Haiti, which gained independence in 1804, was the world’s first black-led republic. However, it is also a country prone to large scale disasters including the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. For this project, we collaborated with Médecins Sans Frontières in Cite Soleil, one of the largest slums in Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, and created a mural on the MSF hospital located there.
The aim of drawing a cheerful mural at the medical facility was to help with patients’ mental health care and by getting the patients to participate to make them actively aware. This led to a wonderful creative exchange with patients, their family members, and staff, and we believe it had a good effect on the medical facility too.
I took the concept of this mural from the Haitian folk tale The Magic Orange Tree. This tale is part of a special genre of storytelling based on the theme of begging for food and lodgings during the 18th century plantation period and which has been passed down through the generations by master storytellers. It is about an unusual orange tree that can grow very large and produce lots of fruit. Using a whole wall, I drew a forest rich with flora and fauna like the one that appears in the story and painted an orange tree laden with fruit to represent hope. The mural this time was painted on the wall of a hospital, so I hope it has created a space where the injured and sick can gather to rest and made the hospital a relaxing place. The green of plants is said to have a soothing effect, so my image was to create a calming space that felt as if it were in the middle of a rich, lush forest.
The children in Haiti made a flag that will be passed on to the children in next year’s location of Pakistan. A new flag will then be created by those children in Pakistan to pass on to the following country.
I ran art classes for the children of the special needs school L’Ecole de Saint Vincent using materials kindly supplied by Sakura Color Products Corporation. Together with the children, some of whom were deaf or blind, we used acrylic paints to freely create pictures and awards were given for the best works.
At the end of the bumpy, potholed road stands a large iron gate.
Bearing a red and white logo along with a sign saying that no-one with a gun can pass through, this thick, heavy gate slowly opens at a signal from a transceiver. This is the base camp for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), who work on the front lines of war-torn areas around the world, and it was at this location that our activities that we had so long dreamed of begins.
The temperature in Haiti climbs rapidly during the day, so we start our work early in the morning. We are woken while it’s still dark and turned out of our mosquito-net covered beds. The continuous days of work and sunburn make our bodies ache, but this does not phase Jeffy, who comes knocking on our door.
「Hi Bro! Good morning!」
The MSF hospital in the Cite Soleil commune of the capital of Port-au-Prince may be in a slum town lined with barracks, but this facility is beautiful and verdant, almost like another world. We can feel a cool morning breeze as we start work; however, after several hours a strong sun shines down on us and we are covered in sweat. As this Caribbean island is so far from Japan, we found it difficult to obtain local information. We couldn’t make contact with people as we hoped and due to safety concerns, we were going to cancel the project. But then we met a young local called Jeffy and it became possible.
In the evenings, a hospitalized mother, Karin, comes to teach Minuk the Creole language. Jushi, a patient with full body burns, is searching for photos of plants, thinking about what to draw today. As the sun begins to go down, MSF staff members finishing work start to gather around and before we know it, we are painting the mural surrounded by lots of people. The project leader Marie comments, “I know it’s important to have art in places giving medical treatment. This is sure to bring positive change to the MSF facility.”
There’s Michael who loves his cigarettes, Tatiana as radiant as the sun, joke-loving Ro, mood-maker Morgan, the genius Bernard, the wonderful dancer Terrie, and Mario who loves cooking. All of them join in to paint the mural.
They all work in war zones around the world and creating this mural together in Haiti will hopefully be a lasting memory for them. Although the situation in Haiti is still unstable, I’d like to visit again and see this mural. The bright sunshine and rich greenery of Haiti is well reflected.
July 20 2019
Over the Wall – A Global Mural Project
Artist: Kensuke Miyazaki
The Magic Orange Tree
July 12 2019
1,200 x 400 cm
Children’s Ward Mural
July 14 2019
800 x 250 cm
July 16 2019
2,000 x 250 cm
Recreation Room Mural
July 16 2019
600 x 250 cm
Over the Wall Annual Supporters/Over the Wall Passport Holders
© Over the Wall