The sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine, and has always been a universal symbol of hope, with its bright spring blooms that turn towards the sun. On February 24th 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine starting a war and sparking an international humanitarian crisis.
The Growing Sunflowers campaign was launched on Monday 7th March, in response to the news that over a week since the invasion the UK government had still not waived its visa rules for refugees escaping the conflict. The campaign urges people to download and display a sunflower symbol, to show their support for the people of Ukraine, and from this year onwards to plant sunflowers every spring as a reminder of our humanity, our choices, and what we humans owe to each other as we welcome brighter days.
“From the darkness of Putin’s invasion sprouts a seed of hope, a bright symbol of global resistance against violence, war, greed and corruption. This seed knows no borders; it grows wherever we nurture it.”
– The Growing Sunflowers campaign
The sunflower on the poster is inspired by the work of celebrated Ukranian folk artist Maria Prymachenko (1909-1997), in particular her painting, entitled ‘May I Give This Ukrainian Bread to All People in This Big Wide World’ (1982). Prymachenko was one of Ukraine’s most celebrated painters; a folk artist whose work is often categorized as naïve art, she lived through the horrors of World War Two (Ukraine was occupied by the Nazis, and both her brother and husband died in the conflict) which makes the reference particularly pertinent. Her works can be found in Ukrainian museums and private collections, with nearly 650 pieces dating from 1936 to 1987 held in the collection of the National Museum of Ukrainian Folk Applied Art in Kyiv. Several of her paintings were displayed in the Ivankiv Museum, Kyiv region, which recently burned down in the conflict.
The Growing Sunflowers Campaign approached us to create their website; a simple, single page site where supporters could download the poster to display in their window to let their government know that they oppose violence, and welcome any human seeking safety in their country. We turned this project around in less than a week, due to both the simple scope of the website and the urgency of the campaign. The work will be funded through Leap’s Grant For Good.
“The build was kept very simple, for speed of build as well as performance. The single webpage is built over WordPress, which is our tool of choice for web projects of all sizes. WordPress allowed us to build quickly in response to the ongoing crisis, but is also allowed us to build something that was fast, secure and with as smaller digital footprint as we could.”
– Nick Lewis, senior sustainable web developer
“We felt that a symbol that people could display might be a better way to quietly (but powerfully) show their support for any human in need of safety in our country. People are exhausted and depressed and not everyone has the mental energy to physically go out to protests right now, or get on a soap box and lobby MPs.
We are planning on distributing some sunflower symbols, and seeds for planting around our local community in Redruth, but we’d like to have a platform online where we could make these assets accessible for people that might like to print and display their own from wherever they are.”
-Emily Sorrell and Ella Ratcliff, co-founders of Growing Sunflowers