Robin Richards journeyed to Ukraine with film director Clara Casian for an arresting new audio/visual project.

Photography by Clara Casian/Robin Richards


Word reached us recently of a unique project involving Dutch Uncles’ bassist and composer Robin Richards.

His most recent collaboration is with Manchester-based Romanian filmmaker Clara Casian. The 40-minute documentary they’ve worked on together – Richards has composed the atmospheric, classical score – revisits the story of Ukranian town Pripyat.

Based a few miles from the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the town remains empty. A brand new amusement park was built and was due to open on 1 May 1986. Even though the disaster took place on 26 April 1986, the gates of the park were, unbelievably, briefly opened for residents for a few hours before the city was evacuated.

Together, Casian and Richards have turned the eerie, powerful story of this place and its people into an arresting documentary film, Birdsong: Songs from Pripyat.

Earlier this year the pair travelled to the site. Here, they share some of their photos of the dramatic scenery collected during their visit, along with some words on about each of the images.

Comments on photographs 1-4 are by Clara Casian, and 5-8 from Robin Richards.


Aerial view of the sarcophagus and the Ferris wheel, taken from the rooftop of a sixteen-storey building in Pripyat, Ukraine.


The Fish Farm, re-used after the incident as a radiological laboratory up until 1996.


Boxing/wrestling ring in Palace of Culture, located in the city centre on Lenin Square.


Duga radar built for scanning territories around USSR for incoming missiles from other countries; part of Chernobyl 2 which was made in 1970.


Close up of piano in Pripyat music shop. Our guide attempted to play one of the pianos in the shop.


Books and newspapers left on the third floor in the Pripyat Palace of Culture.


Dodgems in the Pripyat Amusement Park. Used for the short time the park was open on April 27th 1986, and since subjected to thirty years of graffiti.


City hotel in Pripyat. Photo taken from main square where we were obtaining footage of overgrown vegetation.

The documentary will be screened in the UK and Ukraine with the score performed live later this year – it coincides with the 30th anniversary of the disaster.

Manchester, HOME Cinema – 30 September
Stockport, Stockport Plaza – 6 October
University of Salford, Peel Hall – 7 October