Fragile Lives is Sam Mukumba’s new artwork which he has been developing for almost the last ten years. After exploring and experimenting with different materials on how to communicate atrocity, he decided to concentrate on ceramic sculpting which has given him the opportunity to convey the depth of the matter. The intention of this work is to raise awareness of human suffering and the devastating times the world is facing and going through today. This work expresses and is a record of these historical and challenging catastrophes that are causing exodus in many parts of the world.

The situation of the world today triggers Sam’s childhood memories of wars in Uganda where he grew up. As a child, without going into each graphic experience, he remembers very well the devastation of war zones. He remembers so clearly travelling on foot with masses of other people from region to region, very long distances, looking for safety. Life is precious: young and old, able and disabled without distinction, all forced to leave their homes and run or walk to safety. He remembers everyone’s swollen feet lasting for days. Every morning and evening everyone going through a ritual of nurturing their feet with lukewarm water. Families did whatever possible to escape the danger zones, while bombs flew over and landed not far from where they were. Friends and families losing lives. Each minute expecting to be next to depart this world.

In the last few years, Sam has been privileged to run art workshops (organised by the Big Leaf Foundation in Surrey) for young people who have managed to escape war zones and reach the United Kingdom. Some have come from as far away as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Eritrea and Egypt. He has listened to all sorts of horrific stories that some of these young people experienced and no human being deserves to go through. In addition, there are those whose bodies are buried at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea and their stories will never be heard, and those trapped in countries that deny their existence, in the end leading them into enslavement.

These stories – what Sam reads, watches on the news almost every day, and personal war experiences – are the reason why he has been inspired as an artist, to create this artwork, The Salvation Boat. In some ways, this action is his meditative prayer for a peaceful world. The intention of this sculpture is to provoke each individual’s consciousness and emotions to the realisation and innovativeness of ways and means how each of us can make a positive contribution to unravelling the root causes that force people from their homes.

It is not all doom and gloom. There are millions of people and organisations with big hearts who work tirelessly identifying, supporting and caring for these traumatised human beings 24 hours a day. That’s why characters in Sam’s sculptures show the resilience of human spirit and hope. Their faces are finished with ceramic gold as a representation of hope and reflective warmth from the God-given golden sun that rises each day and shines on each of us.
Sam’s dream is to show this work internationally on permanent exhibition, in public places such as museums, galleries, University libraries, hospitals and other public spaces.

If you are interested in this work in any way, please send him an email. Sam is continuing researching and developing this work around human migration and would love to collaborate with other artists or organisations supporting this cause to create a global impact in raising awareness.

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