In the early hours of the 16th of May six-year-old Suzy Eshkuntana was buried alive for seven hours in the rubble of her family home in Gaza after it was hit by an Israeli rocket that killed her mother and four of her siblings. Just a few days later I began this painting of her rescue, based on a photograph by the Reuters photographer Mohammed Salem, which as I wrote in my post The Rescue would “celebrate her young life being saved, and in memory of the family she has lost.”
The painting is now finished after almost three and a half months but over these past many weeks it began to take on a new meaning for me with so many stories of the loss, pain and suffering of children being reported every day: the discovery of the unmarked graves of children from Indian Reservation Schools across Canada; the 9-year-old boy injured and orphaned in an Islamophobic attack on his family in London, Ontario; children killed and maimed in the bombing of their schools in Northern Syria; children dying of starvation as a result of the war in Yemen; and of course the never-ending loss of life and suffering of the children and their families in Afghanistan for whom all of our hearts are breaking at the moment.
I have chosen War Child as the title of my painting in recognition of the work of War Child Canada, a charity which is dedicated to “protecting childhood in war-affected areas through education, opportunity and justice.” War Child was founded first in the UK in 1994 and in the Netherlands in 1995, and then in 1999 it was founded here in Canada by the dedicated and inspiring humanitarian physician Dr.Samantha Nutt who in July 2011 was appointed to the Order of Canada for her contributions to improving the plight of young people in the world’s worst conflict zones.
If you have been moved by Suzy’s story as I have been, together with the stories of all the innocent children who have been lost or who are suffering from the iniquities of war each and every day, I invite you to join me in supporting Dr. Nutt and the vital work of her charity here at War Child Canada.
War Child – 2021 Acrylic on canvas 72″ x 52″
“Every Child Matters” has never been more meaningful. Hug your children and grandchildren tighter every day for we are the lucky ones in this troubled world of ours.
For Suzy and for all the heroes who rescued her.
“Be the light in the darkness” is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day, January 27th, 2021
From the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust:
“Light a candle and safely put it in your window to remember those who were murdered for who they were; to stand against hatred and prejudice today.”
From Pope Francis:
“To remember is an expression of humanity. To remember is a sign of civility. To remember is a condition for a better future of peace and fraternity.”
Be the light in the darkness today.
666 Day XLII – The proverb states “the pen is mightier than the sword” but how about the pencil. As I sharpened mine at the beginning of each day to act as “weapons” against injustice they became shorter and shorter as you can see. The power of the simple act of drawing is worth celebrating, for a picture can indeed be worth a thousand words.
Tomorrow I look forward to attending a webinar by Physicians for Human Rights on the “Family Separation and Reunification Efforts.” These are the details for those of you interested in attending if you have the time.
Each leaf’s a child alone and scared
Taken from the ones that cared
Kidnapped by a soulless state
That wallows in its lies and hate.
How fortunate it is that in our times
Good people exist to fight these crimes
And work to bring back love and joy
To every precious girl and boy.
Today on day thirty of my graphite journey of tears I am taking a moment to reflect on the six hundred and sixty six children separated from their parents and who are represented by my drawings of leaves from the Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver; children who are as beautiful and unique as each one of these leaves is; children who have been tortured by a policy of state sanctioned child abuse by the Government of the United States; children for whom the locations of their parents remain unknown; children who are suffering unimaginable mental anguish for which we recently learnt they were being denied mental health care services by that same soulless government; children suffering from crimes that will be remembered as some of the most heinous of the 21st century, crimes that are reminiscent of those of Nazi Germany in which children were also separated from their parents and suffered similarly unimaginable mental and physical agony that was only short-lived for many because they were gassed.
Today we thank those who are working every day to reunite the children with their parents and seeking justice to ensure the criminals responsible for this despicable crime will be held accountable, as they must and will be with the help of a new administration.
Thank you for reading.
My journey of tears for the children will continue tomorrow.
I have begun this drawing of the 546 leaves I collected today from the Pacific Spirit Park to represent the 546 children separated from their parents. As a parent and grandparent who loves his children and grandchildren so much this is my way of representing the heartbreak and the anguish being felt by so many families suffering in this tragic story of state supported kidnapping of children.
As the drawing continues I will post its progress and will be thinking of each child as I draw every one of these fragile leaves.
The letters for this quote from Virgil displayed in the Memorial Hall of the September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York were forged from remnant World Trade Center steel by blacksmith Tom Joyce.
Seeing the crushed remains of Ladder 3 on our moving visit to the museum in 2015 the sacrifice and bravery of those 343 firefighters of the New York City Fire Department who were lost that day together with an additional 68 emergency workers and the 2566 innocent lives they were trying to save has been a lasting memory.
On this 19th anniversary of that terrible day as we remember them all together with those lost at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, we now have too many other lives to remember and mourn, and for whom those words of Virgil could also have been written.
Six months ago today on March 11th The Director General of the WHO declared that, “COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.” On that day there were more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people who had lost their lives. Today, September 11th 2020, there are 28,412,026 reported cases and 915,088 deaths worldwide.
The First Responder Heroes of 9/11 and those heroes on United Flight 93, together with the Frontline Heroes and Healthcare Workers of today who have also lost and continue to lose their lives saving their fellow citizens are all in our thoughts on this solemn day.
On today’s third anniversary of the horrific terrorist attack in Barcelona this recent painting of bark from the magnificent trees in the Pacific Spirit Park serves to re-introduce my post from three years ago entitled “From Spirit Park to Spirit Dark” in which my painting of the park that day became transformed into a memorial for all those so tragically lost, as we remember them once again on this sombre day.
From Spirit Park to Spirit Dark – August 18th, 2017
Spirit Dark after Guernica, in progress
The evolution of today’s post:
The Pacific Spirit Regional Park in Vancouver is a beautiful jewel in our city, a place of peace and tranquility that I have posted about many times, and as recently as this week’s Photo Challenge from The Daily Post. On our last visit there one of my photos inspired me…
…to set up a number of sheets of newsprint on the studio wall and see where it took me with charcoal, crayon and paint.
I was happy that the image was progressing well and was close to being finished…
…and then yesterday morning came the news from Spain of the horrific terrorist attack killing and injuring countless innocent men, women and children from all over the world, enjoying a summer’s evening in Las Ramblas in Barcelona. The images were heartbreaking, and one particularly was unforgettable, a baby’s stroller abandoned on the sidewalk and a child lying motionless in the street.
I shall never forget the first time I saw Picasso’s Guernica in New York in 1965. It has haunted me ever since, and those images from Barcelona immediately brought it back to me. It is perhaps one of the greatest works of protest art ever created, painted by Picasso after the attack on the city of Guernica in 1937.
Suddenly my Spirit Park in the studio seemed a million miles away from the reality of the carnage and horror happening across the sea, and images relating to another time in history started to appear amongst the trees together with that stroller and that beautiful innocent child.
As I send sympathy and condolences to all those suffering from yet another crime against humanity, Spirit Dark in some small way is my way of protesting these evil times.
One more photo from that morning in the park perhaps allows me to end with a ray of hope in our dark world.
Post Script 17.8.20
Two years ago in October 2018 visiting the Reina Sofia in Madrid was a special day on our memorable trip to Spain, the highlight of which was seeing Picasso’s Guernica for the second time in over fifty years having first seen it in New York in 1965. Once again, standing before the painting, it takes one’s breath away with its impact as an artistic statement against the horrors of war and of man’s inhumanity to man. Sadly so little seems to have changed in our present times as we see dictators and autocrats across the world continuing to demonstrate that same inhumanity as they terrorize their own people and attempt to prevent democracies from flourishing. To my American friends all I can say is VOTE.
The painting was finished this year.
This painting from a few years ago seems now quite unintentionally to capture the times we are living through with hope and light expressed in the colours battling the surrounding swirling darkness, as petals fall. Tell me I’m wrong and it’s just another lovely bouquet.
A memorable moment of beautiful sportsmanship when Naomi Osaka supported Coco Gauff after her loss in their Third Round match in this year’s US Open Tennis Championship. In our time of universal uncertainty this was truly an uplifting moment and shows the best of what we can all aspire to. Thank you Naomi.
Germany 1939 – America 2018
Whatever happened to “Never again.”
No words except to say to those grieving and suffering today you are in all of our hearts.