Wildlife artist, Katherine Rodger, is donating this beautiful painting of Ukraine’s national bird to Action Foundation to auction during Refugee Week

Katherine, who works out of her studio on the National Trust’s Gibside estate, said she was inspired to create the artwork by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and her concern for all people forced to flee their homelands.

 “It grew out of watching the news and seeing the sheer horror of what was happening and wanting to do something.

 “I did some research on the birds of Ukraine and discovered the White Stork was the country’s national bird and that it symbolised safety and protection and it just seemed a very appropriate subject.”

The stunning artwork, in acrylics, is in blue and yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag and features two images of a White Stork. The bigger bird is sitting on top of a nest, made up of a map of the war-torn country and the other is soaring to freedom.

Sacred bird

The White Stork is indeed considered a sacred bird in Ukraine – a symbol of peace and freedom which is believed to be a lucky talisman that can protect your house against evil.

Katherine has worked for more than 30 years as an art teacher, artist and painting tutor, both in the UK and New Zealand and she now focuses mainly on producing detailed paintings of birds, set in colourful abstract backgrounds.

Her #fridaybirdie paintings which she shared on Instagram during the national lockdowns gained a big following and these paintings were subsequently reproduced as cards, giclee prints and homeware. Eleven of Katherine’s bird paintings have been included in the recently published book ‘A history of birds in the Derwent Valley’ by the ornithologist Michael Turner.

Katherine’s White Stork of Ukraine painting carries a reserve price of £750 and bids are invited from £500 upwards. Anyone who would like to take part can do so on our online auction site here.

The auction opens on Thursday June 15th.

Duncan McAuley, Chief Executive Officer of Action Foundation, said Refugee Week was a very fitting time to launch the auction as this year’s theme is all about how arts and culture can help widen our circles of compassion.

“We are so grateful to Katherine for her compassionate response to the refugees of Ukraine and all the refugees from other countries we support here at Action Foundation.

“Whoever wins this auction can be confident that they are helping deliver real change for the people with whom we work – from free English classes to one-to-one support packages and safe accommodation.”

A masterpiece

And Iryna Chavaha a Ukrainian refugee who has been learning English with Action Foundation’s free English classes added:  

“The image in the painting really symbolises Ukraine. It’s reproduced in every detail and is truly a masterpiece!
I’m very grateful to Katherine Rodger that she is not indifferent to the situation that unfortunately currently exists in my country and which the Ukrainian people are experiencing. I sincerely thank her for her kind heart and desire to help.

“Action Foundation is an organisation that gives refugees from different countries the opportunity to learn English for free as well as other support. This world is getting better because of Action Foundation and its volunteers who are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to help others.”