We at the Children’s Art Foundation were very lucky to be given these extraordinary felt pen drawings by the Egyptian government in the late 1970s. Besides being unusually strong works of children’s art most of them depict a day in history that still resonates: the visit by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Israel in 1977 to negotiate a peace treaty. Most of these pictures depict the parade that celebrated his return from that visit.
This was an historic meeting. It was a meeting that led to signing of a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, two countries that had formerly fought each other. Sadat was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in bringing peace between Egypt and Israel. He was assassinated in 1981.
Stepping back from the history–just look at these astonishing drawings of crowds! Pay particular attention to the freedom with which space is depicted. The young artists do not try to use vanishing point perspective, the drawing system that makes objects and spaces look three dimensional, that makes them look real. You have a bird’s-eye view, or perhaps you can think of it as a helicopter view of some of the street scenes. In the image on the upper right you see a wall of people. Notice the vibrant colors–the imitative way in which color is used. These young artists felt free to interpret the excitement of the day through an imaginative use of color. In reality, Cairo’s streets look like ours. They are not pink or orange or blue or green or yellow. Cairo streets don’t change color at intersections. But, they do in a couple of these pictures–and none streets are colored grey or black.
You can also research these pictures for details of different lives and cultures, in specific points of history. Look at the second-to-last last picture, ‘Baking Bread at Home’. Note the details in the kitchen: a wood-fired bread oven; a kerosene light that suggests the house doesn’t have electricity; and the wash on the line. Look at the dress of the people in ‘Picking Oranges’, and how much manual labor is taking place. And get an insight into an Egyptian schoolyard in the 1980s in ‘Playing at School’. How different is it from any other school yard?
You can order any of these images as prints from the Children’s Art Foundation’s Stone Soup store. Just search for Egypt to bring up the full selection.