During our on going clear out pending next weeks house move, I came across a picture that Michaela bought for me a few years ago. We had agreed to only buy presents from charity shops and she had found a watercolour print- a series of quick wet into wet sketches, entitled ‘the people of Aleppo’.
Of course, since then the picture has a whole new level of significance.
A couple of friends sit chatting on a park bench whilst someone takes home the shopping. An old man reads the newspaper while his friend pauses to chew the fat. Women walk home arm in arm and everyone lives outside in the sunshine. Life is ordinary, and all the more beautiful for that.
What happened to these folk?
Did they all survive, or are some still buried in the rubble of their former houses? Outlasted by this portrait done in happier times?
Have some fled and become refugees, scattered across a European landscape increasingly hostile to their presence?
Are some still there? Sheltering in cellars. Starved. Fearful. Awaiting the retribution of the approaching government troops.
Have some become heroes, rescuing others as part of the White Helmet organisation?
We will never know, but spare some thoughts friends for the people of Aleppo, who find themselves at the centre of a power play that they can never win. May they survive, somehow, to a time when they can once more sit in the street with no fear of bullet or barrel bomb.
I searched for the artist, Lucy Willis, and discovered that she is selling prints of this painting and others via Oxfam in aid of the people of Syria. Check this out here, as these might make fantastic Christmas presents.