This morning it was reported that 353 beautiful, innocent Ukrainian children have been killed by merciless Russian troops under the direction of a despicable war criminal in the Kremlin, and more than 662 children injured since the war began on February 24th. I painted these sunflowers in the studio today in their memory just as I had painted sixteen sunflowers on February 27th when we then learned that 16 children had been killed in the first three days of the war. We continue to grieve with their families as these crimes against humanity continue and hope that the brave people of Ukraine know that they are always in our thoughts and will be each and every day until this twenty first century “massacre of the innocents” is over. 💙💛
As the relentless bombing continues today, the war crimes against the people of Ukraine, especially the children, by Putin and his nazified Russian army will never be forgotten. Judgement day for him must come soon, whether from the people of Russia who do not support him, or from the newly proposed Nurenberg-style international tribunal. He has joined the ranks of every evil despot in history becoming a modern-day Hitler with crimes against humanity that have no regard for human life, however young, those beautiful innocent children who are always in my thoughts as I know they are in yours.
We walked in the Pacific Spirit Park today after listening to President Zelenskyy’s impassioned address to the Canadian Parliament in which we learnt that ninety seven children have been tragically killed in his beloved country together with so many of the country’s brave men and women and now including three brave journalists. Our condolences and thoughts are with all the families, friends and colleagues grieving today.
This drawing is from a larger piece from 2017 drawn in protest at that time to an event that had produced the same sense of heartbreak and outrage that I know we all feel today. Some of you may remember the full piece can be seen here: “From Spirit Park to Spirit Dark”
These sunflowers are a message of love and support as we continue to Stand with Ukraine.
From Giotto to Picasso, from Guernica to Mariupol, another Massacre of the Innocents today with the bombing of the Maternity and Children’s Hospital of Mariupol, a crime against humanity that is a despicable atrocity that needs us to bear witness to in any way we know how. My drawing today, which will become a painting in due course, is born from a profound sense of helplessness and heartache that I know is felt by us all. 💙💛
On this International Women’s Day my thoughts are of the women and children of Ukraine and of the mother and her two children killed by Russian mortar fire in Irpin and of the photojournalist Lynsey Addario who bravely risked her life to record this crime for all the world to see, and who with so many other brave women journalists with their male colleagues are ensuring the documentation of the history of these dark times. Together with the brave Ukrainian women who are fighting for their country they are all true heroes on this International Women’s Day of 2022. 💙💛
As the horrors and heartbreak of each day continue in Ukraine the photo of a little six-year-old girl lying lifeless on a gurney in a hospital in Mariupol under the coat she was wearing just an hour or two before, has been seared into my mind. The doctors who fought so hard to try and save her life exclaimed after she died “Show this to Putin.” These simple drawings loudly echo their words as, with broken hearts, we all continue to Stand With Ukraine.
The brave Russians demonstrating against their own government across the country in opposition to the war, with more than 1800 arrested, are heroes all, providing a glimmer of hope for an uncertain future and a little light in the darkness as the bombs continue to fall in Ukraine tonight, with the sheltering families and children very much in my thoughts.
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.
Today I grieve with my treasured Muslim friends and colleagues mourning the loss of such a beautiful family in London, Ontario who were just out for an evening walk, and thinking of their 9 year old son in hospital, orphaned by such a despicable crime of terrorism and hate. I will always stand with you against Islamophobia, hatred and racism of any kind. My heart breaks with yours as I send my deepest condolences to all of their family and friends in mourning tonight.