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Detail, Four Avega Women, Helen Wilson

Detail, Four Avega Women, by Helen Wilson


Detail from Four Avega Women , a painting by Helen Wilson.

To me, this is one of the most powerful paintings in the series. I wanted to paint more of the women I met, all of whom had AIDS and eight years on were still dying. I decided to paint just four of the women, much larger than life. These women live with the memories of watching their loved ones, children and grandchildren being raped and killed in the genocide, and the sense of loss makes it hard for them to go on living. The woman on the right is 92 years old and lost eleven children and grandchildren. Only one of the women is looking directly at us from the painting, as if judging the world for standing by and doing nothing to avert the tragedy. The AVEGA women wanted me to paint their stories as large as I could so the world would not forget.
Words of the artist.

AVEGA is the association of widows of the genocide, which works to improve the lives of women who have lost their husbands.

Helen Wilson is an artist who lives and works in Bristol.
In 2002, she visited Rwanda, where she met surviviors of the genocide in 1994.
Genocide means the planned or ordered killing of a racial or cultural group.

As a result of this visit, Helen returned,
…with a clear mission: to express through my artwork as much about Rwanda as it is today. I would paint the Rwanda I had seen, the beauty and the tragedy, and the dignity and grace of its people in the aftermath of the genocide.

These paintings formed a temporary display at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in 2003, called Making Sense – a Rwandan Story.

Copyright: Copyright Helen Wilson

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