Through Young Eyes, a series of drawings by Palestinian teenagers who lived through the Israel Gaza conflict in the Gaza strip of summer 2014 will be exhibited at locations across Wales as part of Gaza on Gaza, a wider exhibition of work by Palestinian artists.
Coinciding with Christian Aid’s 70th anniversary, among the locations where the exhibition is to be displayed are Brecon Cathedral, St John’s Church in Llandudno and Plas Tan y Bwlch in Snowdonia with other venues likely to be added.
The young artists participated in a project run by Christian Aid partner Culture and Free Thought Association (CFTA), an organisation which provides therapeutic activities for children and young people.
After the ceasefire, which ended 51 days of conflict, the teenagers, supervised by CFTA, went out to shelters to meet other children and listen to their stories. These stories and discussions, their own experiences and what they heard on the news and from within their communities, inspired the illustrations on display.
Lama Shakshak, 16, from Gaza explains: “My paintings express the rights of Palestinian children to live in an environment that is safe, without conflict and violence. Palestinian children still stand despite the difficulties and destruction surrounding them. CFTA has really helped me by giving me pencils and paints to draw my suffering. I feel when I draw that something in my heart is released.” The conflict claimed over 1,500 civilian lives and displaced 500,000 people from their homes. The UN estimates that nearly 400,000 children require some form of mental health support to cope with the events they witnessed or experienced over the summer of 2014.
CFTA provides vital support to young people giving them the opportunity to learn, play and grow their talents in as safe a space as can be provided. The organisation encourages them to express themselves and fulfil their dreams to become artists, writers, musicians or actors – and to join together and use their skills to ensure that their voices are heard.
Anna Jane Evans, Christian Aid’s Regional Coordinator in Wales said: “We are delighted to be bringing this new exhibition to Wales and hope that they will give us a new insight into the lives of those who lived through the Israel Gaza conflict. We hope a lot of people will be inspired by the paintings, the stories they hear and realise the difference we can make together to the lives of the people in Gaza.”
Gaza on Gaza is curated by the Gaze on Gaza campaign, Christian Aid and the Palestinian Arts Festival in partnership with P21 Gallery.