Ukraine | Olga Rybalko
My skull brings the symbols of the diverse cultures I’ve experienced in my upbringing. Ukrainian and Russian traditional designs and colours are mixed in with the Canadian Maple Leaf. I came to Canada in 2003 from Crimea, a region in the Ukraine which has had a complex history, especially in the recent years. The region has always had a very strong Russian cultural influence; I even consider Russian to be my first language before Ukrainian. The Crimean peninsula was a part of Russia until 1954, but was transferred to the Ukraine until it was annexed by Russia in 2014. It has been a place of much turmoil because of the Russian annexation and the War in eastern Ukraine. The death toll of the whole crisis has climbed to almost ten thousand civilians, rebels, and military killed. Having made Canada my home for the past 13 years, I really wanted to bring the cultural symbols of the 3 countries together in the design of the skull, which in my mind also symbolizes all those who died in the recent Ukrainian crisis.
There is a belief that the fate of all life depends on the pysanky. As long as the egg decorating custom continues, the world will exist. If, for any reason, this custom is abandoned, evil – in the shape of a horrible serpent who is forever chained to a cliff – will overrun the world. Each year the serpent sends out his minions to see how many pysanky have been created. If the number is low the serpent’s chains are loosened and he is free to wander the earth causing havoc and destruction. If, on the other hand, the number of pysanky has increased, the chains are tightened and good triumphs over evil for yet another year. I’m hoping that my skull will serve as yet another pysanka keeping the serpent at bay.
Pysanka is being displayed at Aurum-Argentum Goldsmiths, 1351 Railspur Alley, Granville Island Vancouver, B. C. Canada