By Peter Wooding, European Bureau Chief for the ASSIST News Service
LONDON, UK (ANS – August 5, 2015) — At the official opening of THE BRIDGE interfaith East-West art exhibition in London, England the Archbishop of Canterbury said he believed art can “imitate reconciliation as it is a common language around the world.”
Speaking to a VIP audience the Rt. Rev and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby added: “Some reject anyone they do not like and demonize anyone they cannot understand. People have never felt closer to each other in terms of what they say to each other and they have never felt so unable to deal with that closeness. Art subverts the lack of understanding. It affects the conscious mind where barriers exist and allows for space for interpretation.”
According to a press release, the aim of THE BRIDGE exhibition at St Martin in the Fields on Trafalgar Square, which is currently the third stop of a world tour, is to examine the commonalities between different faiths and to bring communities together while respecting the diversity of traditions.
The release went on to explain that the exhibition which features premier Arab, Persian and Jewish artists of Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith backgrounds, opened at the beginning of June and ran in London through August 2.
In addition to visual art, CARAVAN’s initiatives also involve the full-range of creative artistic expression, including the fields of music, literature, and film. CARAVAN was privileged to have Sami Yusuf, the celebrated Middle Eastern singer/songwriter perform as part of THE BRIDGE program in London.
THE MALTESE PEACE DONKEY
CARAVAN’s “Maltese Peace Donkey” project is a peacebuilding artistic initiative around the Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale later this year that uses the symbol of the celebrated and rare Maltese donkey to communicate the critical importance of building harmony between the Middle East and West.
The “Maltese Peace Donkey” project will entail noted Mediterranean artists coming together to paint/decorate 21 life-size fiberglass “Maltese” donkeys to represent the unique East-West nature of the Mediterranean: one for each of the 21 Mediterranean countries.
The endangered Maltese donkey is an historic and contemporary “East-West” symbol. Four of these Maltese donkeys were sent in 1786 to George Washington, the first President of the United States of America, as a gift from the Mediterranean to the West.
The Mediterranean region, unlike any other in the world, represents an intercultural bridge between the East and West. And within the Mediterranean, the country of Malta is an icon of this East-West interaction, both religiously and culturally.
In Malta, this is nowhere more clearly represented than in the ancient city of Mdina, which owes its present primary architecture to the Arab period (870-1091 AD). Today the city displays an unusual mix of Arab, Norman and Baroque architecture. In the heart of the city stands the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral, the host of the Mdina Contemporary Art Biennale later this year.
The press release went on to say that a new life-size donkey form, based on the Maltese donkey, was sculpted by premier Egyptian CARAVAN artist Dr. Reda Abdel Rahman (who also created the mold for the Egyptian fiberglass donkey used in CARAVAN’s 2013 exhibition). This new mold has been shipped to Malta and the production of the 21 fiberglass donkeys has begun.
Once painted/decorated, these donkeys would be displayed throughout the ancient city of Mdina for the two-month Biennale that opens November 13. Following the Biennale, one donkey will be given to each Mediterranean country to be exhibited as a symbol of the need to build bridges between the East and West in today’s global context.
Additionally, seven of the former 2013 Egyptian “Peace & Compassion” painted life-size fiberglass donkeys (which were showcased at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London) will be exhibited together with the new 21 “Maltese Peace Donkeys.”
For a detailed overview the project, see http://media.wix.com/ugd/3d5d0c_0405cec37e904286be5705ac01f8f6c9.pdf
Other guest speakers at the official London opening included: His Excellency Nasser Kamel, Ambassador of Egypt to the UK, Archbishop Mouneer H. Anis, Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East for the Anglican Church, Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, Vicar of St. Martin in the Fields, Mr. Ahmed Badrawi, Managing Director of SODIC (the sponsor of THE BRIDGE) and Ms. Carelle Homsy, a participating artist.
Other special guests included, among numerous others, Sheik Mohey El Din Afifi from Al Azhar in Cairo, Egypt and Fr. Shenouda, representing the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt and various participating artists.
The next stop on THE BRIDGE world tour is Metz, France, which will open in Metz on August 27 and will be held at both Metz Cathédrale (Sainte Etienne) and Archives Municipales (Cloître des Récollets). It will run in Metz through October.
CARAVAN’s exhibition in Paris, France, LE PONT (The Bridge) this last February 2015, received from Jordan the King Abdullah II World Interfaith Harmony Week “Honorable Mention” AWARD Recognition.
Photo captions: 1) Two of the pictures in the exhibition. 2) His Excellency Nasser Kamel, Ambassador of Egypt to the UK speaking at the opening. 3) Project logo and first Maltese Peace Donkeys being fabricated (unpainted) 4) Peter Wooding filming in London.
About the writer: Peter Wooding, the younger son of Dan and Norma Wooding, is an award-winning TV, radio and print journalist and media consultant under the name of Peter Wooding Productions (www.peterwoodingproductions.com). Having previously spent 10 years as news editor with UCB Radio in the UK, he has travelled extensively reporting from countries including Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, South Sudan, the Philippines, Uganda, South Korea, Zambia, Gambia, Mozambique, Croatia, Israel and India. The son of Dan and Norma Wooding, he now reports regularly for ASSIST News Service, Samaritan’s Purse, Leading The Way and Christian Concern. Peter and wife Sharon live in North Wales, UK with their three daughters, Sarah, Anna and Abigail. Contact Peter for consultation at: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel. +44 7500 903067.
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