A NEW photography exhibition in York sets out to show images of colour and pride from a country under the duress of occupation.

To mark this year’s Refugee Week, York City of Sanctuary is behind the study by two Ukrainian photographers around a theme of ‘Our Home’, on display at the Friends Meeting House in Friargate until June 22.

Svitlana Lystseva and Yuliia Kushnir fled Ukraine to find sanctuary under the Homes for Ukraine scheme in the UK.

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Self-taught professional photographer Svitlana, from Lviv and living in Boroughbridge, said: “My project has built up around the Vyshyvanka – the traditional embroidered shirt which has become a symbol especially since the invasion of 2022."

She said the models – all of whom are described as ‘ordinary people’ – sensed the pride which comes from wearing these garments along with hair and make-up done in the traditional style for her shoots.

More than 200 members of York’s Ukrainian community gathered at the city’s Merchant Taylor’s Hall in May to celebrate Vyshyvanka Day, a key date in their national calendar.

Svitlana's work also features in the windows of the Friargate meeting houseSvitlana's work also features in the windows of the Friargate meeting house (Image: Kevin Glenton)

She said: "Before, many Ukrainians, especially young people, did not realize how beautiful it is."

“When women put it on it gives them a different feeling.”

“My grandmother embroidered blouses, aprons and also made red skirts and would wear the Vyshyvanka.

“She had seven granddaughters who she often wished to see in these outfits.

“I remember her and I know she would be as proud as any of the people in the shots to know that they are being worn with such pride.”

The exhibition is at Friends Meeting House in Friargate and runs until June 22The exhibition is at Friends Meeting House in Friargate and runs until June 22 (Image: Kevin Glenton)

Many of the costumes in the photos are more than 100 years old, collected and restored by the Gryvul family in Ukraine, who were collaborators in Svitlana’s project.

Yuliia Kushnir arrived just after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022 and has recently been joined by her little brother.

Her photos show the landscapes of the country, its seasons and colours.

Yuliia said: “When the sun hides, the sunflower sadly lowers its head, just as we Ukrainians do who miss home.

“But just as the sunflower always returns to the sun, we believe in a bright future.”

Rebecca Russell, from City of York Sanctuary, said: “We hope people will see that 'home' travels with us.

“The talent of these two young photographers deserve to be recognised, and we are grateful for the support of the Friargate Quakers Meeting Hall helping with the exhibition."

Refugee Week (June 17 to June 23) is said by its organisers to be ‘the world’s largest arts and culture festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary.’

The exhibition runs until June 22 at Friargate Quaker Meeting House.