Work by a Palestinian artist is to go on display in London after her paintings were smuggled out of Gaza by Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow.
Snow has made a series of visits to Gaza to report on life in the region blockaded by Israel. Last year talked about how it had affected him and implored viewers to act: “Together we can make a difference.”
He interviewed artist Majdal Nateel earlier this month and volunteered to take 399 of her paintings out of Gaza in his suitcase. They will form part of a London show in P21 Gallery called Gaza on Gaza, featuring work by Palestinians based in the region responding to last year’s conflict.
We were looking someone to carry it out and were worried that if we used a courier the Israelis would stop it,” said screenwriter Line Langebek, one of the show’s organisers. “Jon, who was out there, spontaneously offered to carry it. It’s fantastic to see them up on the wall in London now.”
Ms Langebek added: “Maybe it was a bit risky, as he was high profile, but luckily they did not look in his bag.
“He has been there before and did an impassioned piece last year during the bombardment, maybe that’s why he did it.”
Snow was not available for comment.
Nateel, who has not able to get a permit to leave Gaza and attend the show in the Kings Cross gallery, has produced a series of works painted on pieces of cement bags.
Each bag had contained cement used to repair homes in which a child had died in last year’s bombardment. The paintings, done in the style of a child, depicted the “lost dreams of the children who died in the 2014 Gaza war”.
Nateel, 29, is a member of a thriving art community in Gaza. She volunteered with Unicef during last summer’s war in Gaza, working with children in bomb shelters.
She said: “I want to have my art shown, not just for me, but for other people here in Gaza. Some people offer to exhibit my paintings out of sympathy. I want to be known as a good enough to be shown outside because I am good enough. The art movement is dramatic here. There are around 40 artists like me.”
Now, she often works by candlelight, as power cuts mean Gaza’s electricity is often limited to eight hours a day. “My work comes from personal experience,” she told The Independent. “For us that is the war. My project tries to say where these children would be now if they had not been killed.”
Her work was unveiled in Gaza earlier this month, the same evening that the campaigners were part of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Palestine in the House of Commons, which put one of her pieces on display.
The Gaza Strip blockade means Nateel, like many others, finds it difficult to get art supplies. “We have to depend on people who are travelling into Gaza for help,” she said.
The exhibition, which opens on 7 August, will feature creations by Palestinian teenagers drawn as part of a therapeutic project, as well as images by Mahmoud Alkord, Nidaa Badwan and Ahmed Salama. It will also include films by Dina Nasar, Yousef Nateel and Mohamed Jabaly.
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