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Recycled Grace

One Palestinian artist's journey to find beauty in scrap

(Photo Source: Basel Amad)

Jerusalem24 – Mohammad Hamayel – The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, once wrote “the aim of art is not to represent the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” He defined art as the realization of a form of a true idea, and traced it back to the natural love of imitation that characterizes humans. Art has changed since Aristotle’s time over 2300 years ago, and the only limits of that change is the artist’s imagination.

A ship Basel Amad had carved and made (Photo Source: Basel Amad)

In modern day Jerusalem, Basel Amad has taken a different take on the change of art. The 62 year old always had a passion for art. “I always loved art, ever since I was school,” says Amad. He continues by saying “They would give us these geometrical worksheets, but my ambitions were much larger than those worksheets gave me.” Amad finished school and studied in the United Kingdom, there his love for art was met with curiosity. While living in the UK, he saw for the first time a ship in the bottle. “They blew my mind,” he says “I eventually found a book “the secrets of ships in bottles.” He began practicing, bringing a bottle and some wood, carving and shaping the wood he successfully managed to put a ship inside a bottle. “It wasn’t straight, it was a little wobbly but this was my beginning,” he told Jerusalem24, and he continued by saying that “with practice I began making better and more complex ships in bottles.”

The realities of life had him step away from art for the sake of his family. Later on, he returned to life. But with a new awareness he gained by a life time of experiences. His newest foray into art involved using scrap and junk. “I began this project when I started hearing about the problems of pollution and global warming,” he said. “While we don’t have large industries here, we still have a lot of pollution.” Picking up scraps of old machines, he began recycling and reshaping them. According to alAmad, “Recycling is a big field, there are a lot of materials available that have different shapes; all you need is an imagination.” He uses the different materials and imagines what these shapes can become. He always enjoyed taking apart machines, seeing what was inside of them and trying to understand how they work. He didn’t always know how to put them back together again, but it was a “fun activity he enjoyed doing.”

(Photo Source: Basel Amad)

Copper is one of my favorite materials, the way it shines and the way it bends. It’s simply beautiful.

– Basel Amad, Palestinian Artist

While Amad has succeeded in creating priceless works of art with a passion, the challenges he face were never simple. Seeing his art improving, Basel had tried sharing this passion with others. Basel had ” tried to train people in working this kind of art.” The main obstacle he faces is finding support for his art. Encountering difficulties in finding support from the various organizations in Jerusalem that support artists. “There is a problem with cultural centers, some say they are interested,” says Amad. He continues, “but no real support was given for my art.”

“No one is interested in the art, people who see it call it pretty but no one has ever purchased any of my work.”

– Basel Amad, Palestinian Artist

(Source: Basel Amad)

While Basel continues his work, he faces many of the same challenges that other Palestinian artists also face. The lack of financial support for their work is one of the main issues that the Palestinian cultural scene faces. Whether it is the lack of interest of cultural organizations, or the absence of any government programs to help these artists get their work the attention it needs. “All the efforts and materials I use such as welding materials and files come from my own pocket,” says Amad. Supplies and tools require money, that money usually comes from the pockets of the artists.

Despite all that, Amad and hundreds of other Palestinian artists who experiment and try new ideas continue to develop new and imaginative works to inspire the imaginations and feelings of people who will see their art. “No one compensates me for my work or time,” says Amad .

Regardless, he reaffirms his own devotion to his work “this is a passion, I do it because I love it;” he says. He continues to say “Thank God I do something I enjoy.”

(Source: Basel Amad)

Mohammad Hamayel

Ramallah based journalist, Mohammad graduated from Al-Quds University with a B.A. in Media and Television. He has covered the 2015 Jerusalem Intifada as well as the Great March of Return for international media outlets. currently an editor/presenter at Jerusalem24. A UN alumni and a follower of global events and politics, especially American affairs.

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