Graduates make memorable visit to Chernobyl
Former students and alumni recently made a visit to Chernobyl along with their Textiles degree lecturer, Claire Baker.
Claire’s research of the Chernobyl exclusion zone, titled ‘Embroidery as Language‘, inspired students to learn more about this subject, creating a huge interest to visit the city for themselves on the independently organised trip in October.
The visit was organised in partnership with tour company ChernobylWelcome and provided many well-organised and safe opportunities for the tourists.
Activities ranged from exploring the ghost city of Pripyat and the Radar and Chernobyl-2 military village to having lunch at the powerplant canteen before catching the workers’ train through Belarus to Slavutcyh.
A major highlight of the trip included meeting a self-settler, Valentina, pictured below, at her own home in the isolated village within the zone. After being a working nurse on the night of the disaster and then as a liquidator, she proudly wore her medals and talked of her experiences to the group.
After meeting Valentina, Holly Millward, Contemporary Textile Products Graduate, said: “You could hear the pain in her voice as she spoke to us of the tragedy, yet she still lives in the zone, despite everything that had happened. It showed to me how beautiful this world can be, even after the darkest of times.”
Another high point was exploring Kiev city, in which they visited the Motherland statue at The National Museum of History of Ukraine in the Second World War memorial complex, and the Pechersk Lavra Monastery complex.
They also dined in various Georgian restaurants and made a visit to the Ukrainian Disco Club.
Emily Williams, Textiles and Surface Design Graduate, said: “Chernobyl has always been something I was interested in and throughout my final year at The Northern School of Art, I found myself becoming more inspired by Claire’s work and her passion for Chernobyl and the Babushkas.
“Out of everything, the most treasurable memory for me would be the bond, love and friendship Claire and Valentina, it was breathtaking and so beautiful to watch. Truly an unbelievable experience that I hope to do again one day.”
After the trip, Anita Sewell, Fine Art Graduate, said: “I learned that real heroes are ordinary people that step up though frightened, and with no regard for their own safety. Their names should be known throughout Europe.”