Art brings Aleppo’s message to the world
It is estimated that 70 per cent of Aleppo’s residents have fled.
While many can’t leave because it is too expensive or they don’t have a passport, others have made the conscious decision to stay amid the rubble and barrel bombs.
Many refuse to leave their home; others are volunteers or aid workers.
And then you have those who have remained for art, believing that it could play an important role in documenting the crisis and healing the soul.
“I just want to transfer the right message in the world,” painter Abu Nadim said standing next to one of his artworks on the street in Aleppo.
The artwork he was pointing to shows a boy and girl holding hands, with bricks next to them to rebuild the country, regardless of religion.
“Nobody wanted this,” he added, pointing to a demolished building.
Nadim became famous in the opposition-held area of Aleppo for working tirelessly on posters for protests against the government since the revolution began more than three years ago.
As he drove around the streets of Aleppo, he often stopped to explain the meaning behind his artwork.
One is of a helicopter hovering about the city, dropping barrel bombs: the daily reality for those still living in Aleppo.
Also riddled throughout the streets are images of re-elected President, Bashar al-Assad and his father, with a cross through it, signalling the widespread view that the election was a farce.
One of his more provocative artworks is an image of Syria being torn apart by the hands of different countries, including Iran, Russia, Israel, US, China and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia group.
But painting is not the only form of art hitting the streets of Aleppo.
In a small warehouse, a group of men sat around smoking, sipping steaming Turkish coffee and discussing the day’s filming requirements.
“We’ve been doing this for about four months, when the barrel-bombing campaign began,” Abu Mohammed, director of ‘The channel of tomorrow will be better’, said.
“In another two months’ time, we will have a total of 13 episodes.”
Mohammed, who was working in advertising before the war began, decided to produce a TV series with a group of friends to provide some comic relief for those left in Aleppo.
Each episode is four minutes long and the men, including his son, make regular appearances on the show while other staff film, edit and script-write.
But before the men headed out with their camera gear, they put on an episode as they crowded around the computer screen.
A man sits peacefully as he reads the newspaper on a street in the city. As he flicks through the pages of the government newspaper, he reads that the situation in Syria is very good.
As he continues to read, rockets begin falling down behind him. He continues reading.
But before the clip gets to the end, the earth rubbles and the windows shake.
The sound of a blast reverberates throughout the room. Another barrel bomb dropped on a neighbourhood nearby.
While the sketches may be able to whisk Syrians away from reality for a few minutes, the barrel bomb is a stark reminder that this war is very real.