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Ivanna Kushnir upholds the traditions of Ukrainian embroidery

 

Right in the centre of Lviv there is a place the locals call Vernisazh. Works of both the fine and applied arts are displayed there for people to have a look at them and enjoy, or to buy anything they particularly like and can afford. Vernisazh is on every day except rainy or snowy days.

 

The embroidered items to be found at Vernisazh are the creations of Ivanna Kushnir, an artist and member of the national Union of Masters of Folk Art of Ukraine. She has created a whole world of amazing embroidery. Like in any other creator, there is a divine creative power in her that lets her work miracles. Her miracles are embroideries, the ornaments for which she borrows from all parts of Ukraine, either transforming them in her own manner or using them as they are in their traditional beauty.

The artist uses all kinds of techniques of embroidery. Both the ornamental styles and techniques vary from place to place and they are all represented in the works of Ivanna Kushnir.

Starting from some time in the past, the artist began using the help of her sister and of her friends who produce the actual embroideries using the design that Ms Kushnir creates. She has an eye problem and it has become difficult for her to do the needlework, but her creative powers have not diminished in the least. And her creative imagination seems boundless. The colour schemes red, black, white on white and rainbow  are both traditional and inspired by trends in modern fashion. Incidentally, in the traditional style, the colour schemes of the embroideries have symbolical meanings too.

When asked how many techniques of embroidery she knows, the artist just laughs and says its too difficult a question to answer.

Embroidery is both her calling and love of her life. But she began her artistic career as an architect rather than embroiderer. Then came a moment when she realized that it was embroidery that she wanted to do, nothing else, and about ten years ago she abandoned architecture in favour of embroidery. She does not regret the time spent on architecture, saying that it was also creative work.

She had studied the history of folk applied and decorative art, she went on tours of the countryside, looking for folk art in the villages, and asking for advice and guidance. She found several pieces of superb artistry, some of which were used for everyday purposes, like a doormat, for example.

When asked when she learnt to embroider, she says that she does not remember  it must have been some time in the early childhood, and adds that in the Land of Lvivshchyna every woman knows how to do the needlework. Even if its true, Ivanna Kushnirs skills are exceptional.

Shirts, embroidered by Ivanna Kushnir, have been bought and are worn by politicians, artistes and rank-and-file people, and not only from Ukraine. Some of her shirts have crossed the ocean to be worn in America.

 

By Yevhen BUDKO

Photos by Oleksiy Onishchuk

 

 

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