Polly Braden, Sofiia, 17, at home in Gipf-Oberfrick, Switzerland, July 2022 © Polly Braden
Polly Braden: Leaving Ukraine
Mar 15 – Sep 15, 2024
Foundling Museum
London, UK

Polly Braden: Leaving Ukraine is an intimate portrait of women, forced to leave their homes following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. In this new series of work we see the extraordinary journeys undertaken by mothers, daughters, teenagers and babies in arms. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Polly Braden has used her camera to document the lives of women and children unexpectedly scattered across Europe. Through first-hand photographs, personal films and recorded conversations, Leaving Ukraine takes the visitor on a geographical and emotional journey, including the highs and lows of job interviews, first days at school, trips to buy wedding dresses and poignant family reunions, as well as gruelling night shifts – a far cry from the jobs they had at home.

The show explores four central stories focussing on: three school friends trying to forge new lives and continue their education; a young graduate making a fresh start as a lawyer in London; a mother whose baby was born shortly after a perilous escape from Kherson to Warsaw; and two friends and their children who fled to Moldova with help from a kickboxing club, now struggling to find work in Italy.

Polly Braden’s relationships with the women and girls featured in the exhibition continues up to the present moment and we see how their circumstances are continuing to evolve amid the ongoing uncertainty. As the conflict continues into its third year, the passing of time is mirrored in everyday lives, as teenagers grow into young adults and babies into toddlers.

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