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Detail, Four Avega Women, Helen Wilson

Detail, Four Avega Women, by Helen Wilson

Description:

Detail from Four Avega Women , a painting by Helen Wilson.

To me, this is one of the most powerful paintings in the series. I wanted to paint more of the women I met, all of whom had AIDS and eight years on were still dying. I decided to paint just four of the women, much larger than life. These women live with the memories of watching their loved ones, children and grandchildren being raped and killed in the genocide, and the sense of loss makes it hard for them to go on living. The woman on the right is 92 years old and lost eleven children and grandchildren. Only one of the women is looking directly at us from the painting, as if judging the world for standing by and doing nothing to avert the tragedy. The AVEGA women wanted me to paint their stories as large as I could so the world would not forget.
Words of the artist.

AVEGA is the association of widows of the genocide, which works to improve the lives of women who have lost their husbands.

Helen Wilson is an artist who lives and works in Bristol.
In 2002, she visited Rwanda, where she met surviviors of the genocide in 1994.
Genocide means the planned or ordered killing of a racial or cultural group.

As a result of this visit, Helen returned,
…with a clear mission: to express through my artwork as much about Rwanda as it is today. I would paint the Rwanda I had seen, the beauty and the tragedy, and the dignity and grace of its people in the aftermath of the genocide.

These paintings formed a temporary display at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in 2003, called Making Sense – a Rwandan Story.

Copyright: Copyright Helen Wilson

Woman and Child, by Helen Wilson

Woman and Child, by Helen Wilson

Description:

Woman and Child , a painting by Helen Wilson.

This painting is based on a woman I met in the AVEGA village of Kimironko. There were twenty women in the room. This womans eyes caught my attention. Her expression did not change and her eyes told a very tragic story. She told me that she had been raped and lost seven children. The woman had AIDS and was waiting to die. She said that she was looking forward to dying and joining her family. She believed that she would be re-united with her children. The child in the painting is not her son (I did not have a picture of him). The image is inspired by a photograph in Gilles Peress book The Silence of a dead child covered with lime lying on a rubbish dump. Although the woman is not looking at the child, there is a connection betwen the two.

AVEGA is the association of widows of the genocide, which works to improve the lives of women who have lost their husbands.

Helen Wilson is an artist who lives and works in Bristol.
In 2002, she visited Rwanda, where she met surviviors of the genocide in 1994.
Genocide means the planned or ordered killing of a racial or cultural group.

As a result of this visit, Helen returned,
…with a clear mission: to express through my artwork as much about Rwanda as it is today. I would paint the Rwanda I had seen, the beauty and the tragedy, and the dignity and grace of its people in the aftermath of the genocide.

These paintings formed a temporary display at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in 2003, called Making Sense – a Rwandan Story.

Creator: Helen Wilson

Date: 2003

Copyright: Copyright Helen Wilson

Genocidaires, by Helen Wilson

Oil painting depicting genocide in Rwanda

Description:

Genocidaires , a painting by Helen Wilson.

This painting is based on a still from the feature film 100 Days, directed by Nick Hughes. I saw the still in the East African newspaper I bought when I arrived in Rwanda. The image I have painted sums up the horror I felt when coming back from the genocide sites. The particular act of killing shown in the picture took place in Nyamata Church, where 20,000 people died. The brush strokes and colours suggest extreme violence, and I wanted to capture the sheer hell and inhumanity of what went on. I did not witness the genocide, I witnessed its aftermath. However, visiting the church gave me a sense of the wanton destruction of human life. The painting has three elements. Firstly, the madness of the violence which we see in the frenzied killing on the left of the picture. We cannot see clearly what is depicted, but we see the machete raised and know that people are being murdered. Secondly, the two figures on the right hand side represent people who watched their families being slaughtered, some of whom had to participate in the killing. The third element is the spectre-like figure in the background, which represents the world watching and knowing what is going on, but choosing to do nothing.

Words of the artist.

Helen Wilson is an artist who lives and works in Bristol.
In 2002, she visited Rwanda, where she met surviviors of the genocide in 1994.
Genocide means the planned or ordered killing of a racial or cultural group.

As a result of this visit, Helen returned,
…with a clear mission: to express through my artwork as much about Rwanda as it is today. I would paint the Rwanda I had seen, the beauty and the tragedy, and the dignity and grace of its people in the aftermath of the genocide.

These paintings formed a temporary display at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in 2003, called Making Sense – a Rwandan Story.

Creator: Helen Wilson

Date: 2002-3

Copyright: Copyright Helen Wilson

The Boy With Wings, by Helen Wilson

The Boy With Wings, by Helen Wilson

Description:

The Boy With Wings, a painting by Helen Wilson.

This painting is of a boy called Christian, who became a friend of mine in Rwanda. I met his adopted mother and brothers in Kigali. He represents the teenagers of Rwanda, who embody hope for the country�s future. When I photographed Christian in front of a banana tree, the broad leaves looked like angel�s wings attached to his body. In the background I have painted Lake Kivu, which is beautiful and seemed as wide as an ocean. This painting represents the spirit of Rwanda, and its living beauty.

Helen Wilson is an artist who lives and works in Bristol.
In 2002, she visited Rwanda, where she met surviviors of the genocide in 1994.
Genocide means the planned or ordered killing of a racial or cultural group.

As a result of this visit, Helen returned,
…with a clear mission: to express through my artwork as much about Rwanda as it is today. I would paint the Rwanda I had seen, the beauty and the tragedy, and the dignity and grace of its people in the aftermath of the genocide.

These paintings formed a temporary display at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in 2003, called Making Sense – a Rwandan Story.

Date: 2002 - 2003

Copyright: Copyright Helen Wilson

Helen Wilson, painting.

Helen Wilson, painting.

Description:

Helen Wilson, painting.

Helen Wilson is an artist who lives and works in Bristol.
In 2002, she visited Rwanda, where she met surviviors of the genocide in 1994.
Genocide means the planned or ordered killing of a racial or cultural group.

As a result of this visit, Helen returned,
…with a clear mission: to express through my artwork as much about Rwanda as it is today. I would paint the Rwanda I had seen, the beauty and the tragedy, and the dignity and grace of its people in the aftermath of the genocide.

These paintings formed a temporary display at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in 2003, called Making Sense – a Rwandan Story.

Date: 2002 - 2003

Copyright: Copyright David Drake

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