Michael Mattalo spent his childhood growing up in Sault Ste. Marie’s West End alongside many family and friends with Ukrainian roots.
Mattalo – whose mother’s family was Ukrainian – said he felt helpless as he watched the tragedy of the war in Ukraine unfold over the past months.
“What really struck me was the poor innocent children being impacted by this,” said the 61-year-old.
He wanted to do something to help after thinking about the traumas these children are exposed to, like having fathers go off to war, or experiencing the threat of bombings nearby.
“These kids will be scarred for life,” he said.
Mattalo heard about two Canadian artists who, together, raised almost $100,000 for the children of Ukraine affected by the war. He then decided to follow their lead, but with a “humbler goal.”
“I can’t do anything directly… but I can paint,” he said.
Mattalo, who paints as a hobby, created a 19” x 19” acrylic painting called Love for the Children of Ukraine.
All proceeds after the cost of sales and shipping will be donated to Voices of Children, a foundation helping children of Ukraine affected by the war.
The piece is inspired by the colours and design of the flag of Ukraine. Each sunflower, the national flower of Ukraine, represents a life of a child impacted by the war.
He said the clouds are meant to lighten the burden on the children. The hearts piercing the clouds represent the love the world is shining upon them.
“It is somewhat whimsical,” Mattalo explained.
Mattalo is selling limited edition signed gallery quality prints of the painting, and is auctioning off the original. Prints are $100 for a 12” x 12” and $200 for a 20” x 20”.
Voices of Children gives psychological and psychosocial support to children who have suffered because of war. They help families cope with everyday difficulties, treatment and rehabilitation of children.
Mattalo is hoping that by raising funds for this charity, he can help mitigate the impact the trauma of war has had on some of these children.
Mattalo, who now lives in Mississauga, has been interested in art since he was a child growing up in Sault Ste. Marie. He still has a trophy he won for a pastel drawing he created when he was a Grade 2 student at St. Francis.
He moved away from the Sault for university and went on to a career in business. As his own children grew up, he got back into his hobby of painting.
Mattalo said he doesn’t have one “style” of painting, but many of his works hold a special meaning in his life.
For more information about Mattalo’s art, as well as the fundraiser, visit www.mattalo.com/ukraine.