A Ukrainian refugee who came to Malmesbury in April is hosting her first art exhibition after restarting her life.

Nataliia Gerasymchuk fled her home city of Khmelnytsky for Malmesbury last year, after the Russian invasion made it too dangerous to stay.

She was forced to leave her family, who remained in Ukraine. Her mother did not want to leave her father Serhii because he is currently fighting in the Ukrainian army.

Ms Gerasymchuk’s sister wanted to remain close to her own husband while her grandparents would not abandon the home they built for themselves.

She said: “It was really dangerous to stay but it’s very hard because I worry about my family and my father whose battalion is on the front line.

“My home is away from the front line but time after time there are bomb strikes. Before New Year’s Day there was an explosion 500 metres from my grandmother’s house.

“It’s hard to be happy and enjoy my life here because, although it’s really nice and I love it, I always worry about my family”.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Ms Gerasymchuk's father Serhii is fighting in the Ukrainian army.Ms Gerasymchuk's father Serhii is fighting in the Ukrainian army. (Image: Nataliia Gerasymchuk)

Ms Gerasymchuk has remained in close contact with her family since arriving in the UK, and despite the struggle of being away from them she has managed to settle here with the help of her host family and her aunt, who moved to Malmesbury before the outbreak of war.

“I have a small part of my family here so I can speak in my language and share my feelings with someone”, she added.

“My host family are a lovely couple, they are so kind and I’m so happy that I met them. I have a chance to start my life here and everyone has been so supportive that it has made me cry at times.”

For Ms Gerasymchuk, an important part of rebuilding her life has been taking the opportunity to flourish as an artist in Wiltshire.

While she was an artist in Ukraine it was an expensive hobby, and she says that the move to the UK has made it easier for her to develop her work.

She will be showcasing a selection of her landscape oil paintings at Malmesbury Town Hall on Friday, January 20.

She said: “I’m excited because it’s my first exhibition and it’s exciting to show my art to people. I can be an artist more here and open myself to people.

“I have used art to express my emotions and to show my renewed hope in the compassion of my host community.”