A tale of two folk artists

It's March 2022 and I feel a rising panic listening to the global news. Russia has invaded Ukraine. It's frightening and difficult to think about anything else. But here we are in my design journal and so I decided to highlight two incredible Ukrainian folk artists who's work I've actually discovered because of these horrific circumstances and the daily stories surrounding them. It's nice to find a little light in the dark and to share it.

So what is folk art? Humankind have been making simple marks and symbols since the year dot. Folk art comes from all over the world and is made by self-taught artists. What all folk art shares a symbolic and decorative style that doesn't aim for realism. That's the key to it's charm, it's more like a language and a celebration of everyday life and nature. Anything form walls to household objects are decorated and folk artists make useful things beautiful (since way, way before William Morris claimed that phrase). Folk art was a huge influence for many Modernist artists like Picasso and Matisse, as they began to throw realism and formal western art training out the window and seek a more immediate style of expression. It was a big deal for folk art to become so influential to the fine art world. But it did, and though we may not always know it, most artists today will have been influenced by folk style in some way, because of it's huge role in the Modernist movement. In my opinion the boundaries between design, craft and fine art are now forever blurry and it's a wonderful thing. There is an contagious joy bursting out of these artworks and an important reminder of the uplifting power of art.

So for now let's just admire this incredibly beautiful art - I hope it peaks your curiosity too.

Maria Primachenko

A small museum in Ivankiv housed 25 of Maria's original artworks and it is as yet unclear if they were lost when the museum was shelled this week - or if perhaps locals managed to save them.

Polina Rayko

As an elderly woman dealing with the loss of her family, Polina began to paint the walls of her home and didn't stop. This wondrous place is covered floor to ceiling with an intriguing mix of spiritual and personal illustrations.