Laila Shawa (Palestine-UK), Children of war, children of peace, silkscreen on canvas in two parts

© 2006 Laila Shawa

In this two-part work Laila Shawa highlights the plight of Palestinian children. She takes as her subject a young boy from the Sheikh Radwan refugee camp in Gaza, who has been photographed carrying a stick. His image is repeated against differently coloured backgrounds.

In 1993 it seemed that the new potential for peace following the signing of the Oslo Agreement would change the situation of the Palestinian refugees, particularly the lives of children. However, as the artist explains:

'Unfortunately there has been no change in these children's lives and the trauma and dispossession has carried on. The only apparent difference in the streets of Gaza was the change in the colour of the graffiti which became brighter. However the misery, poverty and the trauma of violence remained.' (Artist's statement to the curator)

The brightness of the second image suggests this slight note of optimism but ultimately the lack of change. The graffiti seen in the background was sprayed on Gaza's streets by rival groups. It has merged and been rendered illegible, making it an evocative reminder of the context in which it was done.

Shawa studied at the Leonardo School of Art, Cairo, before graduating in fine arts from the Accademia de Belle Arti in Rome. Her work comprises oils on canvas, photographs and silkscreens as well as designs for stained-glass windows at the Cultural Centre in Gaza. She also created a series of works based around graffiti called Walls of Gaza.