George Sfougaras, newly elected member of Leicester Society of Artists, has won a prize in the Small Print International exhibition with his print Hope.
"The print 'Hope' was inspired by the exodus of refugees and the images of people sailing across the Mediterranean from Turkey to the Greek islands," says George Sfougaras. "The news was and is saturated with tragic images of little boats and uprooted people, desperately seeking a better life, despite leaving all they had and all that sustained them behind.
Early on the day when the original idea was conceived, I was walking to the Leicester Print Workshop studio through Victoria Park in Leicester. The trees had shed their last autumnal leaves and stood in a bitter breeze which bent and swayed their thin branches. They stoically faced their circumstances in the hope of a new spring and new life. Trees are beautiful entities and move me deeply. The image of the trees made me think of how hope survives and sustains us, even guides us, when we face insurmountable odds. I ran to the studio and made a simple little sketch so that I would not lose this moving image and idea.
The tree on the boat is a metaphor. The three components of the print, the boat, the tree and the sea are simple and universally understood, but their juxtaposition makes us look again and reflect. The tree symbolises a person who has been displaced or uprooted and through life changing events, forced to become a refugee. Anyone in that position cannot survive long without putting roots down somewhere. When they do, will they survive and thrive, create a meaningful life for themselves and their children and bear fruit?
"This small print - I could not stop making different subtly different versions of it, such as the lino print below - captured a moment in time and helped me to think through some momentous events happening in our life time."
George Sfougaras print 'Hope' can be seen in the Small Print International exhibition touring England this year.