Ukrainian refugee rediscovers love for art thanks to Shropshire countryside
A woman who fled Kharkiv in Ukraine when it became overrun with Russian forces has spoken about how coming to Shropshire has re-kindled her love for art.
Olha Pashkovskaya, 44, came to the county last year after fleeing her home city, situated at the far north east of Ukraine 18 miles from the Russian border, with her family when "staying became too dangerous".
The mother-of-one had turned her hand to art in 2017, after a career in finance, but the war put paid to her creativity.
"At that time I didn’t think about the art. All my thoughts were about how my family and myself can survive. So, I can say that my work was paralysed for few months," she said.
With nowhere to go, Olha, her husband and their 17-year-old son entered the UK Homes for Ukraine scheme and were found accommodation in Clun, in a holiday home owned by Bristol professor of theology, Paul Williams.
And it was in Clun that she re-kindled her love for art.
"The history of this area is fascinating. I am very impressed how local people treasure all parts of the history of this land, back to many centuries ago," Olha said.
"When I first saw Shropshire landscapes I thought they looked exactly as described in the Hobbit book I love. And I am sure if elves and dragons still existed, they would be somewhere around, in this area. And this feeling inspires me a lot.
"It is completely different from the flat and industrial region I lived in. Even fields are different. We don’t have green hedges that surround your fields and we grow wheat, corn and sunflowers instead of grass and sheep."
Olha is now selling her paintings of the Shropshire countryside and towns, and says when the time comes to return home, she is going to miss the county.
"I will miss the local people. They are so hospitable, generous, open and kind," she said.
"They care and think for all the planet and all of the people around the world who have difficulties and they try to help everybody. That is amazing.
"On the street they wave and smile and say hello even if they see you for the first time. They love to bake biscuits and cakes and invite you for the tea.
"Seems to me I had visited more homes for the last half a year than in whole my life before I came here. So, I will definitely miss the wonderful people who live here."
Olha's artwork can be purchased from: etsy.com/shop/FairytalePhotoArt