From education to employment

Ukrainian student Kseniia stars as Anthony’s stunning pictures go on show

Stunning photographs by former Coleg Llandrillo student Anthony J Harrison featuring Ukrainian refugee Kseniia Fedorovykh will be exhibited at Agored23 in Caernarfon.

The pictures, depicting Kseniia amid the breathtaking beauty of the North Wales landscape, were selected from hundreds of entries to be displayed in the exhibition at Galeri Caernarfon this winter.

Dancer and choreographer Kseniia, who has made Wales her home following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, says Anthony’s pictures are “filled with meaning” for her.

In one of the images, titled Immersed, she is depicted resting on an unseen rock in one of the Llynnau Mymbyr near Capel Curig, giving the impression she is floating in the Snowdonia lake.

The second picture, Sustain, sees her on Llandudno’s Great Orme gun site, appearing to hold one of the Second World War structures above her head with the foothills of the Carneddau mountains in the background.

‘Immersed’, by Anthony J Harrison, depicting Kseniia appearing to float in Llyn Mymbyr near Capel Curig

“I have my mom, sister and brother back in Ukraine, and it was very difficult for me to make a decision to leave them,” said Kseniia, who is studying English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Coleg Menai’s Bangor campus.

“But I worry more about them, because they are in danger, not me.

“In the picture Immersed, like millions of Ukrainians, I am trying to find a safe and comfortable place for myself. When I am looking at this picture I feel lonely, disappointed, isolated.

Sustain is about my inner feelings, about the burden of connecting calm, peaceful, safe Wales, with its 20 miles per hour speed limits, with constant thoughts about air raid raids, the uncertainty over whether your loved ones will wake up in the morning, and news about a new number of dead and injured.”

The pictures, which will be exhibited at Agored 23 between December 2 and January 27, are part of a wider collaboration between Kseniia and Anthony, titled Displacement, which comprises more images taken around North Wales.

‘Sustain’, by Anthony J Harrison, in which Kseniia ‘is holding the pressures of the world from bearing down on her’

Anthony, who completed his BA (Hons) in photography at Coleg Llandrillo’s Rhos-on-Sea campus this summer, said: “The pictures were mainly meant for social media, as interesting and powerful ways that we were able to tell a story of someone who has had to deal with something very difficult.

“With Sustain, I wanted somewhere that was kind of derelict as a call out to what’s happening in Ukraine. It’s like Kseniia is holding the pressures of the world from bearing down on her, conveying how hard it is to deal with things that are currently on her mind.

“You’ve also got the beautiful background as a contrast between light and dark, happiness and sadness.”

Anthony’s Displacement pictures were exhibited at Oriel Colwyn earlier this year. He is selling prints of the images to help raise money for projects in Ukraine.

The photographs also formed part of Anthony’s assessment for the final year of his degree – which he embarked upon after deciding to switch careers during the pandemic.

Anthony graduated with a BA (Hons) in Photography
A portrait of Ukrainian student Kseniia by Anthony

“I had a career in retail,” said the 53-year-old from St Asaph. “I was manager of a superstore that had a £9m turnover. I took redundancy, which gave me an opportunity to restart.

“I’d always done photography as a hobby but I wanted to make it my career, and I also wanted to validate it by doing the Foundation degree and then the BA. I knew a lot about cameras, the technical aspects, but I didn’t know that much about photography, and that’s what I wanted to learn.”

That was where the lecturers at Coleg Llandrillo came in – particularly Tim Williams and Geoff Wedge.

“I learned about the history of photography, and the tutors were influential in me seeing photography in a whole new way,” Anthony said.

“Tim Williams’ ability in the dark room was incredible, and his understanding of photography was very influential in driving me to want to be better.

“Geoff Wedge was like an encyclopaedia of photography – he could cite anybody. He’d look at my work and straight away he’d be able to put it in context and say, have a look at this person or that person’s work. They both helped me to get much more from photography.

“The decision to come back to education was a big thing for me but I’m so glad I did it.”

Anthony J Harrison’s work will be on display as part of Agored23 at Galeri Caernarfon, from December 2 to January 27. To see more of Anthony’s work, visit his website here.

For more information about photography courses at Coleg Llandrillo and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, click here.

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