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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 November 2007, 13:39 GMT
Art inspired by landmine victims
By Caroline Hawley
BBC News

Limbs have been torn off and flesh ripped apart. A woman has a breast missing. Yet the injured bodies are strangely beautiful. They are art - with a difference.

Blake Ward with his sculptures
Fragments is showing at La Galleri in central London

Fragments, a new exhibition of sculptures that has just opened in London, aims to draw attention to the terrible suffering landmines cause.

The 20 bronze sculptures by Canadian-born artist Blake were all inspired by landmine victims.

Proceeds from sales of the works will go directly towards tackling the problem.

"It's figurative art, but we call it disfigurative art," says the project manager, Randall Kehrig.

"The sculptures have been deliberately disfigured to draw attention to the issue of landmines. We think this exhibition is unique."

'Shattered lives'

Money raised, the organisers say, will go to "save communities around the world from the horrifying legacy of unexploded weapons".

Someone will die from a landmine today
Blake Ward

The No More Landmines Trust will use it for supporting survivors, educational awareness and mine clearance.

Each sculpture is named after a different type of landmine - Butterfly PFM 1, Pineapple Cluster BLU 3, Putkimiina M68 and Apple P-40.

"Sadeye CUB-75" is a man with no eyes.

"Landmines regularly blind people," says Blake. "The exhibition is called Fragments because that's what landmines create. They shatter people's lives. They destroy beauty."

Blake - real name Blake Ward - was inspired to create the sculptures after a spell teaching art in Vietnam in 2003, when he also travelled to Cambodia and was shocked by the number of amputees he saw on the streets.

'Cruel legacy'

Blake Ward with his sculptures
Blake Ward says his art is "part of the solution"

"I'd grown up watching television pictures of Vietnam," he told the BBC News website.

"And I was mad that a war that I thought was over was still taking and ruining lives."

The UN says that landmines kill or maim 15,000 to 20,000 people every year, in about 80 countries.

A treaty banning the weapon was signed 10 years ago - in December 1997.

Since then, global production and export of landmines has decreased significantly, but the weapons leave a cruel and long-term legacy making farmland inaccessible and hampering economic development.

"Three of the biggest economies in the world - Russia, the US and China - haven't signed that agreement and the public's lost interest in the issue," says Blake.

"Princess Diana drew attention to it, but now people have forgotten. And landmines claim victims who weren't even born when the conflict in their country ended. Someone will die from a landmine today."

Already, the pre-show sale of one of Blake's sculptures - which sell for between 12,000 and 18,000 - has helped to destroy 318 unexploded weapons around the Vietnamese villages of Hung Loc and Tu Loan, and to carry out a survey of landmines in Angola.

"I see hope in these pieces, even though they're tragic," says Blake of his art work.

"Because they are part of the solution -- maybe only a small part, but a part nonetheless."

Fragments runs at La Galleri, 5 Pall Mall, central London until 17 November 2007.

SEE ALSO
New bomb clean-up treaty begins
12 Nov 06 |  Europe
UN marks landmine awareness day
04 Apr 06 |  Americas

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