When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Kyiv-based British artist Mark Neville fled to Poland. In March 2022, Mr. Neville briefly returned to Kyiv to retrieve his camera equipment. When he returned to Kyiv once more in April, Neville established Postcode Ukraine, a charity funded by a photography collector who had received a copy of Mr. Neville's first activist book, Stop Tanks with Books, and who had immediately offered to help. Through Postcode Ukraine, Neville has provided funding and logistical support to grassroots Ukrainian charities that deliver food and medical supplies to residents of villages devastated by the Russian invasion.
Neville emphasizes the importance of both humanitarian aid and photography in his work. “Our mission has not just been about delivering humanitarian aid,” says Neville. “It was essential to make thoughtful images and present them in resonant contexts to compassion-fatigued Western audiences in order to help people re-engage with Ukraine. For example, large prints of my Ukraine photographs and copies of my photo book are currently on prominent display at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London. The war is not over, there are still many battles to fight, and by helping Ukraine, we help ourselves.”
Of his photo Children from Bogdanovka inside Their Burnt-Out School Bus, Kyiv Region, Neville recounts, “I pictured these children almost as ghosts, attempting to reclaim the ruins of the school that the Russian army blew up and mined during their retreat.”