Bangalore: The world belongs to children of today, but there is little done to save this world for them. Instead, children are nailed to produce essential commodities such as food items, textiles and electronics, with everyone's support, assuming that wealth is being created.
But what part of this wealth do the children get back? Every year, India is spending only Rs 3.69 per head on education, but a whopping Rs 1,000 per head on defence. Education is given least priority, leaving children of the nation neglected. In this backdrop comes the idea of 'Art Against War', conceptualised by artist John Devaraj. He symbolises the 130 million child labourers in India, through his artwork '100 Million Crucifixions'.
Painted on 24 ft X 7ft canvass, the art work has four parts. The first part, 'black and white', depicts the innocent children, born into 'adulterated adult world,' confused, with many questions on hatred, jealousy and war. The second part, 'origins of life', is about the children being enslaved into work. The next part '100 million crucifixions' is a continuation, on how the innocence of a child is killed.
Fourth part of the artwork is a strong statement against nuclear arsenals. When Japan's Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed in 1945, the destruction caused was irreparable. The world then vowed that a third atom bomb shall not fall. It also portrays the innocent children who are growing up, with no awareness on the inherent dangers of war. The artwork, along with posters of information on Hiroshima-Nagasaki atom bomb tragedies, is on display at Venkatappa Art Gallery, Kasturba Road, Bangalore, till February 5. The exhibition is organised by John Devaraj’s Born Free Art School, which is working to uplift street children.
Around 3,000 students from various schools have already visited the exhibition. There is also a scope for visiting children to express their artistic anti-war expressions, such as poetry or drawings. "I don't want this to be just my mission, I want everyone, especially children, to be a part of 'Art Against War' Campaign," says the artist, John Devaraj. The campaign will be launched in Japan on February 8th. He wants to take the exhibition to all interested schools, and involve as many children as possible.
John Devaraj feels that more such campaigns should be taken up, and with the children's involvement, the world should be 'childrenised' to create a 'childom'.
Sadako Sasaki, two-year-old when the atomic bomb struck Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, survived the tragedy, or so it seemed. After 10 years, when she was studying in sixth grade, she was diagnosed with leukaemia, or blood cancer, a direct effect of exposure to radiation. She believed that folding 1000 origami (paper) cranes would cure her. She attempted to fold paper cranes while in hospital bed. After 10 months in hospital, before she could complete 1000 cranes, death ended her efforts.
Shocked classmates of Sasaki started collecting money to build a monument for her, and innocent children like her. The campaign spread across the globe, with children sending paper cranes to Japan. In 1958, Children's Peace Monument was erected at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, along with a statue of a girl holding a golden crane high over her head. Beneath the statue, carved are the words 'This is our cry. This is our prayer. For Peace in this world'. Sasaki, who stands as a symbol of innocent victims of war, has found a place in the artwork '100 Million Crucifixions'.