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Syrian exhibition uses colour to erase the dark shades of war

Syrian exhibition uses colour to erase the dark shades of war

“War has stolen everything our children have - the houses, schools, childhood playgrounds and, in many cases, their families and classmates.”

These are the opening words in the book Light Against Darkness. They are the foundation in which the exhibition of the same name was built upon.

The statement was made by Abed Al Aziz Aidy from the Syrian refugee agency Nadja Now International. For three months, the foundation ran an art project in Shatila Camp in Lebanon.

Their goal was to provide psychological support for the children in the camp and broaden their horizons.

The joy of light in the face of darkness

Although striking, it is not the words in this book that are intended as the focus.

They are just a cushion for the 166 paintings, drawings and sculptures that were created by children during the project, the work which is now on show as part of an art exhibition in Edinburgh.

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

Brian Devlin was so struck by the concept of empowering children who have been impacted through war through art that he sought to bring the exhibition to Scotland.

He even dreams of opening up the Children’s War Museum one day.

“Some of the art shows you what the children remember of their homes and what they have been through,” Brian, 47, of Galashiels said.

“I think there will be certain paintings that will capture people's imagination.

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

“The children can't communicate with you through language but when you see it as a painting you can see all the things that people share, common dreams and common happiness based around the family and the home,” Brian continued.

With his help, the exhibition has been organised by the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre and Najda Now International, and is supported by the Church of Scotland, World Mission Council, Edinburgh City Centre Churches Together and just Festival.

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

Ourouba Deeb: “They loved the colours they used to draw their lost dreams”

Over a three month period, artists Ourouba Deeb and Nour Shantoot worked with children to help them express their thoughts, memories and desires.

The result is a mix of black and white images which range from the dreadful war scenes witnessed by these children to the bright and colourful creations based on happy memories and their hopes for the future.

Suha Wanous, 12 : "My granddad built a two storey house next to ours. A shell landed on it and now it’s gone."

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

Mohammed Abu Zard, 11: "Two rockets landed on my uncle's house and lots of barrel bombs and cluster bombs, but the house didn’t fall down. It’s built with clay and maybe stone."

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

Mohammed Aladlan, 12: "A shell landed on our house but it didn't explode. I saw shells in a video... I couldn’t understand why they were hitting our houses."

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

Ibrahim Taleb, nine: "I’d like to bring my grandmother to Lebanon because in Syria she used to bring us vegetables or food every day."

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

Jane Tallents is one of the exhibition volunteers at the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church. As she put the final touches to the exhibition, she feels moved by the power of a child's perception.

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

"What I found really moving about it is that a lot of the pictures seemed so familiar,” Jane said.

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

"Some of the pictures look like the pictures my kids painted when they were younger and brought home to put on the fridge," Jane said.

"Then you look at another picture and you see the tanks and the guns and the helicopters and the bodies and you realise the experiences of these kids."

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

"Very traumatic things have happened to them yet they are still hopeful because they still use these bright colours and have flowers and butterflies in their hearts, so there is hope,” Jane said.

  (© STV)
via STV via STV

The exhibition runs until November 12 at the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church and Edinburgh University Chaplaincy with a small selection also on view at St John’s Church. Exhibition opening times can be found here.

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