Ποιειν Και Πραττειν - create and do

The next step - a few hints

Painting together a peace mural is a process. It takes time. A lot depends on the availability of the space where the canvas can stay for days so that the children and youth can return at a later date and continue where they have left off.

Often this is a question asked: how long will it take? The answer is simply this: every action finds its own time and space to bring about such a peace mural which is never complete, but can become a story to be told.

A lot depends on setting some constraints and approach to things: the last mural in Gezoncourt was painted with children suffering from epilepsi, a characteristic of them being that they leave no traces so that they cannot build their own identities out of remembering what they left behind.

Significantly the last mural painted in Tripoli, Lebanon has the title "to remember you need to forget". It underlines that Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth is about work with memory as perceived best by Bart Verschaffel when he compares this with memory studies.

So while children and youth prepare to paint the mural on Sunday, Sept. 28th in the local community of Zabbar, already thoughts go out to what Gerold Schumann shall initiate at the end of this year and in March / April 2015 when three murals shall be painted in commeration of First World War.

Europe seen out of the perspective of Malta will differ. It is no coincidence that Andrew and Inez, the two eighteen year olds in the group, have emphasized decided to point out the link between dictatorship and war with the masses of people being mere willing followers. When Italy ceded in 1943, the allies ordered the Italian fleet to sail to the Grand Harbour of Malta, so that they would be out of the way when it came to drive out the German troops in Italy.

War being such a tormented and sad story of humanity, it is important to note as well that in Malta the link to the Mediterranean countries is very strong, and therefore the impact of what is happening in Libya but also in the other countries of the Middle East felt directly.

Thus some hints or guidance was given to Gertrude Spiteri and Paul Dalli after the first experiences made with such a painting process in Zabbar, in order to prepare for the next step:

Starting point: common discussion
My advise is to bring together all the children and youth, and before starting to paint, let them share thoughts what has been going through their minds since the first action took place. Let them look at the canvas and discuss what they see.
Andrew and Inez have made further thoughts about Mussolini and masses willing to follow a dictator. It would be good to have the others understand what they mean by that.
Some reference to peace in our current world:
It has to do with the concept of peace based on an understanding of democracy as being not only free from violence, but also able to challenge a readiness to use violent means like the going to war by a non violent way of resolving conflicts. Opinions can vary but in view of ongoing developments in the world, there is a deeply worrying trend about young people allowing themselves to be recruited by ISIS. At the same time, more refugees are created by people having to flee for their lives. The role of the West in this conflict and war is at best highly controversial.
Lebanon is at the risk of being drawn into war. There can be looked at the mural painted in Tripoli which shows a strong longing for peace.
One important question can be posed to the children and youth: why do they call the mural "to remember you need to forget":
Lessons to be learned
One important point can be remarked as to how the group behaved the last time. In Tripoli the youth did include three children. There was not this stance by the older youth as the case in Zabbar, "no, with those younger ones I don't want to have anything to do!" Rather the youngers one were included when the Tripoli mural was painted because younger children like little Serena add a much greater poetic touch to any painting.
What message do all the children and youth wish to create through the murals they will paint in Zabbar. What message should come from Malta to others in the world? There was discussed the last time while in Malta things are OK, elsewhere in the world things are really bad. How to link these two different parts?
Peace should mean the ability of working together with all ages. Here Anna Formoso may join you. She is working on an intergenerational project and if she can come to Zabbar, then she can also account what she has learned about the Kids' Guernica- Guernica Youth project in Belfast and the peace process in Northern Ireland as she has just been there.
Critical reflection of the first drawing session
I noticed a conflict about use of space erupted although the space should be a common one. For instance, the last time Gaby did draw flowers near the face of the dictator and Inez was upset.
Paul, you went ahead to write into the empty fields of the one figure what colour is to be used. That is too much an interference by an adult.
Rather all adults should just support this 'collaborative learning' process shaped by the children and youth themselves by learning how to share space and colours with the others.
This means a joint understanding on how they work together is needed right from the outset.
Parents tend to be over protective and therefore do not reflect how much they interfer in the lives of others, including in the lives of their own children. This may be due to adults as parents develop too much fear of doing something wrong in the eyes of society. Rather they should stand up to children and youth and free them of the fear to make mistakes. Here Karsten can add this important dimension of what V18 stands for with regards to the youth: provide space so that they are free to make mistakes for only then can they learn. The painting offers such a chance. Any mistake can easily be painted over and there is not just one right way to paint.

After this some exchange with Valia took place since the clear reference as to what is happening in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq is fore most on the mind of all.

Athens 25.9.2014
Dear Valia,
as you can see onhand of my letter to those about to undertake the next step in Malta with regards to letting children and youth paint a new peace mural, the recent action in Lebanon is a strong reference point.
Not only does the mural created in Tripoli express a strong longing for peace, but also I like very much the fact on how you included the three younger children.
Let us await the outcome of the mural being painted. There is among the group a four year old girl with the name Serena who just sat down the last time and started to draw even before anyone else. Many of the youngsters hesitated, did not wish to join as if embarrassed. Maybe it was due to the presence of their parents. It is, however, also an expression of a different culture and atmosphere prevailing in Malta.
Important is that this first mural being painted in the local community of Zabbar will give them an insight on how to go about it. Once that first experience has been made, it will be easier the next time. Already there are plans to involve a number of schools, youth organisations and organisations dealing with the migrant issue. Malta is but half a hour away from Libya and thus it is the most southern point of Europe close to the other Mediterranean countries.
For this reason I think constantly of what people in Lebanon are going through and who have been brought closer to us thanks to the two murals Iman initiated and now this third one thanks to your tremendous efforts.
As some will notice in my remarks to those doing the coordination in Malta, and they are mainly parents, they have to learn to hold themselves back rather than interfer.
It will be a stepping stone towards 2018 when Valletta shall be European Capital of Culture, and a Kids' Guernica - Guernica Youth world exhibition will bring together the different messages from all over the world to ensure peace remains a viable option instead of going to war. Only when the imagination no longer exists, then everything seems to be dark.

Dear Hatto,

Our new KGGY project in Tripoli was a fantastic experience for me and for all those who participated. The 3 children showed great enthusiasm and love for painting. Those children were very courageous; they stepped in, took the brushes and asked "where do we start?" I believe that children seem more courageous than youth especially that they tend to think more freely (they think loud without caring about what others will say in return, without even thinking if what they said is right or wrong). Children have a very soft brain–an innocent one, that allow them to act on the spur of the moment. On the other hand, youth are more careful, they think of what they want to say and how they should act. This difference makes children more courageous and if I may say, more honest and powerful, that youth. Their powers lies in their imagination and their innocent brain that thinks freely and without limits. When we grow up we become more mature and start losing our sense of imagination because we always think of what "should" be made, what "should" be said and what "should" be though of. For this, year after year when we should become wiser, our courage to act and think freely diminishes.

Pablo Picasso mentioned this difference between children and older persons in many of his quotes. He said: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up." Another quote is: "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."

Children have a very distinct character. However, the degree of the freedom of thoughts, of courage, of enthusiasm.. changes depending on the culture, the entourage, the character, the family and the society in which children and youth live. To know about the main reason for this "shyness" or "courage" in the children you spoke about, we should look into the case of each of those children. When it comes to expressing oneself's thoughts and ideas, many elements interfere to help or hinder children, youth and even adults. 

As for the new mural that is being painted, I am so excited to see how it will look like. Keep me updated, always !

Best of luck.



Comment: "great words for a sound vision" - Karsten Xuereb


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