South African artist's Faith XLVII new series, 'Medicinal Flowers of Lebanon' leads us along brittle sites of Beirut, tracing past and present scars etched into the city. Each flower urges us in a sense, towards healing as they grow out of the concrete.
Healing the City With Medicinal Flowers of Lebanon
Poppies, chicories, clematis, and rosehips bloom from the debris and ruined buildings in Beirut, Lebanon, in this mural series by Faith XLVII. The South African artist traveled to Lebanon this September as part of Underline, an ongoing by the art collective Persona in collaboration with Art of Change, and contributed with her series called 'Medicinal Flowers of Lebanon.'
The Underline Project
The vision of this project focuses on recovering the historical relationship that the different cultures of the Mediterranean countries always had and now are currently lost due to socio-political and economic issues. The European borders, increasingly reinforced, prevent cultural exchange and cancel the perception of everything that does not fall within the region. Isolation worsens and it is more difficult to realize the critical situation that we are facing globally, be it due to the depletion of resources, the migration crisis, or climate change.
Underline promotes an idea of a cross-border artistic community based on the dissemination of Human Rights through different actions. They understand art as a tool that generates community and social transformation. Underline works activism from art, directly in the public space and with the people of the territory.
The Healing Properties of Medicinal Flowers of Lebanon
The chosen flowers and botanicals are all known for their healing properties and history of medicinal use, urging us - and the city - towards healing as the murals sprout from the concrete. On the artist's Instagram page, Faith XLVII tells us about each mural and her reasoning behind choosing certain flowers for this project.
"Clematis flammula is to be used with caution and in the proper dosage. When crushed, the young fragments of this plant can be applied to the skin to induce blood draining. Clematis is used for rheumatism, headaches, varicose veins, syphilis, gout, bone disorders, ongoing skin conditions, and fluid retention. Some people apply clematis directly to the skin for blisters and in a wet dressing to treat infected wounds and ulcers."
A Period of Crisis
Faith's visit to Beirut happened during a period of crisis, following the devastating port explosion on August 4th, 2020, that left the country without a fully operative government for 13 months and accelerated its economic collapse. The second mural in her Medicinal Flowers of Lebanon series, Carlina Involucrata, was a brutal accomplishment to complete in the blazing sun, according to the artist. But a few days after she painted it, the entire cement block was destroyed, flowers and all.
Medicinal Flowers of Lebanon is the first project Faith has done since the end of 2019 but the artist explains on her Instagram that she truly felt ready to again co-create with the world around her. "It’s taken a lot of questioning and some silence and I feel once more a sense of purpose except this time in a much more intimate sense. From this day forward I aim to create talismans." Visit Faith XLVII's Instagram page to see and read more about this project.