Year 11 pupil Eliza was recently the main illustrator in the Hilltops Ukrainian Support Community short film; ‘Children’s Voices

To mark the 2nd anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Hilltops Ukrainian Support Community has produced a short film featuring Eliza’s artwork. In Children’s Voices, we hear young Ukrainians from the community, describing their dreams for the future, made possible by the support given during their time in the UK.

We caught up with Eliza to discuss her involvement in the short film and her future aspirations:

How do you feel about the impact your illustrations have had on conveying the message of the film?

I believe that illustration and animation are such a powerful way to convey a message on par with a book or a movie. Perhaps stronger because it is easier to perceive, it is something that can be understood by everyone from children to adults. As you probably noticed, the main character in the story is a girl-artist who represents all of us - children from Ukraine who lost a part of their childhood and the dreams that we "painted" for ourselves, but still cherish hope for a good future despite everything that happened.

And of course this is not possible without support, it is Britain that glues together a picture that was damaged by the destructive force of lightning. It is very symbolic and touching. We want to believe that someone cares about our hopes and dreams, because it is very difficult to live in uncertainty and alone with our problems and grief. 

Did you collaborate closely with the filmmakers or other team members during the illustration process? If yes, how was the collaboration experience?

I was invited to help in the project, as many people in our community know that I am fond of drawing. Because I have Autistic Spectrum Disorder, it’s hard for me to communicate verbally with people (it’s easier to write), so all communication was through my Mom.

The initial idea was simply to draw an illustration in which there would be references to Ukraine and Britain. But very quickly the idea turned from a vague drawing into a series of drawings with a girl, where the details were complicated, which were to be animated as a result. I had to draw 56 layers (different backgrounds, objects and their angles), which were later used for animation. Also, this happened during the mock exam period, so it actually made me very tired. But I had to do it because this message is very important to many people. My Mom supported me and I managed to finish it. 

Children’s Voices from Malcolm on Vimeo.

How does it feel to see your illustrations come to life in the final product?

I was amazed most of all how the animation created moving from static images. I dream of entering the art faculty, and before that I hesitated about which direction to choose drawing or animation, after this experience, I think I have confirmed my choice, because I would like to be able to not only draw, but also animate characters. I think it's very exciting!

Are there any future projects or aspirations you have as an illustrator, particularly in raising awareness or advocating for important causes?

I would like to make a project that would allow society to be informed about the problems faced by teenagers (and adults) like me, namely those who have ASD. I would like to convey to neurotypical people, among other things, how difficult it is for people with ASD to live in a society that mainly evaluates you based on external features such as a smile, eye contact, maintaining small talk, and generally the ability to communicate freely.

Someday I would like to explain, in drawings or animations, that my neurodivergence is not my choice, I was born with it, and in fact, I would really like to be able to communicate as easily as I can draw. At the moment, I have neither a plan nor a plot, but I have this idea. So, I’m hoping I’ll have time to think about it after my GCSE’s are done.

Congratulations to Eliza for her impactful illustrations that bring light on important issues.