FRIDAY LAST WEEK (24TH FEBRUARY 2023) MARKED THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE INVASION OF UKRAINE. THE NIGHT BEFORE, THOUSANDS CAME TO TRAFALGAR SQUARE FOR THE UNITED FOR UKRAINE VIGIL SHOWING SOLIDARITY FOR THE UKRAINIAN PEOPLE; THE ONES WHO FIGHT, THE ONES DISPLACED AND THE ONES NOW LOST. WE WERE HONOURED TO BE PART OF THE EVENT.
Four weeks ago, Marcel (Lead Producer) and Tony (Creative) didn’t imagine their work might contribute to this poignant, painful milestone. But despite tight timelines and challenging circumstances, Shape History played a small part in marking the occasion, and importantly putting a spotlight on the vital support needed for Ukrainian families to rebuild their lives. In collaboration with The Tent Partnership for Refugees, our animation, To Whom It May Concern, calls on companies around the world to play their part in supporting the Sunflower Project, a programme designed to create pathways for Ukrainian women to find employment.
When Russia marched over the Northern and Eastern Ukrainian borders, no one knew how long the invasion would last or how it would unfold. Millions fled the country, mainly women and children, while those who stayed took up arms to fight for their homeland and their communities. For some families that has meant permanent resettlement, for others, temporary safety on foreign soil. But this work wasn’t about spotlighting war. The animation was always about what the sunflower represents for Ukraine, a symbol of hope for what the future holds.
To Whom It May Concern tells the collective story of countless Ukrainian women thriving before the outbreak of war, growing their careers, developing their skills and their hope to thrive again.
Through a series of local London networks, and with Tent’s support, we were able to conduct interviews with inspiring Ukrainian women who are now based in the UK and the Netherlands. Their stories were incredibly powerful. This gave us inspiration for our narrative. A narrative not about war, but one about the resilience and strength of these women who are professionals, leaders, parents, before they are refugees.
Next came art direction.
Marcel discovered two incredible Ukrainian illustrative artists based in Kyiv who were able to bring Tony’s original art direction to life. Their work in the most severe conditions – at one point experiencing city-wide blackouts – is exceptional, drawing on traditional Ukrainian tropes with a modern twist. For example, traditional Ukrainian painting styles such as Petrykivka were imbued subtly throughout the animation in the depiction of flowers, particularly sunflowers.
At Shape History, we’re wholly committed to co-design principles and elevating the voices of those directly impacted by the social issues we work on. With that in mind, we’re incredibly proud to have consulted and employed Ukrainian women in the production of To Whom It May Concern, elevating its authenticity and resonance, and ultimately, creating more employment opportunities for women across Europe.
We are hugely grateful that Tent put their trust in us to convey the urgency of their message to global business – that Ukrainian women are able, skilled, ambitious people who, yes, want to provide for their children and families, but also deserve opportunities to continue their professional livelihoods.
Find out more about Tent and the Tent European Business Summit here.
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