Warsaw, 23 February 2023 – “Creativity was and remains my most genuine gift so far. I see it as an opportunity to do what I love, be with my family, be useful to others, and self-improve,” says mosaic artist Siergiej Lukyanov.
Born in 1985, in Mogilev, Belarus, Siergiej took an interest in art from an early age and went on to paint thousands of intricate, colorful mosaics all over the world, including in Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and Greece.
The Belarusian protests of August 2020 convinced him it was time to leave Minsk and, together with his wife and sons, move to Bucha, Ukraine.
He recalls Bucha as a wonderful place, with beautiful parks and nice people. Once settled, Siergiej launched the Tata HUB project, a series of workshops in creative arts, including mosaic work and fine arts. His classes taught parents to help their children work through the psychological difficulties of displacement and migration. He also drew daily with his own children, taking comfort in what became a family ritual that helped them deal with the stress they had experienced in Belarus.
Two years later, full-scale war broke out in Ukraine. Siergiej’s wife and children fled the country first. A few months later, in June 2022, he joined them in Poland. Together, they sought refuge at a shelter in Warsaw. Supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the shelter has a capacity of 300 people, and currently accommodates 240 residents who are mostly women, children, and elderly men from Ukraine.
In Poland, Siergiej began drawing again. Together with his sons and other children at the shelter, he created over 500 art works in six months. To help prepare future workshops, he approached Inga, a Community Engagement Assistant from IOM’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Unit (MHPSS) in Poland. The unit had provided Siergiej and his family administrative support, career counselling, and orientation regarding their stay in Poland.
“I really welcomed his request as a way for him share his talents and use art to help others,” says Inga. “It was truly inspiring to see him do something special for the shelter community while displaced himself.”
Three days later, Siergiej’s first class was launched at the shelter. Gradually this became a daily activity as the interest of children, aged four to 12, in expressing themselves grew.
“Sometimes you cannot use words, but you can use paint or 3D objects. Art is a great way to express difficult feelings,” Inga says.
IOM’s MHPSS team in Poland has been active in eight shelters in Warsaw since the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine, providing psychological, mental, and social support to over 2,000 people.
For Siergiej, Warsaw represents a new beginning once again. He wants to continue working with those who, like him, fled Ukraine by helping them express themselves through art, improve their creative competences, and develop their talents. He hopes to mobilize the community and make a living from his passion.
“I feel that there is a future for my children and my family here, an opportunity to further develop and breathe through creativity,” he says.
“If we don’t stay in Poland, we will go somewhere else and develop creatively there. We will never lose hope. We will continue our creative pursuit anywhere we are welcomed.”
About the Tata HUB project
When Belarusian mosaic artist Siergiej Lukyanov arrived in Bucha, Ukraine, in October 2020, he noticed that many children were living without their fathers. His artistic talent and ability to communicate with children led him to explore the potential of creative art. He established the Tata HUB project, a series of workshops in which parents pass on their experience to children through creativity. Selected artworks created by workshop participants were exhibited at jeSienna Gallery in Warsaw in late 2022, in the presence of Siergiej and some children from the shelter. Tata HUB has grown to become an international initiative bringing together parents and children through art workshops.