Paralimni Square is acquiring a new mural this month made up of the artworks of 55 teenagers created as part of the cross-disciplinary, free cultural programme, Heliopolis Youth Culture. The project aimed to get them engaged with visual arts, philosophy and global issues and saw them working together to create a puzzle-structured mural which will be displayed at the square from Thursday.

The programme began in January under a newly established non-profit organisation based in Paralimni called Didaskalia Alexandrias that is set to host a variety of free culture-related activities. NGO founder Ashraf Shenouda, himself an artist and an ex-philosophy teacher, worked with two art teachers to guide the children in choosing and expressing their thoughts on a global issue through art. Delayed due to lockdowns and Covid-19 measures, it’s finally time for the mural to see the light of day.

The artwork is called We Are All A Piece Of The Bigger Picture and it showcases the youth’s understanding of global issues that manifest throughout the world today. Each participant chose an issue to focus on and with the help of the teachers, created a drawing. Some of the issues covered are the I Can’t Breathe movement, the pollution crisis and even the brainwashing of women. A total of 60 puzzle pieces were created and they will be put together to form the larger mural. This, Ashraf hopes, to be the first step in hearing younger voices.

image2“The puzzle-structured mural joins together all the pieces to form a bigger picture,” he said, “reflecting that we are all part of the problem but we can also all become part of the solution, as well visually showing the importance of collaboration as an effective way of building up towards a certain goal.”

Drawn on see-through puzzle pieces, the mural will be displayed against a yellow background, symbolising the sun which is an important element for the programme.

“The notion of Helios (the Sun) taken from the programme’s name, acts as the foundation of the whole mural, as a symbol of hope, enlightenment and positivity for the future, and therefore manifests within the mural through colour, imitating the effect of the sun’s penetrating rays. Some philosophical underpinnings also stem from this, considering the role of the Sun in earthly, spiritual and mythological thought, providing a glimpse into the following activities of the NGO’s programme.”

The NGO is set to host more activities and programmes soon though its purpose is not intellectual culture as Ashraf described but strictly emotive culture. “This is in accord with the ancients who believed that without the heart there cannot be good human beings, great leaders, and heroes. They called the heart our compass,” he said, “and our ship’s anchor, without which all ships inevitably land on the rocks.”

The mural will be on general display from Thursday until September 18 in Paralimni square opposite Ayios Giorgios Church. From 7pm to 8pm each day, Ashraf or the art teachers who took part in the programme will be there to offer guided presentations, explaining the concept and the forthcoming projects of Didaskalia Alexandria.

We Are All a Piece of the Bigger Picture

Collaborative mural artwork made by 55 teenagers, part of the Heliopolis Youth Culture programme. Organised by Didaskalia Alexandria. At Paralimni Square, opposite Agios Giorgios Church. September 9-18. Contact: [email protected]