French illustrator, Jean Jullien, listened on his radio as the details of the Paris attacks unfolded on November 13. “I thought we needed a message for peace,” he would say after creating the now iconic image of the Eiffel Tower at the center of a peace sign. “The main purpose of the image was to communicate peace and solidarity, and that’s exactly what it seems to have done.” The painting quickly became a unifying symbol across nations after Jullien shared a cell-phone picture of the illustration on his social media.

“I got someone emailing me saying they were happy to have seen my message because the feeling of peace and unity took over the raw anger that can come from such an event.”image02

Davide Martello, who was in a pub in Konstanz in Germany when the attacks began, decided within minutes to put his piano on a trailer and make the 400-mile trip. “I wanted to be there to try and comfort, and offer a sign of hope,” he said. “I can’t bring people back but I can inspire them with music and when people are inspired they can do anything. That’s why I played Imagine.”

The 34-year-old, who also performs under the name Klavierkunst, is known for travelling around conflict zones to play the piano. Martello also performed at the sites of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, in the Taksim demonstrations in Istanbul, the Maidan revolution in Kiev and the civil war in Donetsk.

“It was a feeling like for a little moment you forget what happened.” After finishing the song Martello drove straight back to Germany, stating that the scene was too overwhelming and emotional. “So I just played the song and then went back to my car and left because I couldn’t do any more. And I drove straight back to Germany.” However, by Monday morning, only two days later, he was back in Paris – taking a tour of the sites of the city’s attacks, pulling his piano on his bicycle and playing the same song at each place.

In Australia, artist Andrew Baines organized an installation in which 100 people stood on Henley Beach holding umbrellas in the colors of the French flag. Mr Baines said he designed the piece with solidarity in mind as the key message. “What I’m praying is that via the media and social media the Parisians will see that there’s a little place on the other side of the world called Adelaide, and we’re thinking of you.”image03

In each of these instances we can see how art acts as a universal language, providing comfort and peace. Art allows us to forget pain, even if it’s just for a moment. It allows us to heal one another, to stand in solidarity from more than 10,000 miles away. If you’re hurting, find peace in knowing that others have hurt before you and they’re willing to help you heal with the paintings they’ve made, the poems they’ve written, or the songs they’ve sung.

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today…

 

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace…

 

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one

 

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world…

 

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one

Written by EALS Executive Director AmyJo Foreman

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