City artist paints a plea for Syria
A renowned street artist has painted a giant mural highlighting the plight of war-stricken Syria that she hopes will catch the eye of world leaders in Durban this week for the Brics summit.
“Indigo” aka Shallom Johnson spent 25 hours this weekend at the KZNSA Gallery completing the artwork.
Originally from Vancouver, Johnson, who is based in Cape Town, worked solidly from last Thursday to complete the 60m² mural.
She said it was a visual representation of an open letter from a coalition of prominent social activists, including former UN officials and thought leaders from India, Brazil, Russia and South Africa.
It called for representatives of the Brics countries to “demonstrate their solidarity” with the people of war-torn Syria, where more than 70 000 people have died in the civil war since March last year.
Among the 25 signatories were Arjun Katoch, a former senior UN officer; Rubens Ricupero, former UN Conference on Trade and Development secretary-general; Cosatu; Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba; and Zackie Achmat, chairman of the Treatment Action Campaign.
The UN has estimated that four million people in the Middle East country, most of them women and children, are in need of humanitarian aid, and nearly three million are internally displaced or are refugees.
Johnson said she hoped her mural would highlight the plight of the Syrian people.
“The images I used for reference were photographs taken in a Syrian refugee camp. The people are walking forward and symbolise a more hopeful future and the little boy is appealing to the viewer and asking why more hasn’t been done,” Johnson said.
“There are a lot of people in the international community who should be doing more to put pressure on the people who have the power to do something about it.”
The joint letter calls on powerful nations to use their influence to push for unimpeded UN humanitarian access to “reach civilians from across all Syria’s borders, any time and anywhere”.