If Miyazaki Depicted War in Ukraine: Illustrations of Yulia Tveritina
In 1945 when the World War II ended, the Ghibli animation studio co-founder Hayao Miyadzaki was just 4. Though he doesn’t recall the war as it was in much detail, he had to flee his hometown during the air raids and then grow up in the postwar reality. So the whole animator’s creative work has an anti-war underlying theme. “The Wind Rises,” “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind,” “Porco Rosso,” “Princess Mononoke” and other director’s work tell about the war itself as well as the importance to treat the Earth – and any living being in general – with care.
Yulia Tveritina, a Ukrainian artist, often sought consolation in Miyazaki humanistic artwork, but now she has to draw her works on the horrors of war in her own country. Bird in Flight publishes her story and visual diary.
Ukrainian artist. Born in Kyiv, has the National Ukrainian Academy of Arts master’s and postgraduate degrees. Her line of work is graphics and illustration. Yulia cooperates with galleries in China and Japan, living between these two countries. A member of numerous foreign exhibitions of Ukrainian illustrators.
— The last “pandemic” years I’ve been living in the Southern China, with a studio and a university teaching position here. Because of the time difference, I could follow the invasion on Telegram channels and Facebook since the very first minutes – it already was 10 a.m. here, if I’m correct. I’ll never forget a call from my mom when she simply said, “I guess, it’s started” – with the sounds of aviation and explosions in the back.
I don’t remember my exact thoughts at the moment, as well as the first week of war. I got ill right away, due to the stress, I suppose, and started drawing with a fever. Then a whole Shanghai region was totally shut down due to the Omicron epidemic, and everyone is still confined to their homes now. So, I guess, I started making art so that I could keep myself busy and take my mind off the news for some time. While making a third illustration, it came to me that I can’t work on my pre-war projects any more, and these nervous reflective sketches are growing into an entire series.
All these pictures are real stories I want to remember. Sometimes I don’t mention names, because the characters ask so for various reasons. Naturally, every day I rewatch thousands of war photos, so I have some idea on what a missile, a battered house, a cellar, a subway station turned into a shelter can all look like. Some technical issues such as choice of colour or composition come in handy to stop from thinking that underneath the picture there is a real story, horrendous at times. That is to say, all the scenery is depicted in locations I saw and can imagine, with people I know well.
All these pictures are real stories I want to remember.
My ambition is to capture the war events, but it is rather secondary. First of all, this is my main therapy now. Same as the illustrations based on Miyazaki in my insta-account used to be therapeutic for me; because before the war this page was merely just for fun. I posted micro-projects there to distract myself from yet another complex work task, or whatever.
In general, I adore Miyazaki artwork. There was a time before the war when I took up animation and was constantly watching Ghibli studio projects to get inspired. Its most meaningful films are in some way skilfully dealing with the anti-war and ecology topics, which I can relate to. Also, I’ve learned that my foreign audience – which is mostly youngsters, my students, or even younger – finds this war to be something distant and unrelated to them, as if some surreal show. In a word, this audience won’t see the objective perspective taken from the war diary, but it will be able to make an adequate associative chain for its understanding if it is based on, let’s say, a favourite film.
I receive mostly positive feedback on my works, but there is a place for the negative one as well. It’s quite peculiar to see how different the viewpoint and perception of the very same events really are, as is the range of aggression some people tend to express. But I set a goal right away to reflect the events in a most realistic and objective way possible, so in jest my works are the raw witness accounts.