Art for Peace Festival


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Maryam Violet

10 November 2014


Art for Peace Festival

To coincide with the International Day of Peace (21 September), talented UK and international artists painted blank canvases, walls and windows around East London – using peace as their inspiration. They believe Art can be a powerful tool for inspiring change, as it can allow people to express themselves, change perceptions and create empathy – especially where words fail. The Art for Peace Festival’s goal was to increase visibility, support and awareness of global violence from the local community. A selection of the pieces featured in the four week long campaign have been auctioned at Hoxton Gallery, raising money for peacebuilding charity International Alert. International Alert (founded 1986) is a international London-based charity that works to raise awareness about international conflict and eradicate global violence. As Secretary General Dan Smith told Zanan TV, “For International Alert, the problem isn’t conflict. The problem is violence.” Their work in Central Asia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, the Philippines, Uganda, etc. has made them one of the world’s leading peacebuilding organizations.

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Various artists were asked to participate in the festival by either donating art to the event, creating street artwork or painting at the festival itself. These artists expressed how they felt about peace through their artwork. International Alert purposefully wanted diverse pieces on display throughout the campaign in hopes of reaching out to a wide variety of observers. The festival began with a week long “peace booth” where the public was invited to observe some of the artwork and speak with the artists about their outlook on violence and peace. The festival concluded with an auction where several pieces were sold in hopes of raising money for International Alert’s efforts to cease worldwide hostility. More than 30 talented artists took part in the campaign, including: Yoko Ono, Ibrahim Fakhri, 616, Hannah Adamaszek, Victor Ash, Pure Evil, Magnus Gjoen, Kef, Dan Kitchener, Jim McElvaney, Adrián Morales Rodríguez, Benjamin Murphy, Tarek Tuma and Andrea Tyrimos.

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After failed global efforts to improve conditions from politicians, media, the United Nations, government, etc. the Art for Peace Festival aims to pass a powerful message to the only people left who can make a change: the public. “I believe that what we’re doing is the best way to communicate with the normal men on the streets.” says Syrian artist and activist Ibrahim Fakhri. The event emphasizes the importance of starting a conversation about peace with everyday people so that there is increased awareness about the violence occurring across the globe. A picture can truly speak a thousand words and that is the mindset behind the operation. “As opposed to always looking at the problem, we need to try and think more about a solution.” said artist Andrea Tyrimos.