Bangalore, January 4, 2014: “The hardest part of the disaster was the evacuation and being separated from my friends and the life I was accustomed to,” recalls 13-year-old Yuzuki Shishido, a former resident of Fukushima, Japan, who had to move out after the nuclear accident in March 2011, following a tsunami and earthquake.
Yuzuki now lives with her family in Sapporo in northern Japan. “My mother forbids me from playing in the parks since the day of the disaster. My best friend has moved to a different town and left me behind. I did not want to be apart from my friends and I assume my mother must have felt the same,” Yukuzi says here on Friday.
Yukimi Hagiwara, another resident who survived the disaster caused by the failure of the Daiichi nuclear power plant, now lives in Kyoto (west Japan). The disaster has left more than emotional scars. She is concerned that her two daughters, aged 11 and 8, have health issues and irregular blood pressure at such a young age. “We could not bathe for five days after the incident and felt weak. I had diarrhoea owing to contaminated food and our injuries would take longer time to heal than usual. Even now, my daughters get tired easily and their blood pressure is not always at the normal level. In cold weather, their feet and hands darken and swell up. I feel worried but am helpless,” she says.
She recently visited her old home in Fukushima was saddened by what she saw. “I used to watch a lot of birds fly near my house. Now I could not see any.” Yuzuki and Ms. Hagiwara are some of the people from Japan painting a ‘Born-Free Guernica’ to promote peace. The project is an attempt at promoting an anti-war symbol like the original Guernica, painted by Pablo Picasso to represent the Spanish village that was bombed in 1937.
Rena Masuyama, an artist who is part of the Born Free organisation in Japan, said she had heard many stories about victims of the Fukushima disaster and wanted to express their experiences through art. “Art connects people and I was moved when I saw some children painting about their experiences in Nagasaki. We later coordinated with the art school here and decided to do something similar. Next summer, I want to bring 20 more children from Fukushima to India,” she said.
The ‘Born-Free’ Guernica, which measures 36 ft x 11 ft, is being painted by 23 persons, including seven from Japan. It includes images and symbols of nuclear radiation, child labour and war.
It will be exhibited on Saturday at the Indian Social Institute here in Benson Town.
The exhibition is being organised by the Born Free Art School, Bangalore, and the Born Free art organisation in Japan. Director of the art school here in Bangalore, John Devaraj, said children of the school were participating in the project. “We are using art as therapy to help bring them back to the mainstream,” he said.