Leaders to the Future explore innovative approaches to promote peace: transforming destruction into creation with Humanium Metal
On Friday 14 April, the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs’ (ODA) #Youth4Disarmament Initiative co-facilitated a creative session with IM Swedish Development Partner’s Humanium Metal a non-profit organization that transforms seized firearms into non-lethal commodities for peace, such as buttons, spoons, watches and crayons. The session was moderated by Marianna Campaldini, Humanium Metal Intern, and Lumnije Maksuti, Humanium Metal Fellow.
Art provides a powerful tool for expressing ideas, emotions, and messages, and the workshop that took place demonstrated just how impactful it can be. The workshop aimed to showcase how art can be used to promote peace and security, as well as underlined the need to use creativity to engage, educate and empower the wider public on topics related to disarmament.
Led by Frank To, a contemporary Scottish artist with a growing reputation on the Scottish and international art scene, the workshop provided the Leaders to the Future an opportunity to explore innovative ways to promote disarmament through art.
Prior to the workshop, each participant received a set of crayons made from the Humanium Metal pastel, which Frank To created during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Tam Chung, Senior Political Affairs Officer with ODA emphasized the importance of art in connecting people and stimulating curiosity and dialogue. He also stressed the importance of disarmament as a practical means of preventing armed conflict and promoting peace and security.
The workshop began with an icebreaker exercise in which participants drew their favorite activity with their eyes closed, creating a safe and open space for the group to exchange their perspectives. This exercise also enabled the participants to familiarize themselves with the Humanium Metal crayons. Frank To spoke about the history of the initiative and the various products that have been made from destroyed, seized arms.
The Humanium Metal pastel is a development in both the art and humanitarian fields, he noted. Frank To then demonstrated the process for using the crayons, providing participants with techniques for creating their own artworks. The participants were encouraged to use the crayons by breaking them and using them on paper or soaking them in water to create texture and different shadings for the portraits. For the second part of the workshop, participants were invited to draw an animal that symbolized peace to them.
The art process and use of previous remnant of weapons led the Leaders to the Future to share their feelings about using the crayons. Ms. Christelle Barakat, from Lebanon, expressed her appreciation for turning something destructive into a symbol of beauty and peace. Mr. Joon Baek, from the Republic of Korea, discussed the importance of focusing on the people using the weapons, rather than just the weapons themselves. The workshop also touched upon the gender dimensions of disarmament, as Mr. Percy Abvain, from Cameroon drew a lioness to symbolize the strength of women leaders and decision-makers, and Ms. Damayanti Prabasari, joining from Indonesia drew a tree and a butterfly, symbolizing the importance of equality for marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ youth. Other drawings included cranes, sheep, an owl, a buffalo, an eagle and a cat.
Using the Humanitarian Metal crayons, participants were able to express their ideas and emotions about disarmament, creating beautiful and meaningful pieces of art. The workshop was a reminder that art can be a valuable tool in promoting peace and security, and that artists have a role to play by using their talents to address important issues in society, including the promotion of peace and disarmament.
Check out the different drawings on #Youth4Disarmament Flickr page.
Text by Lisa Hamdaoui.