By Lobsang Tenchoe
DHARAMSALA, March 28: ‘Give a hand to free Tibet’, a project initiated by ART at WORK, a Germany-based international art initiative, marked its 20th anniversary with an interactive exhibition at the Martyrs Pillar located near the main gate of the Dalai Lama Temple here in McLeod Ganj.
‘Give a hand to free Tibet’ has returned to Dharamsala, the exile headquarters of the Tibetan Diaspora after twenty years. The first exhibition of the project took place at the courtyard of Tsug-lag-khang, the main temple in Mcleod Ganj in 1998.
“The project started as a world artist for Tibet, so that artists from all over the world can give an idea on how we can support the Tibetan people with art,” Annabelle Mayntz from ART at WORK said.
“People can participate from all over the world by drawing their hand, writing their name and country, and a message to the Tibetan people to show their solidarity for the people of Tibet,” Annabelle Mayntz added.
Until now, through the project, ART at WORK has collected over fifty thousand hands from 100 countries. The group has held an exhibition at the Tibetan / Indian border in Ladakh in June 1998.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has offered his handprints to the group when they held a presentation of 25,000 hand prints adorned with messages during the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit to Northern Germany in October 1998.
“It surprises us that they are still a lot of people who don’t know what is going on inside Tibet. So we try to raise awareness with arts,” Annabelle Mayntz said.
The group also hoists the Tibetan national flag at the city hall where they live during the Tibetan National Uprising Day on March 10 every year and raises awareness about the Tibetan issue. Like any activists championing the cause of Free Tibet, the group is barred from China but their project, ‘Give a hand to free Tibet’ will continue until Tibet is free.
The International Art Initiative was founded by Janis Somerville from Australia and Pip Cozens from Great Britain in Bielefeld, Germany in 1997 and today the group is led by Annabelle Mayntz from Germany and Pip Cozens, they are supported by an international team of helpers.