Women directly affected by the Christchurch terror attacks have turned photographs of lost loved ones into artworks which are now being made into a powerful new exhibition.
Tomorrow marks the fourth anniversary of the shootings at two city mosques on March 15, 2019, that left 51 people dead.
Over a series of therapeutic workshops, women who had family and friends murdered in the attacks have turned carefully-selected, deeply-personal photos, which they also felt communicated healing and peace, into remarkable prints.
The inks for the final prints showcased in Raising Sakinah: Finding Peace, which is set to open at the city’s Tūranga library later this month, were made using organic material gathered from the thousands of tributes left outside Al Noor Mosque, Linwood Islamic Centre, and the city’s Botanic Gardens.
Dr Kiran Munir, who lost her husband in the terror attack, took part in the Finding Peace workshops.
She feels that the ink made from the tributes is a metaphor for the outpouring of love and support from the public.
“It was also intended to charge the prints with the stories and experiences of individuals in order to help others moving through grief, and to invite viewers to see them as an embodiment of healing, unity and social cohesion in the context of diversity.”
Project co-ordinator Colombian-born New Zealand artist and photographer Janneth Gil, along with social worker Rebecca Parnham and consultant local artist Sudi Dargipour, funded by the Philip Carter Trust, worked with the women on the artworks.
It comes under the Darkness into Light project, undertaken by Gil since the terror attack to provide support to those impacted by the tragic events and to promote social change.
She said the exhibition is the final stage of the Finding Peace journey for the women, which will allow them to express and communicate their messages to the wider community.
“The exhibition will amplify the women’s voices and help their community to find ways of healing which connects to their beliefs of peace and tranquillity and spirituality, or Sakinah,” she said.
Ambreen Naeem, who lost her husband and son at Al Noor Mosque, says the workshops have helped her on her healing journey.
“Art is a way to express our ideas and feelings. I couldn’t have expressed my feelings like this in normal life,” she said.
The exhibition also encourages viewers to remember those lost in the terror attacks, reconsider their own unconscious biases that lead to racism and discrimination, and encourage understanding and acceptance of diversity, Gil said.
“We hope the exhibition will engage with a variety of people, open conversations, and encourage greater connection and empathy, which is needed to create a more cohesive society,” she said.
- Raising Sakinah/Finding Peace runs from March 25 – May 21 at Te Pito Huarewa, Southbase Gallery, Level 2, Tūranga.