Ukrainian refugee in Bedford says her art is now 'full of life'

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Maria TsymbalImage source, Theo Chikomba/BBC
Image caption,
Maria Tsymbal said she was "very grateful to English people and English land"

An artist and Ukrainian refugee said her work was "full of inspiration and life" since arriving in the UK.

Maria, who studied at the Lviv Academy of Art, fled Ukraine two months ago.

Her work has been featured in an exhibition focusing on art created by migrants and refugees at St Paul's Church in Bedford.

"Back in Ukraine, I used to oil paint. But it was on this land that I got special inspiration, joy and power to paint new works of art," she said.

"I've received special life's energy on this earth, and I wanted to express it through my art.

"I'm very grateful to English people and English land. God has given me special energy so I can create new paintings here.

"I'm very happy when I create this art. They are full of inspiration and life."

Image source, Bedford Creative Arts/
Image caption,
Artwork has been put on display at St Paul's Church, in the centre of Bedford, until Sunday

Co-organisers Bedford Creative Arts (BCA) said the exhibition aimed to highlight the need "to provide safe and caring communities to aid healing".

Bedford-based artist, JF Jacques, from Belgium, said the project, called MIDAIR, was a way to "acknowledge the trauma suffered by many migrants coming to the UK".

Image source, Theo Chikomba/BBC
Image caption,
A range of artwork is on display in the church

Mr Jacques said migrants come to the UK due to "wars, violence, persecution, famine, poverty and other threats to one's own survival".

"Yet the stories behind the trauma get rarely told and heard," he said.

"The arts have an essential role to play to bring visibility to these untold stories and to recreate the connections that have largely been lost."

Image source, Theo Chikomba/BBC
Image caption,
The event has taken place during Refugee Week

Father Luke Larner, assistant curate at the church, said: "St. Paul's Church has a long history of supporting refugees, and we continue to stand in that tradition of solidarity and welcome today."

Image source, Bedford Creative Arts/
Image caption,
A painting showing the importance of peace is on display...
Image source, Bedford Creative Arts
Image caption,
...as well as messages about friendship

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