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Encircling Earth with Hope

View the source of this article at http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/jun42005/index.asp

Deccan Herald Metro Life Section
Saturday June 4, 2005
Bangalore, India
Article by Dipti Nair

Photograph by Diane Gayer

Sally Linder, a US artist, brings hope and message of peace to the City on World Environment Day through her Ark of Hope, a refuge for the Earth Charter.

It is called the Ark of Hope and was ironically unveiled in Vermont, US, two days before the 9/11 bombing. The creator Sally Linder, a contemporary American visual artist, says she realised it then how important it was to take her art to people across the world to spread the message of peace.

The Ark of Hope, a 49" x 32" x 32" wooden chest with intricate paintings of symbols from across the world, was created as a place of refuge for the Earth Charter document, an international people’s treaty for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century.

Sally’s immediate and spontaneous response to the 9/11 horror was to begin walking the Ark of Hope to New York and the United Nations. Hundreds of walkers joined the “pilgrimage” bringing with them hope and the vision of the Earth Charter to communities along the way.

In 1987, the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development had issued a call for creation of a new charter that would set forth fundamental principles for sustainable development.

The drafting of an Earth Charter was part of the unfinished business of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The final version was approved in 2000 at the UNESCO headquarters, Paris.

Messenger of Peace

Says Sally, “As an artist, I felt I had to spell out the words of the charter visually.” The result is an exquisite piece of art in the form of a chest, which interestingly travels around the world collecting “letters” (called Temenos Books) of peace, prayers, healing and gratitude. To date, it has collected about 10,000 messages from people across the world. Sally, who is in Bangalore as a speaker at the International Women’s Conference organised by the International Association for Human Values, is disappointed that she could not bring the Ark of Hope to India.

“Customs hassles was a huge contributor,” she says, adding that it is now in Netherlands - a region which will be most affected by the ever warming of the globe. When not travelling, the Ark is exhibited at the Interfaith Centre in New York.

Over 600 handcrafted 8" x 8" x 2" books have been made by artists, schoolchildren and citizens around the world to hold messages expressing their individual and collaborative prayers and affirmations for the earth.

Earth’s Charter

Adds Sally, who is in India for the first time, “The Earth Charter’s 16 principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society are the guiding vision behind the creation of these books.”

The Ark, crafted from a single plank of sycamore maple from a sustainable forest in Germany, has five painted panels that form the sides and top of the Ark each representing the flora and fauna of the world as seen through the images of the world’s traditional artists.

Each panel visualises a season, a direction, an element and a universal symbol. Symbols of faith from traditional religions and indigenous societies surround the top panel of ‘Spirit’ that honours the children and young animals of the world. The 96" carrying poles are unicorn horns which render evil ineffective.

Inside the Ark’s lid is the Earth Charter handwritten on papyrus paper.

“At the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Ark was ceremoniously offered to the world by 22 Black S. African children of Diepsloot, a squatters settlement in Johannesburg,” says Sally, illustrating her vision of one earth. “Its (the Ark) life grows when it is shared,” she adds.

Published: Friday, December 02, 2005.
Story By: Dipti Nair
copyright © 2001 - 2009 Ark of Hope