'Like a giant hug for Ukraine': The grand plan to cover bombed buildings, muddy graveyards in sunflower fabric (2024)

Like the famous artist Christo, who wrapped some of the world's most iconic landmarks in silk, an Australian artist wants to wrap the bombed buildings and muddy graveyards of Ukraine in fabric.

But not just any fabric. It will be a quilt of sunflower patches.

"It's like a giant hug for Ukraine, especially for the children," artist Janno McLaughlin said as she sat in her WWII army depot home in Scone, in the NSW Hunter Valley.

McLaughlin, who has connections all over the world, saidher heart shattered as the news of Russia's invasion reverberated around the globenearly three months ago.

"Because I had that little connection with those Ukraine kids that I worked with, my mind wentstraight to them —how are they, where are they, are they OK, are they alive?"

But in a bid to turn something so horrible into a brightburst of hope, she's now on the hunt for about 1,000 quilt patches to form a huge art installation.

"I want it as big as we can get," McLaughlin said.

"The more patches we can get the better.

She said a creation that would cover "an acre block" would send a message.

"They need to feel like the outside world is looking at them and they are not alone," she said.

She said Ukraine's national flower, the sunflower, was her inspiration.

"There's something about finding a symbol that the people of Ukraine can associate with," McLaughlin said.

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She said the quilt patches also symbolised hope and new growth.

"I envisage that the quilt will be a huge 100m by 100m at least, that people can stand around and hold in an art event," McLaughlin said.

"I'd love to drape it from one of those buildings that have been burnt out, or the bombed-out train stations or on one of those awful mass graves."

Global artwork in the making

Fuelled by tea and scones, the local Country Women's Association is also on board.

Scone and District president Lyn Tout said the association was all about helping people to offer comfort and support.

"People's wellbeing is so important," she said.

"If we can send some little messages of support and love and just embrace Ukraine, that's what the project is all about."

Ms Toutrallied more keen quilters at the recent NSW CWA Conference, where the organisation celebrated its 100th birthday.

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She said patches were coming from all over the world.

"I'm waiting on some from South Africa, we've had some from Massachusetts, New York, England, church groups, artists everywhere, New Zealand and all over Australia," Ms Tout said.

'They're going to win this'

Onthe other side of the world is Iryna Pyrtko-Morozis, the founder ofcultural development and charity fund, Sincere Education.

She lives in London but has family in Ukraine.

She metMcLaughlin last year.

"She simply makes an impact every single day. She talks about Ukraine every single day. She unites people in support of Ukraine every day," MsPyrtko-Morozis said.

"We cannot all go to actually fight in Ukraine, not even be volunteers, but we all can do our own part and that is what brings us closer to each other as humans and brings us closer to the victory of justice, truth and independence."

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McLaughlin said it was hard as adults to fully understand what washappening in Ukraine but harder still for young minds.

"The way that they described it at Scone and District preschool was that people in Ukraine were sadand they wanted to do something that was going to lift their spirits, so that's how they explained it to the littlies there," she said.

"The Ukrainians really do believe they're going to win this.

"It's not a war they asked for. They're protecting their homeland and protecting their right to freedom.

"When all this horror is done, I can see [the quilt]being laid down …people coming together. Maybe we'll cry, sing … however, we are going to move forward."

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How will it all come together?

McLaughlin and her team areassembling the patches in sections to make travel a little easier.

She hopes to get it into the war-torn country by its Independence Day on August 24.

"The main goal is to make it first, then get it to Ukraine somehow," she said.

"If worst comes to worst, I'll just get on a plane and take itto Londonto [Iryna]."

She said what started as a little gesture hadgrown beyond expectations.

"Art is really powerful … you don't need to speak a language but you can be moved by it," she said.

"And in the making of the patches, there's something about it, while you're watching the news …It actually gives the maker a feeling of purpose, of empathy, it feels like you are doing something.

"Just trying to hold it together in the face of something so shocking."

'Like a giant hug for Ukraine': The grand plan to cover bombed buildings, muddy graveyards in sunflower fabric (5)

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'Like a giant hug for Ukraine': The grand plan to cover bombed buildings, muddy graveyards in sunflower fabric (2024)
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