Ukrainian sculptor who fled Kyiv accepted into Royal Society of British Artists | Art

A Ukrainian sculptor who fled to the UK when his studio was destroyed has been accepted into the Royal Society of British Artists.

Alex Lidagovsky was forced to leave Kyiv with his wife, Dasha Nepochatova, and 16-year-old stepdaughter after the Russian invasion began on 24 February 2022.

Speaking to the PA news agency, the sculptor said his friends had sent him photos of his bombed studio. Lidagovsky, whose words were translated by his wife, said: “When we were leaving Ukraine to save our daughter, we never thought it would be for so long.

“Now, because I’m so far away from my country and it looks like I live another life, I try not to think about it, to deny it, to drive this pain into the depths of my consciousness and give myself more time to reflect on it.”

He went on: “Starting from scratch here in the UK with the status of a refugee, it was very important for me to stay in the profession because I felt like I lost my voice and my language, so it was important for me not to lose my professional identity.

“When I arrived here, I just felt emptiness because I was cut off from my previous life.

Alex Lidagovsky at Fusion Arts Studios in Kingston upon Thames, south-west London. Photograph: Danielle Desouza/PA

“Compared to Ukraine, I knew the market and society there, but I was invisible and nobody knew me here, so the first step was to show up to let people see me and become visible.”

The honorary membership of the Royal Society of British Artists was an exciting and unexpected surprise, he said. “I also found out the news on the same day as my birthday, so it felt like a birthday gift.”

Lidagovsky, who was able to showcase a work at the Winter Sculpture Park in Bexley, south-east London, last year, recently won one of the five residency prizes for indoor sculpture at Lucca Biennale Cartasia, the biggest event in the art world for paper art and architecture. His sculpture, Swallow Flight, will be on display in Lucca, Italy.

“The piece will be made from corrugated cardboard and the sculpture is in an acrobatic position called swallow and metaphorically shows her leg is in the past and her head is in the future, but she’s trying to balance in the present with her hands open,” he said.

Another work, Tightrope Walker, will also feature in a new public art trail commissioned by Great Yarmouth borough council, alongside nine other sculptures from other artists, in November.

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