- Posted February 9, 2013 by
Victoria, British Columbia
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The war through your eyes: Iraq 10 years on
Sculpture for Peace by Canadian Artist lost to war
In late 2002, I was in Iraq working on a twenty four foot tall bronze sculpture. The Iraqi government at that time had decided to donate the sculpture for peace to the Canadian people. I spent several months working with Iraqi artists to create my design. I knew that the country was about to be invaded at any time, but I wanted to stay long enough to complete the details of the work so that the foundry in Baghdad could then create the molds for the final casting. It was a stressful time for my family back in Canada. When I was told that my young son had been told by his classmates that his dad was going to die in Iraq, I was able to place a call through to his classroom and talk to him and assure him that I was safe.
I worked in the Baghdad foundry for several months. The sculpture consisted of three abstract rock like shapes. The tallest structure was twenty three feet tall. The surface was deeply scratched and marked. I also took the hand prints of Iraqi children who were dying of cancer and I worked those imprints into the surface of each structure. (The cancer rates in Iraq soared after the first gulf war and many of the doctors suspected depleted uranium which was widely used during the first gulf war and again in the second gulf war, with the same spike in cancer rates recorded.)
I enjoyed my time with the Iraqi people. They were friendly and went out of their way to help me complete my project.
The sculpture was going to be transported by ship back to Canada after the Iraqi people completed the molds and the casting of the bronze. The idea was to then transport the sculpture to my peace sanctuary near Hudson's Hope, BC in the north east of British Columbia. (My peace sanctuary is a thousand foot diameter earthen work featuring large circles and simple, primitive faces carved into the ground by moving thousands of tons of gravel with a bulldozer. The National film board of Canada featured the creation of mypeace sanctuary project in the documentary, "From Baghdad to Peace Country". www.nfb.ca/film/From_Baghdad_to_Peace_Country/
I was forced to cancel my return journey to Canada several times until finally I was able to leave Baghdad knowing that the sculpture was far enough along to be completed without me.
Shortly after I got home Iraq was attacked and everything collapsed for the people in Iraq once again.
Some of my friends in Iraq did not survive the war.
Many had to leave Iraq because of the threat of kidnapping and the burden of ransom demands. Most Iraqi people simply had to try and ride out the war the best they could. I was speaking to a friend on Skype one day and a missile hit her house while we talked. Her house was badly damaged but they were ok. I was told that at times they had to live like animals. I don't know how they survived. Only their faith in Allah gets them through this nightmare which still lingers on even after ten years.
My sculpture did not survive the politics of war. The new government has it's hands full simply trying to get electricity and basic things for the Iraqi people. After all this time things are still extremely hard for the people of Iraq and they live in fear every day after having their lives ripped apart from the invasion. Explosions and killings happen every day and they still try to pick up the pieces. It will take generations before the deep scars of war fade from their lives.
I believe that dropping bombs on people is not the way to find peace. I believe that the rule of international law is key to everything. It must be followed by everyone. No exceptions.
I have created a Peace Sanctuary Sculpture Park Society and sculptures will gradually be installed at the peace sanctuary site in the north east of BC. The first sculpture will be installed this spring followed by the donation of a bronze sculpture by the American sculptor, David Kocka and American, Jason Crowe of the Cello Cries on Society.
More information on the peace sanctuary sculpture park http://peacesanctuarysculpturepark.org/