Refujesus Watercolour

I was struck by an iconic picture of Jesus as a refugee, painted (I think) by David Hayward on his website for church dropouts. Maybe that started me thinking. That and having just visited the Retsona refugee camp in Greece. 

So I got a picture in my head of the camp built up around our church, St. Paul’s in Hammersmith. 

I started in pencil eyeballing it from a photo on my iPhone. The scale came out OK. 

I ended up doing the background (the church) in watercolour and the tents in ink and water. Symbolic monochrome? Because I use Parker Quink, it drags naturally into an attractive blur when wetted.  The clouds fly forwards and upwards in perspective with the buildings. Another small step forward. 

Quite pleased also to be using the texture of the paper at last (see clouds). Apart from anything else, the textured paper is £1/sheet, so one might as well take advantage! Finally some (really) simple shading achieved a strong sunny look. I’m happy with that too.  

And here it is roughly cropped as I’m using 10″x14″ paper, ready for an A4 mount to hide the edges. About 2 hours altogether. 

Likes and comments were going well for two hours until I was advised to remove it from social media to avoid upsetting people with the flag. I changed it from English to Syrian in imitation of the ‘Refujesus’ principle of ‘identification’. A sort of semaphore for ‘Je suis Syrian’. However. It is after all CoE. And above all, what if Syrians were offended? They might think (at worst) it is the flag of violent oppression, or (at best) that we are arrogant to think we have any idea what it’s like to be Syrian at this time. 

Shame. This might be my closest to the Brecht principle: “Art is not a mirror to reflect society but a hammer to beat it into shape”. 

Finally I posted a sanitised version obscuring the flag and accompanied by a discussion of artistic freedom and symbolism. What can go wrong?

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