Artists for Kosovo
Two-thirds of the Kosovar refugees who fled the war in April (some 600,000 people) returned to their homeland. These people came back to find widespread destruction: over 500,000 houses were destroyed or seriously damaged; 40% of water sources contaminated by debris, animal and human remains and an estimated 1 million mines have been laid in Kosovo by the Serbian and KLA forces. Every individual experienced a personal loss and trauma, recovery from which will take years.
Discussing this situation one day in the pub with his manager Anne-Louise Kelly, Gavin felt it was time to do something about it. Anne-Louise got in touch with Irish relief organisation Concern who were running the ‘Concern for Kosovo’ appeal.
Three Wishes for Kosovo
Concern asked them to travel to Kosovo to shoot some footage which could be used to highlight the realities of the aftermath of war for the Kosovans. The 30 minute film, Three Wishes for Kosovo, which was produced out of this trip was screened on RTE (Irish television) on Friday, December 17th, 1999.
The Slide Projection Exhibition
As part of the ‘Concern for Kosovo’ appeal, “Artists for Kosovo” was a public art exhibition held in Meeting House Square, in Dublin. The exhibition ran from 27th July to 30th August 1999. The exhibition, which was conceived and inspired by Gavin Friday and curated by Aileen Corkery of Temple Bar Properties, aimed to create awareness, and stimulate reaction to the inhumane situation in Kosovo.
The slide show consisted of images by 34 artists plus work from the children of St. Audoen’s National School, Dublin. The artists themselves came from varying creative backgrounds: photography, graphic design, music, fine arts, architecture and it is from this vast diversity combined with the thoughts of children that gives the exhibition a unique strength and quality.
In addition to the visual projections, Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer composed a special piece of music to accompany the slides.
Múc the Flying Piggy bank
The second part of the exhibition was artist Laurent Mellet’s sculptural installation of Gavin’s vision of ‘Múc the Flying Pig. Múc was designed by artist Laurent Mellet. Standing 12ft high x 8ft long x 5ft wide, the creation of Múc was inspired by the phrase ‘if pigs could fly’ and is the symbol of hope and possibility for Kosovo. Múc enabled the public, but in particular children, who are excluded from the normal credit card appeals, to ‘feed the pig’ with donations towards the Kosovo Appeal.
With the help of the staff of AIB around the country, Concern and the National Primary Schools of Ireland, ‘Muc’ – the smelly pig toured the towns of Ireland in a blaze of publicity and fun to collect money like a piggy bank for the Kosovo appeal in Ireland.
Educational packs were sent to 4,000 primary schools throughout the country. Boys and girls were encouraged to set up their own collections.
“This is a completely different approach to raising funds for Kosovo”, said Gavin Friday. “The ‘Concern for Kosovo’ Appeal involves a multi programme featuring the unique and surreal flying pig ‘Muc’. The programme, in addition to generating significant funds, aims to educate and raise the awareness of the continued plight of refugees in general”.