By Ayman Qwaider (@AymanQwaider)
Small Moments of Beauty and Truth, the art exhibition, was held at the Waterfront Pavilion in Hobart, Tasmania from 18th to the 22nd of September. Some of the Hobart’s most talented artists, exhibited and auctioned their art, with the aim of raising awareness of the plight of Palestinian children and raising fund for the Gaza Children Cinema initiative, a community-based initiative in Gaza aiming at providing spaces of fun, joy and reflection for children in Gaza, Palestine.
Richard Skinner, a stalwart of the thriving Tasmanian art scene, conceived and curated the exhibition. “This exhibition started from the simple idea that engaging in the world and committing to change, can begin by focusing on the small, shared moment”, explains Richard. “Acknowledging these shared moments of humanity brings us out of our insularity and small-mindedness to a mindset of generosity and expansiveness”
The exhibition featured work from nine visual artists, whose work was inspired by the theme of childhood: Di Allison, Paul Bailey, Irene Briant, Dean Chatwin, Belinda Hall, Patrick Hall, Julie Gough, Pete Maarseveen and Julie Monro-Alison; and a powerful written piece by Australian-born Palestinian writer, Samya Jabbour.
The exhibition also displayed 39 prints of artwork produced by children in Gaza, who have participated in the Gaza Children Cinema workshops. The array of colours used in those paintings reflect some of the most common childhood interests including their love of nature, their families and surroundings, but these prints also expressed their gloomy reality of fear, war, imprisonment, and loss. This collection of artworks on the theme of “sounds that are important to me” provided a powerful glimpse into the spectrum of experience of children in Gaza – titles included birdsong, the call to prayer, my inner voice, father’s anger, torture of the prisoner, and tank tracks. This beautiful, but confronting and haunting artwork proved to particularly engaging for the visitors of the exhibition.
Photos of children’s everyday life in Gaza as captured by Mohammed Zaanon, Gaza-based photojournalist, were also displayed. His work dramatically illustrates the scope of destruction impacting every aspect of children’s life, especially the aftermath of the Israeli offensive of 2014, yet they also displayed the children’s constant pursuit of moments of joy amidst the destruction.
The exhibition was an opportunity to share a glimpse of the lives of children in Gaza with the community in Hobart through artwork. The Hobart City Council supported the exhibition. The opening night was attended by influential politicians including Lisa Singh, Andrew Wilkie and Ella Haddad. Lisa Singh’s opening speech highlighted an understanding of the plight of Palestinians and its impact on children. Her speech mentioned amongst many things the recent bombing of El-Mishal Centre, which was one of the few cultural centres in Gaza working with children.
A children’s workshop was organised by Hobart-based educator, Catherine Morse, as part of the exhibition activities. Children and their families in Hobart were invited to take a tour of the exhibition, where they listened to Catherine explain what it is like to live in Gaza as a child, as well explain part of the artwork the children in Gaza produced. Children then were able to respond by producing artworks of their own, of sounds that were important to them. This artwork collaboration between Tasmania and Gaza is very important for children in Gaza, as it shows their work can reach out beyond Gaza’s blockaded borders and form a kind of dialogue across the world.
This was my first visit to Tasmania. I enjoyed the nature, the mountains, the lakes and unique greenness of the state. People were very welcoming and eager to listen, learn and engage. This was a distinctive platform for me to speak about my own childhood as a Palestinian born and raised in the Gaza Strip. I talked about life under occupation and siege and about a whole generation being caught by conflict and instabilities. I appreciate both the warm hospitality and the opportunity offered by our Tasmanian friends.
This event was strongly patronised by the wider Tasmanian community and given strong coverage by the local media. We are humbled and sincerely grateful. As a fundraising event, the night was a great success, and will provide funds to help us provide more movies, and support for the kids in Gaza.
For more information on the event, please visit this link.
Gaza Children Cinema is a self-funded independent community initiative with no faith or political affiliation. It was iniated by two professionals in Gaza- Palestine in 2013 to provide children in Gaza with spaces for self-expression, entertainment and active participation.
Help us in reaching more children in Gaza through donating to this initiative. in 2016, we crowdfunded this initative by raising 6,000 US dollars. Using this fund we were establish a partnership with 7 community based organizations through a key non-governmental organization in Gaza (Tamer Institute For Community Education)
We do appreciate collaboration and feedback and we are open to build on professional experiences in this field. Please don't hesitate to write us for ideas and suggestions to improve the service and extend these spaces. We do appreciate any form of solidarity and support.
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Gaza Children Cinema Team