Art van adds a splash of colour to drab Gaza life


Palestinian artist, Ammar Abu Shamalla, displays paintings for sale on an art van, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, in the southern Gaza Strip May 30, 2020. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

GAZA (Reuters) – Every day Ammar Abu Shamalla adds a little colour to drab routine life in Gaza, loading up his camper van with pictures he displays and sells in the Palestinian territory’s streets and markets.

He and wife Arwa, both jobless college graduates, did painting in their spare time before coming up with the idea of putting their hobby to more productive use.

“We wanted to display our paintings to the public in vital places… Amid the coronavirus, we also wanted to make living,” he told Reuters.

There are no art galleries in the territory, run by the Islamist Hamas group since 2007.

However, some private and public institutions hosted exhibitions before the start of the epidemic, which has infected 69 and led to one death there.

Depicting mainly landscapes, flowers or portraits, Abu and Arwa’s paintings hang off the sides of the van, and he brings out more from inside once he has parked it and crowds gather.

Three other local artists are also partners in the project and over the past few weeks the couple say they have sold about 200 for between $4 and $10 each – comparatively large sums in a sealed-off community where the unemployment rate is around 50%.

Reporting by John Stonestreet

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