Haunting portrait of drowned refugee raises a four figure sum for charity


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POLITICAL: Artist Simone G. Malik’s oil painting of Aylan Kurdi, whose death caused a media stir last year as the story was so tragic

POLITICAL: Artist Simone G. Malik’s oil painting of Aylan Kurdi, whose death caused a media stir last year as the story was so tragic

Political painting provokes philanthropy 

An award winning painter from Bradford, who sold a stunning oil painting at a fundraising auction last month, has managed to raise over £1,000 for charity.

Artist Simone G. Malik, who specialises in portraits and abstract art, painted an emotionally stirring image of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Kurdish boy who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in September 2015 as part of the Syrian refugee crisis.

On 27th February, the artwork was sold for a four figure sum at Dewsbury’s Grand Banqueting Suite during the Oracle Magazine Awards Night.

She said: “The Syrian boy painting has been painted around the world by other artists. I had looked at what other people had done and there wasn’t an oil painting. It was something I felt very strongly about and people around the world were moved by it, too. I then had the opportunity to auction the painting and all the money went to Save The Children in Syria.”

Whilst working on the painting of Aylan, Simone felt a ‘surge of emotions unlike any other that [she’d] experienced’.

At her speech at the Oracle Awards she said: “Just like an author writes a story about their life experiences so that other people can learn from it and a singer may compose a song if they feel moved by the situation; I’m an artist and I take to my easel. I painted this because I felt that humanity had obviously failed and this was a depiction of humanity failing.”

SPEECH: Simone makes her speech about why she chose to draw the drowned refugee at the Grand Banqueting Suite in Bradford

SPEECH: Simone makes her speech about why she chose to draw the drowned refugee at the Grand Banqueting Suite in Bradford

Simone previously worked in the NHS after graduating from the University of Leeds with a psychology degree but, after being made redundant, she picked up her passion for painting again.

“I had always been a painter but I never had time for it,” she said.

“After posting some drawings on Facebook, I was lucky enough that BBC sports personality and football agent - Shehneela Ahmed – noticed me and commissioned me to paint her self-portrait.”

AWARD: The Bradford born artist won an award for ‘Best Celebrity Artist’ at the Oracle Magazine Awards 2016

AWARD: The Bradford born artist won an award for ‘Best Celebrity Artist’ at the Oracle Magazine Awards 2016

Famous faces that have been under the sweep of Simone’s brushstroke include singer Navin Kundra and Simon Cowell. Her latest commission is for the Jinnah group of restaurants in Bradford, where she will create portraits of Allama Iqbal, Fatima Jinnah and Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

She said: “Another commission I had was from former MP George Galloway. He absolutely loved his portrait. As a result of that, I was in the Respect Party campaigning for the women’s side for a while but I’m not political as such.

“If I feel moved by something I will do it, but at my core I’m an artist. I’m a free soul and I follow my heart.”

Many people have asked Simone why she chose such a heartbreaking image.

“People wanted to turn their eyes away from it,” she said, “what I would like to say is, in painting this tragic image of a dead boy, I have kept the reality and truth alive.

“It is very important that we keep our eyes open and face the truth so we can do something about it. We have to keep the truth alive for all of humanity. I’m not talking about a specific race or religion, I’m hoping the funds raised from selling this painting will go towards helping every single person who is in need.”

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