• November 01, 2022

Have you ever seen the Black Sea through the eyes of the kids?

In September 2022 EU-UNDP project “European Union for Improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea” (EU4EMBLAS), jointly with the creative space “Dialogues”, Odesa, Ukraine started a unique school. It unites art and science for the kids from the temporarily occupied territories and territories under the war conditions in Ukraine. The project got the title “Black Sea diary – 2022” because the idea was that each kid would create a story about his / her marine inhabitant and drawing, which would form a page of this book (lookhere).

The fundamental goal of the project was as follows:

• to bring knowledge about the Black Sea offline (it is worth mentioning that because of the russian missiles threat, most of the schools work online only in Odesa);

• to support children’s creativity;

• to create a space to interact safely with the marine scientists and artists and make new friends (as far as the target group was displayed kids, they suffered from the lack of communication and involvement as most of them lost their homes and friends).

As one of the marine scientists Aleksandr Zakletskyi mentioned: “This year we faced two problems: the Black Sea is dangerous because of mines, and kids from the coastal regions of Ukraine have physiological traumas because of the war.” The answer to this was to get them involved in the school.

For almost two months, 29 kids from Kherson and Kherson Oblast, Mykolaiv, Dnipro and Donetsk Oblast, and Odesa studied in the school. The age of participants was from 5 years to 12 years old. First of all, marine scientists made presentations for kids about the Black Sea biodiversity; then a kid had to select his / her underwater hero for research, and then professional artists helped them to create their masterpieces in unusual techniques of graphics, assemblage, and collage.

The result was unexpectedly beautiful from scientific and artistic points of view. The kids created 38 artworks – portraits of marine inhabitants: crabs, dolphins, jellyfish, different fish species, and even marine turtles and monk seals who lived in the Black Sea earlier. Because of the energy short cuts some kids finalized their work with candles.

The kids also wrote stories about their artworks, which became a part of the book “Black Sea diary – 2022”. Here are some thoughts from their stories:

🔹I wish the Black Sea to see the war’s end because the sounds of explosions scare or kill its inhabitants…

🔹People should think over about marine litter and the danger it has for marine life.

🔹I wish the Black Sea to be clean and bright, as before.

🔹If another crab wants to get your territory, you have nothing to do but to defend it.

🔹 I wish the Black Sea to be mine free…

🔹 For me, the Black Sea is a living body with many different marine inhabitants inside.

🔹 People should respect the Black Sea!

🔹 I wish my underwater hero to stay calm…

🔹 I wish my crab found himself food and had a tasty dinner.

🔹 Ray fish should never be alone…

🔹 I wish to reach harmony between the Black Sea and its inhabitants.

Some artworks were selected for the Black Sea stamps, which were honorably presented to the International Black Sea Day in Odesa. However, the main achievements of our school is to get kids more involved with the Black Sea and to act as a kind of art therapy.

All the works were presented as an exhibition for two weeks in the art gallery in Odesa. Here are some visitors’ reflections: “I thank the authors and their teachers for such a nice trip to the marine and phantasy depths. Stories, hero’s characters inspire and create good feelings. It is hard to stop – I want to go more and more in circle and study them”.

The project searches for opportunities to present this exhibition in other countries.

Press coverage was national wide:

1.Refugee children draw stamps with the sea for the collection of philatelists (ТСН)

2. Five types of stamps dedicated to International Black Sea Day were issued in Odesa (УНІАН)

3. Five types of stamps dedicated to International Black Sea Day were issued in Odesa (Odesa Online)

4. Postage stamps dedicated to International Black Sea Day were canceled in Odesa (Grad.ua)

5. Postage stamps dedicated to International Black Sea Day were canceled in Odesa (Новини LIVE)

6. Black Sea Day: why this year it is not a holiday, but an important date (7 телеканал)

7. 5 unique stamps dedicated to the Black Sea were canceled at the main post office of Odesa (7 телеканал)

8. The wedding of seahorses and the birthday of a ray: Odesa residents were shown a child’s vision of the underwater ecosystem (Думська)

9. An unusual exhibition of children’s artworks dedicated to the Black Sea Day has opened in Odesa (Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine)

10. Black Sea diary school (Radioday)