Creatives in crisis: 'a new, previously invisible energy’ Banner Image: A painting of a soldier wearing military clothing. They have their hand over their mouth with guns and soldiers surrounding them in vivid reds and greens. Commissioned by Shape’s Transforming Leadership programme, this blog is the first of a series of conversations with artists in crisis situations, such as war. Introducing a season of interventions led by disabled creatives and their projects, bringing in new voices and perspectives on the theme of conflict. Content warning: themes of war, loss, death. Some readers may find this article upsetting. Anna Moshak is a Ukrainian-born freelance illustrator and concept artist based in Germany, whose life has been turned upside down by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As an artist working on Shape supported ECOPUNK 2044, here Anna speaks about her life and work in the current war, and explores what culture means personally to her in this current conflict. On the morning of February 24th, my husband woke me up, whispering: 'Get up. Call your mother. Ukraine is being bombed.' After that, the whole next month turned into one long, bloody day. We spoke to our families through a video call. My family was in relative safety, living in the western part of Ukraine. However, my husband's family and a lot of our friends were in Kharkiv. The Kharkiv region was one of the first to be bombed. Soon, we were able to get our family members out. To this day we don't know if their home is still intact. A shell hit the house of an artist friend and former colleague of mine. She said: 'It's a miracle my dog and I didn't get hurt.' She sadly recalled her new monitor, which was damaged by the explosion. I remember just a couple of weeks ago we were discussing the colour reproduction of monitors and she was excited about her new purchase.In my other friend's neighbourhood, the electrical lines were damaged. She could only draw on the computer once every couple of days. Unless there was an air raid alert. The art helped her to resist panic. 'Being thousands of kilometres away from the war, along with the fear you begin to feel a terrible helplessness. All I had was my voice.' I tried to support them with messages and was actively spreading information on the Internet, but there wasn't much I could do from Germany. Almost a year ago my husband and I moved from Kharkiv to Munich, just at the time when Russia began to assemble its troops on the border with Ukraine. Ethnos by Anna Moshak Being thousands of kilometres away from the war, along with the fear you begin to feel a terrible helplessness. All I had was my voice. Instead of artwork, I started publishing posts on military and political topics, trying to convey to the world all the horrors my country and my countrymen were facing. We, Ukrainians living abroad, were safe. So we took it upon ourselves to help the country from the outside. We organise humanitarian aid collections, volunteer, spread the word, and donate money. And we were surprised and delighted to see that almost the whole world stood with us. They went to anti-war protests, volunteered, donated money, and expressed moral support. I got a lot of messages on my social media from friends and strangers asking if everything was okay and if I needed any help. As for now, through my Twitter, we managed to collect almost 10,000 euros in donations, which I have so far distributed among Ukrainians who have lost their home, volunteers who collect money for food for people and animals, for medicine, and so on. The worldwide support is impossible to describe in words, and I want to express my gratitude to everyone who has reached out to help. The war is in its eighth year, starting with the Russian invasion of Crimea and Donbas. We have changed since then. We woke up to something that had been forcibly put to sleep, that we had been taught to turn a blind eye to, to avoid, and to be ashamed of. Our national identity. That’s why my illustration is called 'Ethnos.' Ethnos unites our culture, land, religion, language, and the unsung spirit of community. A flower wreath with ribbons is a traditional headdress, and her tattoos come from traditional Ukrainian clothing: ‘vyshyvanka.' This is what we are fighting for. Something that cannot be taken away from us by humiliation, repression, and bombs. I was one of those subjected to the slow and invisible destruction of ethnicity. I grew up in a Russian-speaking township. Fortunately, most of my family spoke Ukrainian, so I spent my entire childhood speaking my native language, even though I knew Russian well. But I was more used to reading books in Russian, absorbing Russian-language content, communicating in that language on the Internet and when writing my stories and poems. Ukrainian was 'for family, school, and documents.' Because that's how we were taught. All the 'cool kids from big cities' communicated in Russian. It was the same with books, movies, and culture. I was surrounded by Russian content, and Ukrainian became a feature of fans of 'Ukrainian culture' and people from the villages. 'And I am sure that one day I will return home. To my family and my beloved land.' I wasn't ashamed of my background or avoiding it. I simply separated it from my life, like something long forgotten from my childhood. Yes, that's a good word. 'Forgotten.' Or I was just forced to forget. The morning of February 24 made me remember. Me and other Ukrainians who succumbed to the same influence. People in my Instagram and Twitter feed who used to create Russian- or English-language content were suddenly speaking pure Ukrainian. 'Wow, they're from Ukraine! Just like me!' 'Hello, I am a Ukrainian artist…''Glory to Ukraine!' All these messages and videos affected me like nothing else. I don't think even the war was as much of a shock as the united and strong support Ukrainians have for each other. And the realisation that I was one of them made me proud. What they had tried to erase and kill in us awoke in me with a new, previously invisible energy. It is this strength that makes me wake up every day and work hard for our victory. To do what I can from more than thousand kilometres away from my native land. And I am sure that one day I will return home. To my family and my beloved land. And on the burned field a new crop will sprout. Tall, spiky wheat, against the vast blue sky. PTSD, by Anna Moshak, for ECOPUNK: 2044 Old Cyborg, by Anna Moshak, for ECOPUNK: 2044 Anna Moshak is a Ukrainian-born freelance illustrator and concept artist based in Germany; her recent work appeared in the Shape and ACE supported ECOPUNK: 2044, by Liam Hevey.