Image from Oxfam
It's one thing to sit in London and worry about climate change. It's another to visit and experience it first hand. That's what Jamie Hewlett, an animator renowned for his work with Gorillaz, the virtual band and the Tank Girl comics did. He went with the charity Oxfam and drew this series of 9 watercolours which depict the beauty and fragility of life in a Bangladeshi village under siege.
Hewlett visited Char Atra, an island of seven towns and 10,000 people in the middle of the Ganges River. They are experiencing serious flooding due to climate change. His paintings depict everyday life and the people who live there. The limited edition of the paintings will be for sale through Oxfam.
Images from Oxfam
Almost 80% of Bangladesh is a floodplain. Climate change is making things worse because of rising sea levels and glacial melting in the Himalayas. The increasing sea levels mean that more water is swept inland during storms and is infiltrating the fresh water supply.
Oxfam has been active in the area for years working with the people to help them learn how to prepare for floods and monsoons. They raise their homes up on a clay base to protect them from the flood waters. They store food and firewood on platforms above their beds to keep them dry.
Hewlett was very moved by his experience of spending a week in the town with the townspeople. The paintings, all in sepia tones, are very delicate and show a realism unlike his usual animation style. He says:
"Char Atra is such an idyllic place and it's horrific to think of it being simply washed away, devastating the community. I wanted my paintings to be optimistic as well as realistic and I wanted to show what a beautiful place it is. I hope by concentrating on the people and their every day lives that I have given people here in Britain something they can relate to."
He was particularly impressed by the children and their strength and resiliency. There is a charming video of him teaching a class how to do a little animated flip-book whilst they are singing for him.
Of the painting above he said:
"This shows the kids up in the trees, which for many of them is the safest place to go during the floods. Gathering some food rations to keep them going and climbing up, staying there for as long as they can."
The rickshaw is the most common form of transportation. This depicts one being cycled through the flood waters. It was painted on an envelope that was a bit ripped and makes it look like it has been dropped in a puddle.