It is a case of from Russia to Blackpool with a love for art - as a South Shore hotelier and artist is on a personal mission to encourage others to find their artistic spark.
Nataliya Yunda, the owner of the Art Break Hotel on Woodfield Road has her sights on setting up a Blackpool art school.
Drawing on over 30 years of experience in the art world, she has worked with highly skilled commissioners and restorers from some of the most prestigious art galleries and museums in St Petersburg.
She said: “I’ve always been a very ambitious person and when I came to Blackpool I wanted a new challenge.
“I had to do a lot of work to the hotel before opening it as the Art Break, but I’ve been fortunate to have lots of support along the way – especially from the local art community.”
Nataliya has used her hotel as a working gallery, exhibiting the work of around 30 Lancashire artists since opening last year.
She said: “I want to give people like myself who are just as passionate about art a platform to showcase their own talents. There is so much artistic flair in Blackpool and I want to use my hotel to both celebrate and promote what is happening.”
On top of the day to day running of the hotel, Nataliya also offers classes to artists of all levels and experience. But she now has aspirations to go one step further and set up an art school in the town. She is particularly keen to nurture the artistic talents of disabled people and those with learning difficulties.
Nataliya added: “I’ve taught people in the past with special needs and I’ve always found it very rewarding to see them grow – both artistically but also as people. Art is something I really care about and I want to pass on my knowledge and love to others.
“Art can also be a great form of therapy for people’s mental health and wellbeing – it has been for myself in the past and for other artists I know. It gives people an escape and allows them to express some of the emotions they are feeling.”
And Nataliya wants to also set her own art-themed charity and use it to support victims of domestic violence. She said: “I am working on the documentation and ideas for my charity. I want to be in a position where I can help people to make their lives better.”