Two months ago, a deadly chemical explosion shook the capital city of Beirut. The blast disintegrated the port, and a violent shockwave shattered neighborhoods in the vicintiy.
Lives were lost, thousands were injured, many still waiting for the last pieces of glass to emerge from under their skin. While grieving the victims, residents had to deal with extensive property damage.
Homes are in ruins, cars were damaged beyond repair, and people’s personal belongings remain lost beneath the rubble.
Among many things destroyed in the blast, were valuable art pieces, paintings, stain glass artwork, and more. Just as engineers are helping restore homes and streets, Lebanese artists are restoring the artwork of Beirut’s heritage.
Stained glass artist Maya Husseini, who famously designed the stunning windows at the Sursock Museum, has enough work on her hands now that she might not be able to start some restorations for another two years.
Sadly, decades of her work restoring glass damaged in the civil war were reduced to shreds. It is a painstaking process for the Lebanese artist, who had planned to retire just before the blast pull her back into work.
Lebanese artwork conservation specialist and historian Gaby Maamary, of Art Nub Beirut, has also taken it upon himself to restore damaged paintings for free.
He launched the Fine Art Heritage Rescue initiative to offer assistance to artists, galleries, collectors, private owners, and more, in an attempt to preserve Beirut’s cultural heritage.
In an interview with AFP, he said he was surprised by the number of calls he was receiving for that purpose.
It is certainly a big challenge for these artists. Creating an art piece is something, but recreating it from what’s left of it is something else. It requires more than creativity. It needs recollection, outstanding skills, precision, and a huge amount of patience, and most importantly, love.
Love for arts, sure, but that’s love for one’s country and heritage.
Step by step, Beirut will stand tall again in all its beauties, preserving the past, and building a better future.