BEIRUT: “Teach a Child”, a Lebanese NGO that provides financial help to citizens below poverty, is collaborating with British artist Tom Young to paint more colorful lives for children in the country through art.
Young's exhibition took place at the Yacht Club, Zaytoona Bay, with 40 percent of the profit going to provide educational funds for children in need.
Young’s 50 oil paintings at the gallery featured heritage buildings he wanted to bring to the attention of the public and memories of an “authentic” Beirut we now only see in old photographs.
The exhibited works are “his best over the past five years,” he told Annahar.
Young is showcasing an animation of the process that his paintings had undergone before they were done. He has even obtained an exclusive footage in the infamous Holiday Inn hotel, something considered very rare to happen. It is the only footage taken there after 30 years.
Below is a video of the animation:
For any respective viewer, deciding more beautiful is a challenge, including those of Villa Paradiso, The Rose House, Al Zaher, Beit Boustani, or Beit Fairuz.
“Teach a Child” is entering its sixth year, Zaina Souaid, member at the NGO tells Annahar. The NGO, which was founded by Zeina El Khalil realized that there are ways other than gala dinners the city to fundraise for the cause.
So far, the NGO has helped 1,311 children and funded over 175 institutions all over Lebanon, without any discrimination of gender or religion.
Souaid said the NGO’s chief aim was to “give the right of education for everyone.”
Zaina Souaid, member at "Teach a Child" (Annahar Photo)
She added that “Education is the only right that no one can take from you; and since there is no law for compulsory education in Lebanon, we struggle to give this right.”
Teach a Child pays the registration fees, stationery, books, and the transportation fees for the selected students.
So far, the NGO got positive feedback over the exhibition. “People can come and give themselves a treat by buying a beautiful painting of our beloved city, and at the same time, part of what they pay is going to help a child get good education,” Souaid said.
The gallery is open until 9:00 on Saturday; and not all the paintings are sold yet.
Visitors looking at Young's paintings at the exhibition (Photo taken by Karim Sakr)
On their official website, Teach a Child mention that they are lobbying for the effective implementation of the law on compulsory education.
Young said that he does a lot of work with NGOs working with disadvantaged children.
“As a society, we all have a responsibility to help children who have no family or country,” he noted.
He was interested in collaborating with Teach a Child, since he believed that the future depends on children. “I loved how the NGO follows up with children until university and have no preference.”
Talking about his paintings, Young indicated that he likes to reveal the heritage of certain buildings and to preserve it.
“I think it's precious; especially that a lot of the memories are getting lost, such as the house of the iconic Lebanese singer Fairouz”
A black and white painting revealing people sunbathing had many visitors staring at it. It was inspired by an old photograph Young had found in boxes at Villa Paradiso; an old heritage house he painted inside. That was Beirut’s golden age.
“By painting those I was celebrating a memory. I painted and then wiped the paint as if I was wiping a memory myself,” the painter spoke about one the heritage houses he painted.
He said that he is inherently interested in history and memory. He traveled a lot and used to live in an old house in London while growing up.
Young could describe in words what he feels for Lebanon. “Look at my paintings and you will know how this country makes me feel,” he says.
“I am trying to do everything I can to save these memories and places, such as the Holiday Inn,” he says. The iconic building in which the majority of shares are now owned by a Kuwaiti Princess, as Young informs us, needed permissions that took around a year until he could paint there.
“It's a building that represents something that is still unresolved; and if I can do something to transform that place then that would be definitely be worth it,” he told Annahar.
Interior Blue , 40cm x 30cm oil painting by Tom Young (Tom Young file/photo)
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