UK artist Jonathan Darby painted recently a couple of murals for aptART (Awareness & Prevention Through Art), with the support of Mercy Corps.
Dealing with sociopolitical and humanitarian issues, the work of Jonathan Darby portrays people in cultural contexts where their innocence and vulnerability have been impacted by forces of social, economic and political change. This is the case of “Strength” and “Freedom of Thought”two of his last murals painted for artART during the last couple of weeks.

The first mural, “Strength” was painted in the village of Kharja, Jordan, just ten kilometers from the Syrian border, and depicts the portrait of a young woman wearing a scarf over her head. Her eyes are closed and her face surrounded by texts that written by local women.
The mural and the ideas expressed on this mural are a result of a meeting held at the local women’s gym, a meeting place and community space for Jordanian and Syrian women. The gym was built with the support of Mercy Corps and holds exercise classes, provides workout machines, and creates an environment for women to strengthen themselves and their bonds with one another.
The women who attend the gym met here to discuss issues of most importance to them, that is, topics such as the meaning of strength and what it means to be a woman. Ideas about leadership, community bonds, rights, resilience in adversity, and education were written down on paper and then discussed in a group. The women then painted their ideas across the wall, flanking the woman painted by Jonathan Darby. This image of a strong woman with the community’s messages stands as a beacon of inspiration for not only the women who attend the gym but for all who pass by.

The second mural, titled Freedom of Thought, depicts a similar image; the portrait of a woman with a peaceful expression on her face, eyes closed and facing the sky.
The mural refers to the fact that education is essential for a healthy and successful society. Both men and women deserve equal access to education and need role models to inspire them. As pointed by the organisation, images of female role models are not as present as male role models in schools. Again, and in an effort to inspire the girls to tell the world their ideas, a meeting was held at their school where they discussed issues of most importance to them. Ideas of freedom, equality and empowerment were shared and then painted on the wall as messages ascending until they reached the face of the woman portrayed by Jonathan Darby. Her face is adorned with tattoos traditional to Jordan. Inside her hijab reads, “The secret to creativity is the freedom of thought”. 

Images and info via AptART


Author: Fran

Founder and editor of Urbanite. Street Art lover who after the finishing her MA thesis on the muralist movement in the 1920-50s, developed a fascination for street art and graffiti that eventually led to collaborations with different art blogs, including the creation of this one.