A unique exhibition demonstrating
friendship, understanding and tolerance
through the language of art
The ‘Women and their Olive Trees’ exhibition was inspired by the understanding and commitment of 35 Israeli women from all cultural and religious backgrounds: Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Circassian, reflecting the diversity within Israeli society. The chosen theme was the olive tree and through their passion, the artists created an environment of tolerance, friendship and sharing.
The paintings have travelled throughout Europe and been seen at significant locations and venues including Cathedrals and public spaces, the European Parliament and the United Nations. This year, the exhibition continued on a regional tour throughout the UK, displayed everywhere from the Houses of Parliament and Scottish Parliament to Leeds, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Manchester.
The exhibition has it’s roots in the WIZO Community Centre in Afula, Israel. Whilst exploring the interests and ambitions of the local community, the Director discovered that many of the women wanted to paint. As a result, the Centre brought together 35 women aged 17-80, from Lithuania, Umm al-Fahad, Tiberias, Romania, Nazareth, Isfaahan, Argentina and the Caucasian mountains and started an art class. As friendship between the artists developed they felt they wanted to paint something of mutual significance and chose The Olive Tree.
Iman Mokatren (second from right), whose painting ‘My family’ is pictured above, said of the project: “I joined the Olive Tree group because of the common spirit and soul I believe all we women artists share. The olive tree has been a symbol of peace, health and happiness since the time Noah’s dove carried an olive branch in her beak. In the holy Koran, it is said that figs and olives are good and soothing … Traditionally we are at our happiest when we harvest the olives. Now we also find that meeting to paint together is for all of us a great moment of happiness.”
The artists continue to work together to develop their painting skills and grow their friendships, sharing with friends, family, and other communities, both in Israel and internationally, their very special experience of Unity in Diversity through their mutual love of art and the discovery of how much they have in common.
The WIZO Community Centre in Afula was founded in 1986 in an economically disadvantaged neighbourhood with a large immigrant population. The Centre provides services to all communities in and around the region.