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What his eyes have seen: George Gittoes AM

In the lead-up to the Launceston Community Festival for Peace (10-12 July 2015), QVMAG is working to bring George Gittoes AM and Hellen Rose to Launceston. We congratulate Gittoes who was awarded the prestigious Sydney Peace Prize for 2015, which places him in the company of Professor Noam Chomsky, Archbishop Desmond Tutu,  Julian Burnside AO QC and Arundathi Roy among others.

Our world has entered a time where no one really knows who is leading us into war, why we are going there and if anyone has any vision of why are doing it. By creating in a war zone an artist can show ways to heal and mend. Violence only leads to more violence. 

George Gittoes AM

Credit line: George Gittoes, 2011.  Photo: Zony Maya

Credit line: George Gittoes, 2011. Photo: Zony Maya

Currently commuting between Australia and Afghanistan, Artist, performer, filmmaker, photographer, activist and peace maker – George Gittoes AM and his partner, Performance Artist and Musician, Hellen Rose have co-founded The Yellow House Jalalabad in Afghanistan.

His artist’s eyes have seen what few amongst us have or could ever begin to imagine. Together, with the people of Jalalabad, a space is being built (physical and virtual) in that devastated community where creativity reigns. Through deploying multimedia, education, music, film, performance, art making and positive subversion – a fragile but ever-strengthening thread of humanity, and positive social change is being woven where little, if any was left.

Those eyes allow us to see the five-year-old girl meeting his eyes with hers as she leads her younger brother along the dirt ridden street. In one hand she carries a hessian sack of aluminium cans bigger than she is, whilst with the other holds the boy’s little hand, scuffing dirt unseen by the preoccupied passers-by, invisible, tiny, determined and wary. Those eyes allow us to see the teenage ice-cream boy searching for his addict father or witness the destruction of ancient Assyrian cultural treasures unhindered by the allied forces.

From the streets of Kings Cross in the 1970s to zones of conflict around the world – Nicaragua, Philippines, Kuwait, Somalia, Cambodia, Western Sahara, Algeria, Sinai, Israel, Southern Lebanon, Rwanda, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Bouganville, Afghanistan, Pakistan, East Timor, Congo, Rwanda, Palestine/Gaza, Iraq – Gittoes has, through his work, stood witness to the unspeakable devastation of war and worked to build a hard-fought peace. Those eyes allow us to see, feel, think, act.

Gittoes and Rose live their mission and show the way towards peace. Their work is compelling and unable to be ignored.

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