Voluntary community group Standing with Giants mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with a commemorative sculpture titled ‘I Want to Live’.
The 13ft tall sculpture stands in Guildhall Square and shows the silhouette of a Ukrainian soldier holding a baby whilst leading a mother and child to safety. It also features the striking blue and yellow flag of Ukraine and the words ‘Southampton standing with Ukraine’ to demonstrate the city’s solidarity and hope for peace.
Southampton City Council facilitated the project whilst GO! Southampton funded the installation.
Founder of the community project Dan Barton worked in collaboration with artist Peter Naylor to create this piece because he feels imagery plays a huge part in war; it can send a powerful message to aggressors and show solidarity. QR codes that surround the sculpture will allow those that wish to, to donate to various charities that are supporting the cause.
The Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Jacqui Rayment said: “This sculpture made me feel incredibly emotional. The thought-provoking design stands as a timely reminder of how life has drastically changed for Ukraine and how it has impacted our Ukrainian friends in Southampton and all over the world.”
“Art can be a powerful way to reflect the challenges our societies face and here we are bringing together our tradition as a city of sanctuary of welcoming people from across the world and the opportunity to do this through art. I am proud that teams within Southampton City Council and GO! Southampton have worked with ‘Standing with Giants’, as it demonstrates that we as a city stand in solidarity with Ukraine and others adversely impacted by war. I urge those who are able, to take some time to visit the sculpture, reflect and donate to one of the many charities.”
Dasha from Southampton Ukrainian Community Group said: “It's a big honour for me to visit such kind of exhibition, which is relating to my nation and country. And it is very important that thanks to these artworks people are sharing their care and solidarity with Ukraine!”
Stephen Manion, Executive Director at GO! Southampton (Business Improvement District for Southampton) said: “Southampton has a proud history of being a city of sanctuary, and this war is devastating a country and destroying lives of our Ukrainian friends. This artwork is a poignant reminder that the suffering continues for children and families. We wanted to support and share our Ukrainian community's view that this imposing and emotional sculpture be a place to visit, pause and reflect.”
‘I Want to Live’ will stand in Southampton’s Guildhall Square until 19 April. The Standing with Giants volunteers are working with other councils across the country to install the sculpture in other locations after it leaves Southampton.