story

Wearing Patriotism on Your Sleeve

To wear vyshyvanka traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts was once seen as political an act of nationalism. In post-independence Ukraine the ornamental motifs and compositions that characterise the craft have gone mainstream featuring not only on shirts, but on other clothing, even smalls.

 The appeal of vyshyvanka sets it apart from most national costume. The intricate designs can be seen on normal day-to-day clothing throughout Ukraine a business suit paired with vyshyvanka shirt is a common sight. The designs have also moved from outer to underwear and socks but this is to the chagrin of purists. Tradition dictates womens embroidery should end at the level of the breasts, as women are believed to breathe from chest-level, and for men embroidery should end at the level of the solar plexus, as men are believed to breathe from the abdomen. But rules are made to be broken and in 21st century Ukraine the popularity of vyshyvanka, and adaptations of it, continues to grow.

Origins, Threat And Mass Production
The art of vyshyvanka in Ukraine dates back to pre-Christianity. Few physical examples remain, but what still exists has allowed historians to chart the crafts history. In 513 BC, Greek historian Herodotus mentioned that the Thracian-Dacian people who lived in what is now the Balkans and Western Ukraine used embroidery to decorate their clothes. Excavations of sites from the 1st century have revealed examples of embroidered clothing featuring pre-Christian goddess motifs, such as Berehynia. There are 11th century examples of embroidery in the St Sophia Cathedral in Kiev depicted on frescos and miniatures. Vyshvyshanka was an everyday art in Ukrainians lives until the 19th century, when it became more of a craft. Russification attempts by the Russian Empire and later the Soviets led to the tradition dying away somewhat. But national fervour is difficult to suppress and with industrialisation and mass-production techniques it was recognised as a potential money-spinner. These steps were taken by the co-operatives and the state administration in Soviet Ukraine and by cultural and economic institutions in Western Ukraine. All of these groups had their work exported; most of it was labelled Soviet or Polish. With mass production, the quality of folk embroidery declined and the craft became regarded as sentimental kitsch it was worn only by uber-nationalists, historical recreationists and folk groups.

Regional Differences
Despite it moving from everyday to fancy dress, the basis of the craft and regional differences survived. Through the centuries distinct regional styles in terms of motif and colours developed. The red, red-black colour scheme is the most ubiquitous featuring in Central and Eastern-Ukrainian embroidery, and across the whole of Ukraine. In Central and Eastern parts of the country, geometric forms and plant ornaments abound. In the Poltava Region, colours usually include pale blue, white, light ochre, pale green and gray tones. Poltava is especially famed for its white-on-white and openwork embroidery. In Western Ukraine, geometric ornament and a sharply contrasting palette feature. In the Lemko region, the oldest embroideries have red and red-blue linear motifs. Over time, other colours, such as blue, green and yellow, were added. In the Boiko region, red-blue geometric through to densely worked geometric and floral patterns feature. The embroideries of Bukovyna are among the richest, often combining as many as nine or more colours, including silver and gold metallic thread as well as glass beads. The needlework of Pokuttya is also intricate, with red the predominant colour, with accents of yellow, green and blue added. In Halychyna, is a variety of embroidery styles specific to individual localities, such that when someone in-the-know sees a piece of embroidery there is no mistaking where it came from. In the northwest and north of Ukraine needlework traditions have been preserved relatively intact despite suppression of Ukrainian culture. Red, as well as red-blue and red-black dominate in geometric form floral motifs are also popular.

Modern Vyshyvanka
Spotting the different motifs and colours became a whole lot easier when independence came in 1991. With the new Ukraine came national pride, and Ukrainians were keen to embrace and celebrate their identity with perhaps one of the most visible symbols of the countrys culture. Some credit the versatility of vyshyvanka for its popularity it can be dressed up for corporate wear, and events or dressed down bohemian-style with jeans. It suits almost any occasion. Spanish fashion designer Paco Rabanne created a collection of pieces inspired by Ukrainian motifs, following a visit to Kyiv in 2006 when he was reportedly quite taken with the country, its customs, and national spirit. He was quoted as saying Ukraine reminds me of a flower unfolding its petals before my very eyes. From the haute couture collections of the catwalk to street fashion, modern adaptations of vyshyvanka can be seen alongside family heirlooms passed from generation to generation in todays Ukraine.

by Oleksandra Obushna and Jared Morgan

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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.

    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.


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