“This is the only way I want to see our Ukraine: prosperous, happy, proud, beloved, native, strong, united, modern, charming, independent, protected!”
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Ukrainian artist Olga Wilson has been keeping what she calls “war notes.” Although it conjures up the idea of journal entries, Wilson's notes are actually drawings and short explanations (shared as captions) on her Instagram account. Updated nearly every day since the beginning of March, her digital drawings provide a heartbreaking account of what is happening in her country.
In a color palette heavily concentrated in blue, glittering stars are a constant throughout each piece. They are utilized as a way of remembrance; to those who have died either in their role as soldiers fighting against Russia or just trying to live as best they can in the midst of a war. Many people contact her directly to have their loved ones drawn. One poignant example is an illustration with a request submitted to Wilson, and she used her talents to depict Oksana Yaremenko. The ghost-like woman is pictured with long hair and blunt bangs while petting a cat.
“On February 28, 2022, as a result of the first shelling of city Sievierodonetsk, my colleague Oksana Yaremenko died,” the Instagram caption reads, “a zoo volunteer and just a good person. She always helped animals and people in any situation. She died going out to feed her сats.”
Each story, each “war note,” demonstrates the grave devastation that has come from this conflict. As cities in Ukraine are leveled to the ground, relationships and families are also destroyed and divided. Through Wilson’s work, she is doing what she implores the viewers of her art to do. She is using her energy to create good—through tributes and beautiful drawings—not evil.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, Ukrainian artist Olga Wilson has been keeping what she calls “war notes.”
“Bucha. Our hearts are shattered into thousands pieces. Beautiful hand belongs to Iryna Folkina. We won't forget.”
“On April 8 our friend Dasha died as result of a rocket attack of Kramatorsk railway station. Natalka Sosnitskaya, the founder of the free space Friends at Kostiantynivka, where Dasha volunteered: ‘She was always interested in everything, an open child. I always wanted to be a part of something big. She was kind and always-always smiled, laughed a lot. And at the same time, she was quite shy, but brave’ Katya Sobrat, SMM manager and founder of the free space Friends.”
Nearly every day since the beginning of March, she has been creating digital drawings as a heartbreaking account of what is happening in her country.
“I received this letter on April 11. ‘Yesterday we received very sad news from Ukraine. A little Georgian 21-year-old boy, Nika Shanava, died in Ukraine. He was fighting and his 19-year-old brother was with him. We Georgians will be grateful if you draw it. We will defeat evil.’ With regards, Tamari.”
“The brave pilot Dmytro Chumachenko died near Zhytomyr, taking his plane from the village to the forest and saved many lives.”
In a color palette heavily concentrated in blue, glittering stars are a constant throughout each piece.
“Oleksandr Klymenko died heroically for the freedom and independence of Ukraine. April 11, 2022 Popasna, Luhansk region. Artillery shelling. Oleksandr have been making unique handmade items. He played the trumpet in the presidential orchestra. He have been teaching children in the orchestra ‘Vodohray’ in Vyshgorod. He left behind 10-years-old son and wife.”
“‘Good day. Please draw the soldiers who died in Mykolaiv on March 18. Russian troops fired missiles at their barracks while they slept. My brother died there. I talked to him on the evening of March 17. I tried to raise money for a jeep for them. His last message—Thank you, sunshine for your care, we will rest and go back to work tomorrow. On March 18, a rocket hit barracks where they slept.’”
Stars are utilized as a way of remembrance; to those who have died either in their role as soldiers fighting against Russia or just trying to live as best they can in the midst of a war.
“‘On February 28, 2022, as a result of the first shelling of city Sievierodonetsk, my colleague Oksana Yaremenko died, zoo volunteer and just a good person. She always helped animals and people in any situation. She died going out to feed her сats.’”
“Let's support Olga. She had a happy family before the war. The bombing killed her love and father of three.”
“Under the rubble of the Kharkiv regional administration, near which the Russian missile exploded on March 3, a young Kharkiv resident Yulia Zdanovska died. This girl—a talented mathematician—was known around the world.”
Through Wilson’s work, she is doing what she implores the viewers of her art to do.
“Our community has a great loss – Bucha and the whole of Ukraine lost another great, unique talent. Honorary citizen of the city, winner of the Vasyl Stus Prize, fashion designer Liubov Panchenko passed away at the age of 85. She is one of the patriots of the 60s who, despite Kremlin pressure, developed Ukrainian culture during the Soviet censorship. All her work had a bright Ukrainian flavor, which is why Liubov Mykhailivna was persecuted and her paintings were hidden. Liubov Panchenko could not be broken by the KGB, but the artist suffered greatly during the new Russian invasion. On behalf of the entire Bucha community, I express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the great Ukrainian woman. We are left with her works and the memory of firmness, resilience and love for Ukraine in difficult times for the nation.’ 01.05, the mayor of Bucha Anatoliy Fedoruk”
She is using her energy to create good—through tributes and beautiful drawings—not evil.
“‘Be strong! You have to be strong. He repeated to her every day, as like he felt something, as like he was preparing her for something… Andriy Romanov, a loving husband and father of three children, died heroically while performing a combat mission on Zhytomyr highway near the village Zabuchchia, Kyiv region, March 31, 2022. After this mission, he had to return home to his family. But he didn't make it to return home…’”
“‘On this photo are my parents. My father—Pazych Igor Ivanovich was an onboard technician. Their helicopter was shot down near Mykolaiv region by the occupiers on March 6. Our sunshine, husband, dad, grandfather, how we miss you. You will always be with us, because we love you very much.’”
“‘Yesterday I heard sad, touching and tragic story of our friends. Adele and her friends tried to leave Hostomel and were surrounded by these inhuman occupiers. She covered her little son and saved him. She managed to call her husband and say: ‘They are shooting at us. I love you!’ She was such a bright, good woman. Now she is an angel guardian…The child was returned to the family by good strangers. His father told him that his mother is now in heaven, protecting them wherever they are. Take care of yourself and your loved ones! Peace to all of us! Everything will be Ukraine!’”
“A largest gratitude and respect for our defenders: Soldiers and territorial defense, those brave people, firefighters, evacuators, emergency service, transport workers, volunteers, chefs, bakers. Everyone who cares and helps in this incredibly hard, dangerous, and stressful time.”