‘THE CIRCLE OF PEACE’ (2006)
‘THE CIRCLE OF PEACE’
PAINTED by 185 LIBRARY MEMBERS and STAFF
of SPRINGVALE LIBRARY SPRINGVALE VICTORIA AUSTRALIA
1.8m x 2.8m
Aided by a grant to Makor Jewish Community Library from the state of Victoria’s Multicultural Commission’s “2004-2005 Community Strengthening Program”, The Circle of Peace project ran through the summer months of 2006 at the Springvale Library in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
This location - Springvale having a large and culturally diverse migrant population - was carefully chosen as an ideal place to host a community artwork project for women and girls from many different backgrounds and faiths. The initial aim of the ‘Circle of Peace’ project was to foster inter-faith understanding, community cohesion and harmony. It was anticipated that the act of uniting women from the Islamic, Jewish and Christian communities in the common goal of creating a community artwork would assist in developing ties and understanding between these three culturally diverse groups.
The first weeks saw women and girls from all faiths and nationalities happily working together, in the spirit of friendship and harmony in the common goal of creating this spectacular artwork.
The young Muslim women of Minaret College in Springvale expressed their thoughts about life in Australia and the importance of such peace projects in the following words: “Even though we all have different beliefs, we live in harmony and it is a wonderful thing to create a peace tree and peace doves that symbolize this harmony. This painting symbolizes everything that the world is in need of today”.
The exhilaration that art and creativity can bring is demonstrated not only in those words but also by the life and energy that radiates from the colours of the canvas. With careful consideration of one another’s work, each of the one hundred and eighty-five participants, many of whom had never picked up a paint brush before, skillfully decorated their area of the canvas with symbols and colours which had meaning for them.
The Circle of Peace project exceeded our initial modest expectations. It has brought joy and a sense of achievement and something unique and special to each of the participating artists. As one artist participant expressed it, “the process of peace is growing and we are all working together”. This sentiment is an example of how women can join together to create a powerful expression of hope and beauty.
As we live together in freedom in a vibrant democracy like Australia, it is important to remember that projects such as the Circle of Peace demonstrate that women and girls from all parts of the world are alike in their love of peace and understanding, irrespective of religion, and we as human beings are much more alike, on the things that matter, than we are different.
Dr. Julie Gross McAdam gratefully acknowledges The Victorian Multicultural Commission and their generous grant to Makor Jewish Community Library.