The Australian Holodomor Committee honours the memory of the Holodomor survivors as the world commemorates 87 years.
The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) International Holodomor Committee is preparing to announce a Holodomor Descendants’ Network later this month during a virtual commemoration of the 87th anniversary of the Holodomor.
This initiative aims to ensure that the memory of this tragedy is not forgotten once the frontline of survivors is no longer with us.
The Holodomor Portrait Exhibition
Designed for the commemoration of 85 years since the Ukrainian Holodomor famine of 1932-33, the Holodomor Survivors’ photographic exhibition is an evocative collection of portraits of Australians from Ukrainian heritage who survived the famine and have since made their home in most of Australian major cities.
The Australian Holodomor Committee wanted to capture the faces of the living survivors of the Holodomor who migrated to Australia. Now in their 80’s and 90’s, these survivors endured intense childhood trauma and carried with them vivid memories of their pain, loss and dislocation.
The Committee was extremely fortunate to bring on board and work with the distinguished award-winning Melbourne photographer of Ukrainian heritage, Ms Janina Green, who travelled tirelessly to capture these images. Janina was assisted by NSW photographer Andrew Gavran, whilst some portraits were taken by other individuals or provided by family members. A call-out went to communities around Australia to nominate those who could be photographed.
The artistic directors and curators of the Exhibition, Halya Kostiuk and Janina Green, were instrumental in translating the vision of preserving the memory of all Holodomor survivors into an exhibition and bringing together all the elements. The curatorial team aspired to make the exhibition different to previous presentations of Holodomor. Holodomor 85 gave us a window of opportunity to photograph those still living and able to speak of their experiences, through their voices, their words and their faces. The famine they witnessed and the dispossession they faced as children has left an indelible scar, as their pain and the trauma they experienced was still palpable after 85 years. They emerged as survivors and not victims and went on to build communities and led fulfilling lives.
These are some of the last living survivors of the Holodomor in Australia. We began to take photographs in late 2017 and completed them a few weeks before the exhibition opened in August 2018. The exhibition was held between 8-17 November, 2018. Even by the Opening, and now, at this present time, a number of those photographed have died. We are grateful that we were able to capture their faces and accounts.
The exhibition in Melbourne also aimed to preserve the memory of all Holodomor survivors across Australia, accessing community archival material and receiving contributions from families. This included photographs of deceased survivors, letters, and resource material explaining the facts and personal experiences of Holodomor.
The exhibition was almost three years in the making. The Committee consisted of Katya Danylak, Chair, Halya Kostiuk and Janina Green. The Committee worked closely with the community Holodomor statewide leads, who included Rostyk Becker in South Australia and Leshia Bubniuk in NSW. They worked tirelessly over this period and their contribution is gratefully acknowledged.
The Exhibition was launched in Melbourne in on 8 November 2018 at Space @ Collins, Melbourne, and over 100 people from different generations attended the exhibition launch. The exhibition was officially opened by Ukraine’s Acting Minister of Health, Dr Ulana Suprun and the Hon. Bruce Atkinson, President, Legislative Council Victorian Parliament spoke at the launch. Also, in attendance was Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Dr. Mykola Kulinich.
From the beginning, the Committee had a vision to take the Australian portrait exhibition of living survivors to Ukraine, back to the ‘homeland’, in order to make the full circle. A partnership was formed with the Kyiv Holodomor Museum to bring this vision to fruition. The museum serves as a repository for Holodomor survivor testimonies and serves as a poignant reminder of our collective tragic historical past. We are now part of that collective experience.
The exhibition was opened by Yevhen Nyshchuk, Minister of Culture of Ukraine. Also in attendance were Melissa O’Rourke, Australian ambassador to Ukraine, Olesia Stasiuk, director of the National Museum: Holodomor Victims Memorial, members of the exhibition’s curatorial team, Halya Kostiuk and Janina Green; and other distinguished guests. An Australian school history textbook, in which Victorian teacher Andrew Pyrcz had prepared educational material about Holodomor for high-school students, was presented to the Museum.
The Australian Holodomor Committee is very pleased to be collaborating with the Kyiv Holodomor Museum to bring Voices Across the Ocean, sharing with the photographic exhibition of Australia’s Holodomor survivors. It is anticipated that the portraits will continue as a travelling exhibition to various parts of Ukraine.
Museum Visitation numbers
The Australian Holodomor Exhibition in Kyiv achieved the following museum visitation statistics in a short time:
- 8692 exhibition visitors including 12 visitors who were relatives of the Australian survivors.
- 34 letters have been written by Ukrainian museum visitors to the Australian survivors
Voices Across the Ocean travels to Dnipro historical museum – 5 November 2019
October – November 2019
AFUO Holodomor Exhibition has travelled to Dnipro in Ukraine to the distinguished Dmytro Yavornytsky National Historical Museum, opening 5 November 2019.
Фотовиставка створена Національний музей Голодомору-геноциду та Союзом Українських Організацій Австралії та попередньо демонструвалася в Києві, а тепер жителі та гості міста Дніпра зможуть відвідати його у Дніпропетровському національному історичному музеї імені Дмитра Яворницького.
Виставка «Голоси з-за океану» через фотографії та спогади, оформлені у вигляді листів, розповідає особисті історії про Голодомор 1932–1933 років двадцяти шести людей із 10-ти областей України. Після 30-х років ХХ століття очевидці емігрували до Австралії, де їх і розшукали куратори проекту — австралійки українського походження — аби зібрати свідчення та зберегти пам’ять про один із найбільших геноцидів людства.
Історія кожного героя – унікальна. Листи-спогади об’єднують голоси мешканців великих міст та сіл; людей різних суспільних прошарків, що зумовило різні досвіди виживання під час Голодомору. Обличчя цих людей назавжди задокументовані чорно-білими фотографіями.
За усмішками вже австралійських літніх людей приховуються історії українських дітей, які пережили геноцид.
Навіть з огляду на кілометри суші й океанів між українцями, їх завжди буде єднати національна ідентичність, мова, історія й колективна пам’ять, зокрема і про Голодомор. Відвідувачі, усвідомлюючи зв’язок зі свідками-австралійцями, заснований на спільному коді нації, зможуть написати листи у відповідь тим, чиї історії схвилювали та вразили.
Виставка працюватиме з 5 листопада по 5 грудня у стінах історичного музею, внутрішній дворик.
A section of the Holodomor Exhibition was held on November 30 in Adelaide: Portraits of South Australian survivors were on display, and some of those portrayed were in attendance. Letters from Kyiv, from the exhibition visitors, were read out to those present.
Other Australian venues
We are working with communities in other cities to hold all or part of the Holodomor Portrait exhibition in 2021 and beyond.