‘I’m 22, I misplaced 22’: Gaza bombing survivor paints to grieve loss | Gaza Information


Gaza Metropolis – “I’m 22, I misplaced 22 individuals”. Zainab al-Qolaq’s phrases opened her first artwork exhibition in Gaza, with 9 work that depict her tragic story.

Al-Qolaq misplaced 22 members of her household, together with her mom, her solely sister and two of her brothers, throughout the Israeli army offensive on Gaza final Could.

On Could 16, 2021, an Israeli airstrike hit al-Qolaq’s dwelling, turning it into rubble and leaving her clinging to life below particles for 12 hours earlier than she was pulled out.

Prior to now 12 months, al-Qolaq has devoted herself to processing her grief by way of her artwork, and held a two-day exhibition on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Within the work, al-Qolaq illustrated the occasions of the day her home was bombed, in addition to the interior conflicts and struggles that she has skilled since.

“Every portray embodies a tragic second that I lived due to the Israeli occupation,” al-Qolaq instructed Al Jazeera on the exhibition.

Al-Qolaq defined that the character of her drawings was embodying the “loss of life and warfare”, as she needs anybody who sees them to learn her emotions and perceive the painful moments she went by way of.

Al-Qolaq misplaced a number of members of her instant household and 22 members of her prolonged household [Abed Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

One explicit portray, a drawing of her household primarily based on a photograph taken throughout her brother’s college commencement, is near her coronary heart.

Within the portray, a few of al-Qolaq’s members of the family are depicted as garments with out a physique.

“The portray signifies that what remained is simply their empty garments, however the our bodies went away. The colors of this portray had been combined with tears,” al-Qolaq mentioned.

One other portray, she mentioned, depicted her situation right this moment as a corpse.

“I wished to say right here that eradicating me from below the rubble doesn’t imply that the [internal] rubble has been eliminated and that I’m in a great situation,” al-Qolaq defined.

Whereas the artist has used her work to cope with her trauma, it may well nonetheless come again, at a second’s discover.

Throughout the exhibition she took quick breaks, in a separate room, to “be alone”.

Al-Qolaq’s mentors on the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor instructed Al Jazeera that al-Qolaq nonetheless refuses to return to her former dwelling, and rejected the thought of holding the exhibition there.

Visitors take photos of Zainab's paintings.
Dozens of tourists attended al-Qolaq’s two-day artwork exhibition in Gaza [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

The bombing

After a brief break, al-Qolaq recalled the night time of the bombing.

“There was the sound of huge strikes, which shook the home. My mom instructed me that the partitions of our dwelling had been shaking,” she mentioned.

“Seconds later I discovered myself below the rubble, we had been all below the rubble.”

Beneath the rubble, al-Qolaq waited, unaware that so many members of her household had been killed.

“They had been lengthy hours. I used to be solely excited about my members of the family. Who has misplaced consciousness, who was in want of assist?” she mentioned.

Regardless of the large bombing, al-Qolaq dominated out the concept “one in every of them was killed”. “I used to be pushing onerous any concept on this context.”

On her arrival at a hospital she was knowledgeable that members of her household had been killed within the bombing. They had been quickly buried, with al-Qolaq unable to attend and bid them a ultimate farewell.

Zainab, her father and her brother.
Al-Qolaq with the one survivors from her instant household, her father Shokri and her brother Osama [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

Artwork conveys emotions

By her aspect as she recounted the horrible tales which have impressed her paintings was her father, Shokri.

The 50-year-old instructed Al Jazeera that he has needed to conceal his emotions and be robust in entrance of his kids, however the actuality was that he was feeling the loss, simply as a lot as them.

He ultimately labored to persuade his daughter, who was already an artist earlier than the air strike, to choose up her brushes once more.

“After the bombing, Zainab, who’s a inventive artist and cherished to attract, stopped fully. I attempted onerous to persuade her to renew portray, and after a number of makes an attempt I succeeded,” Shokri mentioned.

“Portray is a chance for coping with issues mentally. Zainab’s work are full of unhappy emotions and categorical the tough expertise she went by way of,” he added.

“Prior to now, Zainab’s drawings had been lively, love and colors, however now they’re lined in darkness.”

Al-Qolaq instructed Al Jazeera she used the “language of artwork” as it’s a common language that folks all over the world may perceive.

“I wished to convey my voice and my emotions, and for them to grasp the very tough moments I went by way of,” she mentioned.

“I do know that my loss is just too nice to be compensated, however I imagine that my mom and my brothers is not going to relaxation till their killers are dropped at account.”

Zainab looks to one of her paintings.
Al-Qolaq nonetheless suffers from the trauma of the bombing and the lack of her household [Abdelhakim Abu Riash/Al Jazeera]

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