Decades ago South Cariboo artist Claudia Ring witnessed the Israeli-Palestine conflict firsthand.
Then 20 years old, Ring visited Israel in 1964 to make amends for the actions of the German people during World War Two. Living in the Nahal Oz kibbutz near the Gaza Strip she worked as a fruit picker for a year. Even back then she said you could feel the tension.
“Already then you could see rocks flying and a lot of hostility. The Palestinians would throw rocks and the Israelis took us on a trip through the desert and were harassing the Bedouins,” Ring said. “They were already trying to protect or conquer the land. It felt awkward.”
Watching first the terrorist attack by Hamas On Oct. 7, which targeted Nahal Oz among other locations, and later the airstrikes and current military operation launched by the Israeli Defence Force against the Gaza Strip, Ring decided she had to make a statement. Her mind turned to a piece of art she created 10 years ago while in art school in Nelson.
Titled My Anti-War Piece, the artwork is a three-dimensional image created using pictures, felt white poppies and bullet casings. The effect is chaotic and thought-provoking, which Ring said was entirely intentional.
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“I wanted to show that everything is happening at the same time. I like that it looks kind of messy,” Ring said. “There’s a lot of people (who look at it) and start crying.”
Coming to terms with and confronting humanity’s history of violence is important, Ring said. Growing up in post-war Germany Ring said she didn’t learn about the Holocaust until she was a young adult. Her parents, a doctor and a nurse, never talked about their wartime experiences.
“Our parents, our teachers, everybody was tainted, or whatever you want to call it, by the war. They didn’t want to talk about it,” Ring said. “They didn’t deal with it and I don’t blame them.”
Since the war began Ring has found herself unable to look away and is deeply saddened by the loss of life. She said that it’s shameful that world leaders aren’t calling for a ceasefire or more loudly condemning the loss of Palestinian civilian life
“They say so many times that the Jews were victims and have become victimizers and now it seems like that and I think it’s awful,” Ring said. “I think we shouldn’t close our eyes to it, we should feel it. We should feel compassion for what’s happening there.”
By hanging her art at Parkside Art Gallery Ring hopes that she’ll provoke thought and make people consider the impact of war and conflict. Even though it may not be comfortable to think about, she said it’s important we do.
“It’s important to deal with our history. Some of the pictures (in the piece) are thousands of years old and war has been there the whole time.”