It was during the war in Iraq that artist Helen Broadfoot first got angry. When she heard stories of the horrors of war she became even madder and wrote to the social activist Noam Chomsky to ask just what she could do. Chomsky encouraged her to find her answer through her art.
"How mad did I get?" she says. "I devoted over a year of my life painting the children of war." Last April, the Pender Harbour artist opened an extraordinary show of 10 paintings at the Harbour Gallery. Entitled A Show of Respect, it was a tribute to children who suffer in war. It appeared for only 10 days. None of the paintings were for sale; rather they were designed to make a statement. After the April show, they were exhibited at a church in Richmond, and will now return to the Coast to go on view at the Seaside Centre in Sechelt from July 8 to 11. After intense research, Broadfoot realized that death was not the only hazard of war for a child. Children lose their whole families and villages; they suffer grief and fear of the unknown. Children are abducted and sold into prostitution or forced to spend their childhoods in refugee camps. Children who suffer the death of a loved one develop a hate of their own and this perpetuates war into the next generation. Broadfoot set out to address these subjects. She was determined that the composition of each painting would be subtle and moving - a story told through the eyes of a child that would draw the viewer in without repelling them. Each painting is linked to one of the articles that form the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The artist has recently received word that Doctors Without Borders (MSF) would be pleased to sanction the show as a fundraiser. She will hold a wine and cheese reception on Sunday, July 10, from 1 to 4 p.m. to raise funds for the organization. Half the profits from the sale of cards and prints will be donated to MSF. Doctors Without Borders is working on bringing the show to Vancouver. Broadfoot gives credit for the organization of the Sechelt show to local artists Jane Ford and Louise Lenko who work to produce high quality shows for their communities. If you can't attend the show to see the paintings first hand, you can go to Broadfoot's website to see the images: www.oilpaintingforpeace.com.