Using Art to Take a Stand Against Human Trafficking
Tokai-based painter, Andrew Cooper donated one of his famed Tree of Life paintings to raise awareness for anti-human trafficking non-profit organisation, Stop Trafficking of People (STOP). The organisation promotes awareness about human trafficking, identifies and supports victims and tries to influence decision-makers in South Africa and Africa to make decisions that could result in the reduction of human trafficking, prostitution, pornography and sexual abuse.
Andrew, who is from Tokai, got involved with Stop through a friend, Sharon Worrall, who is also involved in the campaign. Andrew, 48 said he decided to get involved with Stop as he believes freedom and the right to life are “sacred gifts that no man or nation should be able to abuse or remove for personal gain”.
Andrew is a self-taught artist known for his large landscapes and seascapes whostarted painting professionally in 1987.
He was asked to create a painting, which will be sold in order to raise funds for Stop. The painting was displayed in Long Street as part of the First Thursdays event on March 3. The Tree of Life series symbolises a journey of discovery, he said, adding that he chose to paint the Tree of Life series for Stop because it symbolises the gift of life. “The waterfall and water represent the freedom to move anywhere, important aspects for Stop to attain,” he said. The painting has not been sold yet, and is now on display at Red the Gallery in Steenberg Shopping Centre.
”The Tree of Life series is rather mystical in nature and different from my other landscapes. It hints at a journey of discovery to find this ancient tree that could possibly hold some secrets or answers to life’s most essential questions.
“The path taken can often be challenging and full of hardships, but there are rewards along the way, an inner journey. And much like life this journey will ultimately take us to a place of wisdom and peace, to soothe the soul” he said.
Andrew has always felt strongly about human trafficking and said he felt there was not enough awareness of it. “Like so many tragedies in the world, not enough light is being shed on human trafficking in the news media. Economics and politics receive the attention instead and yet the irony is that poor economics in a country often pave the way for these inhumane acts.” Visit http:// www.stoptrafficking.org.za for more information and go to www.cooperart.co.za to view Andrew’s other work.
The above article, written by Jamie Petersen appeared in the Constantia Bulliten, 24th March 2016