Children from a primary school in Knowsley saw their artwork go on display this week in the run up to the Eurovision Song Contest.
Pupils from St Joseph the Worker Primary School in Kirkby worked with visual artist Jo Eyles to decorate an egg which was unveiled at Liverpool ONE on Thursday 30 March.
Inspired by the Ukrainian and Eastern European tradition of egg painting, Pysanka Eggs is a partnership between Liverpool ONE and Liverpool City Council.
The project is part of EuroLearn, made possible thanks to generous funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund with additional funds from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Funding from Spirit of 2012 will also support EuroLearn as well as the future evaluation of Eurovision’s benefit to the city region.
St Joseph the Worker Primary School won the chance to take part in the project after Ukrainian pupil Mykhailo Pailli’s entry was picked from hundreds across the borough. He wrote: “My school is a place of love and safety where I thrive”.
The Knowsley egg, Singing Nightingale Watch in the Meadow, features a large nightingale sat on a viburnum willow branch and a flock of smaller nightingales in the flag colours of the 37 competing nations in Eurovision.
Jo explains: “The nightingale is significant because in Ukrainian culture the songbird is a creator of sweet sounds, a builder of homes and a harbinger of spring; all appropriate to represent the time of year and the theme ‘United by Music’, as well as to welcome both displaced people and a festival that was itself without a home until Liverpool adopted it.
“Above the large nightingale, circling the sun is a Vinok, a traditional crown made of flowers and ribbons worn in Ukraine during folk dances and festivals. The flowers and feathers of the bird were made by the children then cut out and collaged onto the egg using decoupage techniques.
“The birds are flying across a blue sky with a yellow sun at the top and a wheatfield at the bottom to represent the flag of Ukraine. I’ve also used the Petrykivka tradition of painting floral motifs within birds.
“The red viburnum (kalyna) branch in my design was an additional touch after I chatted with Mykhailo’s Mum and learnt that this is highly symbolic in Ukraine, representing love, courage, and the soul of the nation.”
Mykhailo’s mother Inna said: “We are so proud that Mykhailo’s school was chosen to take part in the project thanks to his entry. It was very hard for him to change schools when we fled from Ukraine last April but the teachers and children have really helped him settle in.
“The viburnum willow is very special in Ukraine. When the war started, a lot of singers wrote new songs about the tree so I am very touched that the artist has chosen to include it on her design.
“I am very excited to see the egg. We are so far away from our home so to see a part of our home represented in Liverpool makes me feel very happy.”
Jude Ryan, Headteacher at St Joseph the Worker Catholic Primary School, said: “We were delighted to have this opportunity to work with Jo on this amazing project. Mykhailo and his family have brought so much to our school community. Our children have benefited greatly from the chance to learn about Ukrainian culture, they have welcomed and embraced their new friend helping him settle into our school.”