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Daria Koltsova, Ukraine Scholarship holder

Daria is undertaking a Master of Fine Art at the Ruskin, thanks to the Exeter College community who came together to raise the funds for a graduate scholarship.

Daria Koltsova. Image: Exeter College.

Daria Koltsova is one of a small number of Ukrainian refugees that were granted this competitive scheme at Oxford University. She says:

"When the war caught in Odesa, I was helpless. Art lost all meaning as bombs fell onto my home. Kharkiv, where I was born and where my family used to be based, was constantly bombed. I felt pain, anger, and hopelessness. I wanted to help, but could find no suitable place for an artist in our wartime reality. For once in my life, I was ready to forget my ambitions and dreams. However, life had another plan for me.

After I fled my home, I created five new projects. I took part in more than 100 exhibitions around the world, telling the story of my country, and materialising my experience. I found a way to sublimate all the feelings tearing me apart into art. It helped me find a way to speak about the unspoken. War made me productive and, I think, a better artist, but I felt burned out and empty afterward. I remembered my dream from a previous life, to continue my studies in the UK. I have always admired the balance between freedom and tradition in British art. That was exactly what I felt was missing. War stole my previous life so I sought to start something new and grow as a professional.

The confirmation email from the University of Oxford made me burst into tears. That email brought me hope and support. I had the chance to build a future on the ruins of the past.

Here I feel safe and welcome and, above all, I have time, resources, and support to continue practising my art and studying. I am extraordinarily thankful to the 58 donors who gave a total of £27,729.07 to ensure that I can undertake this new challenge. It is hard to put into words how much the Graduate Scholarship for Ukraine Refugees means to me."

Daria's work can currently be seen at Museum Ludwig, Cologne in the exhibition 'HERE AND NOW: Modernism in Ukraine 1900–1930s & Daria Koltsova', 3rd June-24th September 2023. Please find further information here.