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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Angels for Peace

Yesterday we celebrated the finissage of The Shadow of Angels by Kim Poor at St. Stephen Walbrook. Our musical programme for the evening featured Syrian concert pianist Riyad Nicolas and up-and-coming singer/songwriter Katya DJ. The concert was in support of those in crisis in Syria - see Christian Aid's Syria Crisis Appeal.

Edward Lucie Smith and I spoke before the concert. I said the following:

Kim Poor’s art consistently plays with veils of light and colour to evoke mystical atmospheres. Dali thought that to look at her paintings was as if to 'look through coloured gauze', which inspired him to coin the term 'Diaphanism' for her style. So there is much in these paintings that seems to depict a beautiful otherness – one of flowing curves and circling flourishes – yet there is also an engagement with the shattered, splintered experiences of tragedy. This comes most notably in Rosa de Hiroshima, an image of resilience drawn from reflection on Vinicius de Moraespoem of the same name. Here, the angel representing the Rose of Hiroshima stands with an indomitable spirit.

Themes of healing and guidance abound in these works, however, which implies a world in need of both. I have been particularly struck over the course of this exhibition by Stigmata, as, while, blood flows from one of the angel’s hands, the other holds stalks of grain. That makes this image a Eucharistic image, as, in the Eucharist, blood is re-presented as wine and grain re-presented as bread. The posture of the angel in Stigmata is the exact same posture as that of the angel in The Healer meaning that we can associate, in this image, the Eucharist with healing. We live in a wounded world where roses are torrid and radioactive, yet there is a source of healing which is found in the bread and wine of the Eucharist.

With that thought in mind it is perhaps appropriate that we are gathered around Henry Moore’s altar tonight, although we have not gathered to celebrate the Eucharist, and also that Stigmata has been positioned in this exhibition to overlook the altar.

To celebrate the Finissage of ‘The Shadow of Angels’ exhibition, we’re presenting a very special evening with perfomances by the celebrated Aleppo-born concert pianist Riyad Nicolas and up and coming singer/songwriter Katya DJ. The fact that Riyad comes from Syria has been the prompt to use this evening as an opportunity to express concern at the bloodshed in that country and to raise funds which may in some small way provide a measure of the healing about which this exhibition has led us to reflect.

Five years of conflict has had devastating effects on the people of Syria. The situation is shocking. Half the country is displaced and more than 4.6 million people are now refugees. More than 400,000 people have been killed.

Christian Aid is working with Syrians in Lebanon and Iraq, providing support to some of the most vulnerable refugees, including women who have experienced gender-based violence, and those with disabilities.

Six-year-old Hammoudi was born in Damascus with complex physical and mental disabilities. He was given two life-saving operations by the Syrian health service, but his third operation was cancelled when violence overtook the country.

More than one in five refugees suffer from some form of impairment, whether from birth, illness, accident, or a conflict-related injury. Syrian refugees with disabilities often can't get the care they need.

Now, with the help of donations to Christian Aid and the work of their partner, Lebanese Physically Handicapped Union (LPHU), Hammoudi has learned to walk for the first time.

Layan is a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon. Sadly, like many Syrian women, she's a victim of domestic violence. During times of conflict, women and girls are at greater risk of sexual and domestic violence. Layan now regularly visits Kafa, a Lebanese organisation that supports women who have experienced, or are at risk of violence.

She said: 'Kafa helped me to get out of the awful situation I was in. I feel that there are people who care and worry about me.' Kafa successfully helped to lobby the Lebanese government to pass a law criminalising domestic violence. The law also applies to Syrian refugees.

These are the kind of people and situations that your donations can help to address. We hope that you will enjoy angelic performances tonight from Riyad Nicholas and Katya DJ, but also hope that you can be angels of peace and angels of healing by giving generously to support refugees from Riyad’s mother country.



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Sonata K466 in F Minor
Domenico Scarlatti

Sonata K455 in G Major
Domenico Scarlatti

Sonata No 31 Opus 110 in A Flat Major
- Moderato Cantabile Molto Espressivo
- Allegro Molto
- Adagio Ma Non Troppo / Fuga; Allegro Ma Non Troppo
Ludwig von Beethoven

Polonaise Fantasie Opus 61 in A Flat
Frédéric Chopin

‘Scarbo’ from Gaspard de la Nuit
Maurice Ravel


Katya DJ - Far From Gone.

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