‘Grow in Freedom’: Brussels unveils mural to mark anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

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To mark the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the City of Brussels unveiled a mural co-created by Ukrainian and Belgian street artists.

Ukrainian Institute and cultural agency Port. agency, in collaboration with the CHU Saint-Pierre, to open the mural named ‘Grow in Freedom’ on rue Haute, in Brussels Marolles district.  

The Wall, Brussels is the 4th of 5 murals-symbols opened in Vienna, Berlin, and Marseille. A further wall will be unveiled in Kenya in March.

The artists behind the work are the famous Ukrainian street artists Sestry (Sisters Feldman) Nicole and Michelle Feldman, and the Belgian illustrator Theresa Sdralevska. “This mural is a handshake, an image that recalls fundamental principles by connecting with them (the Ukrainian artists) to the present situation,” says Teresa Sdralevich. 

The Wall symbolizes resistance, stability, and armour that fences off Europe from the war. At the same time, the title refers to the Pink Floyd cult album, a rock opera that tells about a hero who is fenced off from the whole world by a wall behind which he struggles with his inner demons. 

“Ukraine is dealing with an external demon. The Wall project allows us to start a dialogue about the world’s attitude towards Ukraine as “us and them.” We wish to rethink this idea and look at the mental and historical wall that separates us. And which must be eliminated so that we feel like a single community.” – Katya Taylor, Port. CEO and founder, and curator of The Wall says.

The project aims to show that Ukraine is part of the European Union community. Ukraine and the EU have a lot in common, the same values, goals, and rights. To emphasize their similarity while maintaining the individuality of every side, Port. attracted ten well-known Ukrainian and European street artists who’ve created projects to show that the idea of interaction and synergy exists not only in theory but is also embodied in this project where it goes through about co-creation, alliance, and mutual benefit same way as wanting it in a bigger scale – in the cooperation between countries. 

“The murals are our response to Russian barbaric aggression on the cultural front in the civilizational war which Putin has launched. The policy of destruction and elimination of Ukrainian identity is one of Russia’s key elements in the war against Ukraine. In our temporarily occupied territories, Russian invaders closed Ukrainian schools and imposed their language and history. Thus, since February 24 russian invaders have damaged 514 cultural sites – at least 174 religious sites, 38 museums, 38 historic buildings, 38 buildings dedicated to cultural activities, 18 monuments, 10 libraries, and 2660 educational institutions. The list is growing every day. Today Ukraine is fighting not only for the right to exist but defends its right to be a family member of Europe”, says Emine Dzhaparova, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

The mural portrays the connection between Ukraine and Europe in the heart of Brussels. Ukraine is now defending the very roots of democracy and has a substantial cultural potential to share with other European countries. One can find symbols in the mural –Tarot cards, clouds, poppy flowers, and irises. The visual worlds of the three artists come together harmoniously; the picture is not split in two but has been conceived in a spirit of dialogue and collaboration.

Together spoke to the Ukrainian Head of Mission to the EU and also with Philippe Leroy, Сhief executive officer of the hospital CHU Saint-Pierre, to find out more about how the hospital is supporting hospitals and doctors in Ukraine.