There’s no easy way to talk about war, which is perhaps why images often resonate so strongly during difficult times as ways to record, communicate and raise awareness for those suffering. Here, Ukraine-born, New York-based photographer Sergiy Barchuk reflects on his childhood memories of Ukraine and his new Instagram print sale which will donate all proceeds to Ohmatdyt, a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

Wallpaper*: The vivid blue and yellow images that reference Ukraine’s flag are very powerful, particularly when paired alongside the image of you swimming with your mother as a child. What has this time been like for you? 

Sergiy Barchuk: To be honest, it’s been emotional and difficult. It’s heartbreaking to see the violence and destruction that overtook the country. All of my childhood memories from there are very peaceful and happy (in my mind, I’m forever eight years old, sitting in a tree and eating an apple), so to see the grief there now has been painfully surreal.

Sergiy Barchuk photography print sale Ukraine
Sergiy Barchuk photography print sale Ukraine

W*: All proceeds from your sale will benefit Ohmatdyt in Kyiv, Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital. Can you tell us more about your connection with Ohmatdyt and the work they’re doing? 

SB: I had various health problems as a kid, so my dad took me there to get looked at. When I saw Ohmatdyt in the news my heart sank; when you recognise something from your past and then connect it with the horrible images you see on the screen, it’s a sickening feeling; somehow it makes it even more real. My family members who have little kids have been able to flee the country, and we’re very grateful for their safety. But of course, there are so many other children that have stayed behind and are being admitted due to injuries of war; the hospital staff there committed to staying with the patients and taking care of them. That level of commitment and sacrifice is really inspiring and moving. I just wanted to do something to support them through this time.

W*: How can readers support? 

SB: I am selling some prints through my Instagram. All proceeds will go to Ohmatdyt. The other organisations that are worth checking out are Razom (Ukraine-specific humanitarian aid) and Save the Children (international humanitarian aid for children). While the conflict in Ukraine is close to my heart, there are children all over the world who need assistance. It’s been amazing to see the amount of support and care that Ukraine is receiving; it gives me hope that humanity will continue to come together to support each other with all of the other issues that are facing us all. §

Sergiy Barchuk photography print sale Ukraine
Sergiy Barchuk photography print sale Ukraine
photography print sale Ukraine
photography print sale Ukraine
photography print sale Ukraine
Above: Personal family photograph from Barchuk’s childhood in Ukraine, kindly shared by the artist