"This time, all my artists colleagues and I aren’t painting from our private studios but from the heart of the old city in Gaza." Abdullah Al Rozi is a Gazan artist who, along with thirteen young Palestinian artists, volunteered to paint sixteen paintings of al- Saqqa Historical Palace in Gaza from different perspectives to show the magnificence of the architectural heritage and the cultural value through a unique style. The initiative was organized by the UNESCO Office in Ramallah on 8 December, 2015.
"The art workshop in an architectural heritage site helps artists to develop their artistic ideas in heritage preservation, and provides an inspiration space which unleashes our ideas and creations. My painting is a reflection of a mix of contemporary art and heritage.
"The activity at the palace, which was recently rehabilitated by UNESCO, took place within the framework of the #Unite4Heritage campaign in partnership with IWAN Center for Architectural Heritage in Gaza. It aimed to raise awareness among youth about the importance and the value of heritage, and its preservation, conservation and promotion. This initiative also aimed at developing young artists’ appreciation and respect for heritage and cultural diversity, encouraging them to find out about the aesthetic components of cultural heritage in Gaza, increasing their interest in architectural heritage and use their artistic talents to counter the propaganda of hatred with messages of unity, tolerance and solidarity.
"Heritage is the core of civilizations. I haven't taken a photo of this magnificent palace, I have just painted a visual artwork via my paintbrush and colors. It reflects the nobility and authenticity of the palace," says Mohammed Al- Haj, Gazan Artist.
The young artists expressed their pride at being part of such an activity and stressed the importance of enriching cultural vitality and preserving heritage and history through art.
"I love heritage architecture because I love the archaeological places in my city. The arches, domes and decorations," says Mayssa Yousef, another Gazan artist. "I painted the Iwan in my own painting style. The Iwan is a rectangular hall or space, usually vaulted, walled on three sides, with one end entirely open and the Iwans are most commonly associated with Islamic architecture".
Abdallah, Mohammed, Mayssa and all participants were briefed on the #Unite4Heritage campaign and emphasized the crucial role of youth to advocate for the value of their heritage using the power of the social media to foster it. They were also provided with valuable information on the history and architecture of the site.
The titles of the paintings they produced include Remnants of Memory, Our House, The Window, The Old House and the Iwan. Sixteen of the paintings were exhibited in a Lime Mortars and Stone Conservation Workshop that was organized by the UNESCO Office in Ramallah, Culture Unit on 10 December 2015, in partnership with Iwan and Riwaq heritage centers.
UNESCO’s #Unite4Heritage campaign was launched in March 2015 with the aim to mobilize global support, especially amongst young people, for the protection of cultural heritage, and in response to the unprecedented attacks on the region’s cultural diversity and heritage.
To learn more about the campaign worldwide, visit: www.unite4heritage.org For further information on UNESCO’s activities in Palestine visit: www.unesco.org/ramallah or contact Majd Beltaji, Public Information Officer of the UNESCO Office in Ramallah at firstname.lastname@example.org