Ukrainian Heritage

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Since 2014 we have been working tirelessly on the strengthening of cultural relations between the UK and Ukraine. Our aim is to promote the cultural wealth of both countries, to establish and to deepen the links between cultural heritage institutions and professionals, to facilitate dialogue and exchange of knowledge, and to boost training in cultural heritage conservation. This process has seen steady progressing, with Ukraine striving to be a fully-fledged part of Europe since its post-USSR independence – but also probably since the Kievan Rus times. We have been successful at establishing a first networking platform for UK and Ukrainian conservators, which was made possible with competitive grant awards from the British Council and the endorsement of the British Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers (BAPCR) committee.

  • The core team are: Dr Donatella Banti: freelance paintings conservator & scientist, PhD, MRSC, FHEA
  • Katya Belaia-Selzer: founder
  • Svitlana Gaga-Sheremetieva: head of the conservation and restoration department of the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historic and Cultural UNESCO Preserve
  • Valeriia Kravchenko: co-founder & freelance paintings conservator with a Masters from the Kyiv National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Ukraine

We are partners with the British Ukrainian Society, Institute of Conservation in the UK and Blue Shield International, working closely with international heritage organisations such as IIC and ALIPH Foundation. Here are our achievements so far:

BAPCR members at the National Research Restoration Centre of Ukraine, Kyiv 2015

2015: Presented on the methods of National Trust Housekeeping at the UNESCO annual conference “International Practices in Protecting, Preserving and Popularizing World Heritage Cultural Properties” hosted by the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Preserve.

2015: Organised a five-day study trip for the members of the British Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers to Kyiv’s main conservation departments, studios and museums.

2016: In collaboration with The British Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers we were awarded the UA-UK Collaboration Development Award from the British Council as part of its Creative Europe funding scheme aimed at safeguarding and developing European cultural and linguistic diversity and promoting its heritage. This allowed us to receive colleagues from the National Kyiv-Pechersk Historical and Cultural Preserve in the UK. Their visit was hosted by the Ukrainian Embassy in London, the National Portrait Gallery in London, The National Gallery, The V&A, Tate Britain, The Courtauld Institute of Art and the private studios of Katherine Ara Ltd, Anna Sanden and Simon Bobak.

Ukrainian paintings conservators at the National Portrait Gallery frame conservation department, 2016

2018: Awarded the Culture Bridges grant from the British Council in Ukraine to allow for our partner, Valeriia Kravchenko, a paintings conservator from Dnipro Sidur Art School and Gallery, to travel to the UK to co-present an original paper “Migration of ideas and approaches: tracing conservation practices in Ukraine from the Soviet to contemporary history” at a conference organized by the Hamilton Kerr Institute, Cambridge, entitled: Migrants: art, artists, materials and ideas crossing borders”.

2022: Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, we have helped bring 15 Ukrainian conservator refugees, including 5 students, to the UK through the Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme. Together with a group of volunteers we have been able to find each one of them a safe home and work opportunities in their specialist disciplines, help them with CVs, organize studio visits, develop their professional networks and even seek psychological help.

Ukrainian conservators visiting the British Museum conservation department, June 2022

With support from the International Institute for Conservation (IIC) we are putting together the first English-Ukrainian conservation dictionary which is live on this website

The UA-UK Cultural Heritage Initiative is helping the international effort to deliver essential conservation materials and equipment to Ukraine. Our partners include the Blue Shield International, ICON (Institute of Conservation), ICOMOS UK (International Council on Monuments and Sites), ICOM UK (International Committee of Museums) and BAPCR (British Association of Paintings Conservator-Restorers), as well as volunteers from various UK organisations.

You can help to support our cause through the JustGiving page

Conservation materials arriving at the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra conservation centre August 2022

Read about the history of the Initiative on ICON’s website