Tuesday, June 18, 2024

James Bay art gallery sold driftwood sculpture of Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy for a good cause


Studio 106, an arts hub and gallery in James Bay, was host to a sculpture of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that was recently sold for a charitable cause. 

Local artist and sculptor, Tanya Bub created the driftwood sculpture of Zenlenskyy called Portrait of a Hero with the intention of raising awareness for the ongoing war and strife in Ukraine.

She has worked with driftwood as her main art medium for four years and has created many high profile pieces including the driftwood animals seen at the Malahat Skywalk.

Bub’s latest piece is a nine foot sculpture that has been displayed in front of Studio 106 on Superior Street in James Bay since the gallery opened its doors this summer. 

The sculpture was well known to locals and tourists alike and had a reputation for drawing people in and being a conversation starter. 

Bub made Portrait of a Hero back in February when the war in Ukraine was in its beginning stages.

“There was an urgent feeling of wanting to do something,” Bub told Victoria Buzz. “Beyond making a donation to a humanitarian fundraiser I made a sculpture in that three week block.”

Bub said she is not Ukrainian and has no immediate ties to the country under siege, but she was really moved by the President’s character.

“Zelenskyy became not only a person and a leader but a symbol for the people of Ukraine’s courage.”

“He seemed to be almost a personification of the strength, resilience and resolve of his people.”

The sculpture of Zelenskyy features a nightingale – Ukraine’s national animal – held to the President’s heart and the blue and yellow colours of the country’s flag inside the sculpture’s head. 

The sculpture featured a QR code so people could directly donate to the Ukrainian cause and was always meant to be a fixture of goodwill toward Ukrainian refugees. 

A local lawyer and appreciator of art in many forms, Kate Kempton, was especially moved by the piece. Kempton inquired with the gallery and the artist about purchasing the sculpture. 

Bub was glad to have her art appreciated but hadn’t initially intended on selling the sculpture. 

She and the owner of the gallery, Marlene Madsen, discussed how they could sell the piece in a way that could benefit the Ukrainian refugee community.

“We decided that the three of us could each make a donation of $1000 each, then the sculpture would fulfill its legacy,” said Madsen. 

“It felt really nice to have three women that could come together and make this donation possible.”

Their donation of $3,000 was given to Ukraine Vancouver Island Society, who house and provide for Ukrainian refugees who come to Canada with absolutely nothing. 

The sculpture is no longer displayed in front of the gallery. It is to be suspended inside Kempton’s home until it can be utilized in an ongoing project she has—opening a theatre called Theatre Skam with and for local playwright, Matthew Payne.

The space the sculpture inhabited is intended to host more art with purpose in the future. Madsen wants to always have art on display that can move people to give awareness and donate to worthy causes. 

“Now that the piece is sold, we’re brainstorming about what should go there next,” said Bub. 

“We’d love to do something that people are really interested in, which draws a crowd and creates conversation so we invite the community to come and give input on what they’d like to see next.”

Curtis Blandy

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