Mural opening in Mariupol: renowned Japanese artist shows support of peace in Ukraine

MARIUPOL, Ukraine, 29 July 2017 (UNHCR). The UN Refugee Agency (UNCHR) together with Embassy of Japan in Ukraine have opened the “Mitten” mural by Japanese artists Kensuke Miyazaki. The mural was created on the wall of a local school #68 in Mariupol. More than 50 children from conflict torn areas together with local youngsters were drawing the mural for two weeks.

Photo: Changhun Lee

Famous Japanese artist Miyazaki Kensuke visited Ukraine in July 2017 in the framework of his global project “Over the Wall”, a global project that helps regions facing various difficulties and, in particular, the children that reside there.

His visit to Ukraine is dedicated to the first anniversary of the “City of Solidarity” initiative launched in Mariupol and the 25th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Japan and Ukraine. During his mission, Mr. Miyazaki Kensuke created wall paintings in Kyiv and Mariupol together with local, refugee and displaced children from eastern Ukraine. 

Photo: Changhun Lee

As the artist explains, the theme of tolerance and inclusiveness has become a key in creating of this art object. “The design of this mural is based on the traditional Ukrainian folktale "The Mitten", which is well known in Japan as well. It is the story of several animals squeesing into a mitten that an old man dropped, to stay warm. I thought it would match with the idea of "City of Solidarity" that the UNHCR is promoting, so I draw many people with different traditional costumes in Ukraine inside of the mitten. Mariupol has received a large number of IDPs. I wanted to express an inclusive society where people from different places can stay in peace”, explained Miyazaki Kensuke.

The event program included opening of the mural created during two-weeks’ art workshops with children, bandura performance by a guest from Japan, a workshop of Japanese calligraphy and origami, and exhibition of children’s drawings created under guidance of Kensuke Miyazaki during artistic workshops in Mariupol.

While commenting on the event, Stepan Makhsma, a Secretary of Mariupol City Council, noted: “We are happy that the world community is still paying so much attention to our country, and Mariupol in particular. It is important for us and we do appreciate it. Such kind of cultural exchange between our countries – is a great illustration of friendship. We showed the whole world that Mariupol is the city of solidarity, that first perceived IDPs as the opportunity for city’s development instead of burden or a problem. We were among those first to give a hand of help to the people who needed it most. I am truly glad that our intentions and ideals have found support far from Ukraine".

 Photo: Changhun Lee

“We saw fascination and interest from the visitors in Kyiv to the mural and so we also invited the team to create a mural on the wall of one of the schools in Mariupol located at the district that was under fire when the conflict appeared directly in Mariupol. We hope that this project will help to restore hope for a peaceful future for children who have been affected by the conflict in the East and the young generation of Mariupol", said Pablo Mateu, Representative of the UN Refugee Agency in Ukraine, while opening the mural in Mariupol.

Over the Wall Project - by creating murals around the world, Miyazaki Kensuke aims to unite the world through art, in particular by encouraging cultural exchanges through workshops involving children from Japan and children of local communities.


 For additional information please contact Nina Sorokopud, Public Information Officer, UNHCR Ukraine: +380 50 310 1767, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.