Ukrainian artist who fled to Liverpool creates giant Eurovision billboard

An artist who came to Liverpool after escaping the war in Ukraine has told how a Combined Authority-funded course led to her Eurovision design being featured on a landmark city centre building.

Mariana Potetenko fled her home in Kyiv in June last year with her two daughters and the family dog to begin a new life in Liverpool.

After studying a digital design-themed Skills Bootcamp, funded by Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, she answered a call-out to artists for Eurovision-themed shop window art with an image featuring the 2022 winners Kalush Orchestra and UK runner-up Sam Ryder.

The Liverpool BID Company, who launched the scheme to decorate shop fronts, were so impressed with the stunning artwork that they displayed it on the hoarding outside the Lyceum building on Bold Street.

Mariana said, “I came to Liverpool in June last year because of the war and started working as an artist and medical interpreter.

“The bootcamp changed everything for me because it provided me with new knowledge, skills and opportunities – I still can’t believe that I am seeing my design on such a huge scale and everybody can see it as well.

“I am a huge fan of Eurovision and it was supposed to be in Ukraine but unfortunately, due to the war, it is here, in the city where I am. I still can’t believe it. I will watch it on TV and be proud for my country.”

Mayor Steve Rotheram and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s pioneering Skills Bootcamps programme is set to expand into more job sectors after securing a further £8.2m funding.

Mariana Potetenko and Lisa Johnson, Managing Director, Square One Training

Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said, “People across our region have opened up their hearts and homes to thousands of Ukrainian refugees over the past year – and we want to ensure they feel a real sense of belonging in our community.

“By giving people like Mariana the opportunity to access training, not only are we helping people’s creativity to flourish, we are helping them to gain the knowledge and skills they need to start to building a better future for their families.

“Because, for far too long, people in our area have been held from fulfilling their potential, not by a lack of talent, but a lack of opportunity. I am on a mission to put that right by giving our residents the chance to expand their horizons with opportunities that previously would have been out of reach – and our Skills Bootcamps are helping hundreds of residents to do just that.”

Skills Bootcamps are free, flexible courses of up to 16 weeks, giving people the opportunity to boost their skill levels in a key area or gain more responsibilities in their current role.

Square One Training in Birkenhead ran an eight-day bootcamp in digital design, spread over various weeks, covering Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and Premiere Pro.

Lisa Johnson, Managing Director, Square One Training, which delivered the Skills Bootcamp, said, “We deliver Skills Bootcamps on behalf of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and the one Mariana did has allowed her to learn all the key skills to create wonderful masterpieces like this.

“When she first came to me and told me about her life story I was full of emotion and pride that she had come to Liverpool to live – her story is truly amazing and now she is starting a new life in our wonderful city.

“That she has been given the opportunity for the Skills Bootcamp and from the Liverpool Bid Company is just fantastic.”

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority offers Skills Bootcamps across the following sectors: Digital, Engineering and Manufacturing, Construction, Green Skills, Rail, HGV driving, Health & Social Care, Visitor Economy, Creative Industries, Leadership & Management and Professional Services.

Anyone interested in undertaking the training or training organisations in delivering a Skills Bootcamps should visit www.liverpoolcityregion-ca.gov.uk/skills-bootcamps-for-the-workplace for more information.

Main image: Mariana Potetenko

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