“I would like you to paint the word “Unión”. It’s what I like about this neighbourhood. We’ve been through a lot these last few years with the crisis, but people have stuck together in survival mode. We look after our neighbours, and help them out if they’re in need of water, food or some help with fixing something.”
– Sheherazade, 17 years old
This is my first mural in Venezuela!
Yoana chose the word “Memoria” (Memory). She told me this wall is for the people she has lost and in particular her father which was killed 6 years ago and the father of her children who got killed 6 months ago in the neighbourhood. She told me that everyone can relate because we have all lost people who we keep in our memories.
For me personally this wall is for my lovely, creative and stylish Wendy – who always chose the best patterns and colours – and who died before art became my job, but who’s in the back of my mind whenever I paint.
Starting a new episode of “Share The Word Project” in Venezuela!
I’ll be staying and painting for one month in Petare, one of the largest slums in latin America located in the capital city Caracas.
These last 6 years I’ve been working on a project which I’ve called “Share The Word Project” and which takes place in slums, favelas, and refugee camps around the world. The idea is to paint on people’s houses words that they choose. The goal is to bring attention to margilalised communities through the people’s own words.
For the next month I’ll be sharing what the people of Petare, Caracas want to share with us all.
I completed this bridge in Saint-André-lez-Lille in the North of France. I was asked to make the bridge more visible because many trucks have been hitting it due to drivers not paying attention. Hopefully this will prevent vehicles from being beheaded, but more importantly I’m glad that the locals are loving it. Their neighbourhood desperately needed some art! Thank you to the locals for their welcome!
This was painted using spray paint and a broom. No stencils (I say this because people often ask me), no masking tape, no rulers. Freehand spraying only.
Rafif chose the word الحياة which means ”life’ in Arabic.
Rafif is 11 years old and has a whole life ahead of her. She hopes that somehow it will be good, and that Palestinians will be able to live in peace. She doesn’t know what that will look like but she wants it badly.
I tried putting all those positive vibes into my piece by adding some movement and energy. I’ve known Rafif for a year and a half and she’s just so sweet and generous with everyone. It’s unusual for me to paint for people I already know!
Jamila, 16 years old, chose the word إبداع which means “creativity”. She is a bit of a rebel and won’t listen to people who want to tell her how to live her as a teenager or as a woman. Creativity is what she is going for in life, creating a path of her own, whether people like it or not!
Oma Mohamad, (close to 80 years old) chose the word التعاون which means “cooperation”. She told me that she has experienced a lot of cooperation on a small scale in her refugee camp. Her family arrived from what is now Israel in 1948 to an empty piece of land. Since then, and thanks to families cooperating, the camp has evolved with concrete housing, new schools, paved roads and small businesses setting up. Although Balata Refugee Camp is a rough place because of its role at the forefront of Palestinian resistance, there’s almost no violence between the inhabitants themselves who’ve always stood together and cooperated. The trouble has always been with outside forces.
Oma Mohamad told me that she would like to see more cooperation on a larger scale in order to live in a peaceful world. The powerful people who rule our countries have a lot to learn from the humble people of Balata.
Yara chose the word فرحة, which means “happiness” in arabic. Yara and I met a year and a half ago as she lives on the same street as I here in the refugee camp. Yara and her family are always inviting me for food and making lemonade for me. And Yara definitely stands for happiness on this street! I could have guessed she was going to choose this word!
Last time I was here she chose the word “my mother” because her mother was ill and she wanted the wall to be a surprise for her. This year her mum’s a lot better and Yara smile is an even bigger one!
Fatima chose the word ” المرأة ” (the arabic word for “woman”) . She says that being a woman in Balata Refugee Camp isn’t the end of the world but it could be a lot better. There’s a lot the next generation should do to change things for the best!
Fatima is a teacher in this little school in the camp. This is the first mural I’ve painted since coming back to Palestine. I’ve been having great fun seeing friends I’d made here and who weren’t expecting I’d ever come back! Thank you to @beyondusnonprofit for giving me this opportunity!