Flowery Barricades

Plastic art and festivals continue in the besieged al-Waʿr neighbourhood in Homs. ‎

(Photo: A view from the towers of Al-Waʿr that overlook its gardens and the old city of Homs, both controlled by the regime - Al-Waʿr neighbourhood - Homs - Spring 2014 [Radwan al-Khaled/Good Morning Syria])
‎(Al-Waʿr neighbourhood, Homs, Syria) The buildings in the al-Waʿr neighbourhood ‎have been ‏arbitrarily shelled with missiles since early 2013.
The neighbourhood still houses the residents of the old city of Homs, whose landmarks were destroyed by the conflict‎. ‎These people still grieve over the remains of the old city‎, ‎dreaming of going home‎. ‎
A number of the government snipers are located in regime-held regions and ‎buildings in the peripheries of the besieged neighbourhood (in the Homs ‎National Hospital, the al-Birr Hospital, al-Ghaba, the gardens (al-Basatin) and ‎al-Jazira at-Tasiʿa). Therefore, the opposition military factions built mounds made of debris and dirt, ‎and piled up demolished and burnt out cars on many lanes to prevent snipers from ‎spotting civilians. ‎
In 2015, a group of young amateurs passionate about plastic arts and painting initiated an ‎artistic activity in spite of the siege and the destruction, aiming to ‎turn the scary sight of the mounds into purposeful and funny ‎drawings that mock those who are responsible for the devastation.  ‎
This initiative managed to transform these sights which used to influence negatively the ‎neighbourhood residents into a positive form of art. The project continues to rely on limited ‎personal capacities despite the ‎lack of materials and their high prices when available. ‎
The same youth team has organised the Homs Documentary Film Festival, where‎emerging  photographers from the neighbourhood present documentaries about the reality of al-‎Waʿr. The winner receives a nominal amount of money and is ‎guaranteed his film’s copyrights. The second film festival will take place at the end of ‎‎2015. ‎
It is indeed remarkable that the al-Waʿr ‎neighbourhood is witnessing so many ‎festivals and youth events despite the on-going siege.