As an EMBracing the Ocean artist, Lera created new ceramic art pieces accompanied by text and video, which were developed in collaboration and consultation with various scientists from the Black Sea area and NGOs. The pieces focus on personifying the Black Sea and its underwater inhabitants, raising questions on investigating the scale of impacts on the Black Sea of Russian military aggression, and how to rebuild ecosystem health, reduce pollution and enable sustainable development in post-war conditions. The work aims to bring the consequences of the war on marine pollution to the attention of the public. It enables an honest dialogue with viewers on changes in ecology and society, and possibilities of restoration of both cities and underwater life. In addition, Lera has collaborated with EMBracing the Ocean artist, Michael Begg, to create a musical sound portrait of the unseen and hidden impact of war on the fragile marine ecosystems of the Black Sea and Sea of Azov based on the sonification of various open-source oceanographic data and field recordings.
Lera collaborated with the following scientists:
- Sofia Sadohurska - Board Member of EcoAction NGO
- Prof. Mykola Anatoliyovych Berlinsky - Head of the Department of Oceanology and Marine Nature Management, State Ecological University of Odessa
- Prof. Valeryi Hohlov - State Ecological University of Odessa
- Prof. Natalya Fedoronchuk - Odessa National University
- Evhen Dyky - Head of National Antarctic Science Center
- Natalia Dzhura - Associate Professor, Department of Ecology, Lviv University
- Maksym Soroka - Chairman of the PAEU Committee on the Protection of Atmospheric Air
- Dr. Kieran Tierney - Research Associate, University of Glasgow
During her project she discovered that the war has had a significant impact of the scientific community itself who have in many cases not been able to carry out their professional activities.
- A solo exhibition "Renaissance" at the Museum of Outstanding Cultural Figures of Ukraine in Kyiv from August 26 to October 10 2022. The ceramic art pieces were accompanied by written information and videos developed with collaborating scientists including from EMBLAS and with the support of EcoAction and Univest.
- "Under the Surface" group exhibition at the Kyiv History Museum from March 29 - April 16 2023 with other artists whose work explores the past, present and future of Ukraine and its relationship with the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. Michael Begg's Black Sea compositions were also included in this exhibition.
- The art pieces were included in the "One Day After" exhibition at Image Point Gallery in Kyiv from December 2022 - February 2023. This exhibition focused on thoughts and expectations for the common future of Ukraine.
These exhibitions all went ahead despite ongoing Russian military activities on Kyiv causing significant disruption.
The impact report for Under the Surface can be downloaded here.
Lera's previous work within 'Under the Surface' includes a series paintings on schooling fish, reminding audiences of the fragility of the world and ecosystems, and the need to come together to tackle environmental issues. She has also worked on projects focusing on Peace and Ukrainian democracy during which she cooperated with Ukrainian Embassies in Germany, Belgium and Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs, Mauermuseum - Museumhaus am Checkpoint Charlie and other сultural Instututions. Her exhibitions have reached audiences of more than 50,000 visitors.
Action for Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters
This project has been submitted as an action towards achieving the objectives of the European Commission's Mission Restore our Ocean and Waters, contributing to all three of the Mission Ocean objectives: "Protect and restore marine and freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity", "Prevent and eliminate pollution of our Ocean and waters" and "Make the sustainable blue economy carbon-neutral and circular", and the “Public mobilisation and engagement” enabler. Lera’s thoughts on the Mission are reflected in the text below.
Imagine a fragile glass bridge. You walk on it, but you do not see its end. Look down, through hundreds of meters, everything below takes on only a general outline. The details that fill the world below you disappear. Only the landscape is visible, in which one cannot see the diversity of plants, animals, birds and, especially, insects, inhabitants of the seas and oceans. But, of course, you can see traces of human presence. Roads, factories, an ordered system of buildings, a graphic grid of sown fields - all this will inextricably remind you of the scale of human activity. We replace the self-recreating ordered chaos of nature with the structured and stingy monotony of the needs of the mass consumer. In the fight against pollution, the most important thing is to realize that we cannot compete with nature. Our possibilities are small in terms of recreation and huge in terms of the destructive consequences of indiscriminate consumption. Scientists say that 80% of marine pollution comes from land (UNEP 2006). But, to put it bluntly, all 100% of pollution is formed by people living on land.
Again I will ask you to imagine yourself on the bridge. There is only you, the bridge and the beautiful landscape that you can see from a bird's eye view. How beautiful and how far away is the mysterious world below, isn't it? The same huge distance is between a person standing on a bridge and the awareness of the real consequences of his actions, which are directly related to environmental pollution.
The main task in the fight against pollution and the prevention of pollution is to work with the consciousness, first of all, of government officials, business owners, opinion leaders and the younger generation. After all, the most important struggle takes place in the hearts and minds of people.