A television documentary 'Angola in the Frame' premieres on the UK Community Channel on 5 March 2008 at 21.00, following renowned war artist John Keane on his journey to the southern African country, meeting local people and gaining inspiration for the series of 11 new paintings commissioned by Christian Aid.
The documentary weaves together the making of his paintings with the powerful stories of the people he documented. The film is both an intimate portrait of an artist at work and of a country redefining its future.
Mr Keane travelled to Angola in August 2006 with Christian Aid to discover the issues faced by millions of young people living in the war torn country. He visited partner organisations in the capital Luanda and the remote southerly area of Mavinga in Kuando Kubango province.
The artist spent time with children who lost their parents during the 27-year civil war, which ended in 2002 and witnessed how children and adults are working together to rebuild their communities. War artists traditionally seek to tell the more intimate, hidden stories of war, especially after the cameras have gone.
The exhibition, 'John Keane: Angola', opens at Flowers Central, Cork Street, London, on 5 March and runs until 29 March 2008. It features large-scale figurative paintings with elements of collage and patterns evoking the Angolan culture and depicting the individuals whose stories moved him.
Almost half of Angola’s population is under the age of 15 and life expectancy is only 41 years. It has the third highest child mortality rate in the world with one in four children dying before their fifth birthday. This year Angola marks six years of peace but the road to full recovery will take much longer and will need international assistance for many years to come.
John Keane said, "As a father of two, the plight of children in Angola invited poignant comparison. I met children who had endured horrific hardships, who had seen their parents murdered in front of them, had spent many years in Zambia as refugees; damaged children who have no choice but to hope the future will be better than their past."
He continued: "In the work I have produced I have attempted to evoke the huge tasks of reconstruction and reconciliation in the face of enormous odds, but at the same time allude to the indomitable optimism of the human spirit I encountered in the new generation of post-war Angolans which, in difficult moments, I felt was almost the only resource available to them."
Fashion designer Nicole Farhi has teamed up with Mr Keane and Christian Aid to launch a range of limited edition clothing to highlight the plight of the millions of Angolan children. Prints from four of Keane’s paintings replicated on a selection of shirts, t-shirts and a unisex canvas bag are sold in Nicole Farhi’s London stores. The clothing is also on sale on the Christian Aid eBay store, with prices starting from £30.