Artist brings joy to children

Australian artist Luke Cornish’s plan was to travel to Syria to compete in boxing exhibition bouts with the Syrian Olympic team. Instead, he ended up running art workshops with local children.

“I broke my rib before we were supposed to leave (Australia), so I stepped in to do some filming for a camera crew that was going,” Cornish says.

“I just fell in love with the place.”

For the last year, the stencil artist has travelled through Damascus, Palmyra, Aleppo, Homs and Maaloula working with Syrian children.

Cornish’s new exhibition at Melbourne’s Metro Gallery, Zero to the Left, displays both his and the children’s work from his time spent in Syria.

He says stencil art has “evolved from the street art scene back in the 1970s”, but remains an accessible artistic method.

“It’s a method of getting a message out on the street, quickly, multiple times,” he says.

His stencil methods are significantly more sophisticated than early stencil work, which relied on one or two layers.

Some works, he says, involve “up to 1000 different layers”.

Also at the gallery are photographs Cornish took in Syria, printed using a technique called sublimation on aluminium, which is the process of pressing a transfer onto aluminium using heated ink.

Cornish describes a bleak situation in Syria, but says people are still trying to get by in difficult circumstances.

“There’s not much left, it’s all rubble, but there’s still people living there amongst it,” he says.

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