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Farewell to Tawfiq Salsaa

By : Garth Hewitt

Tawfiq Salsaa, master carver of wood from Beit Sahour, Bethlehem, Palestine passed away on Friday 10th August from lung cancer.
Amos Trust knew him very well because he was the father of Wisam, our regular tour guide in the Holy Land.
A few hours before Tawfiq died his third grandchild, Daniel, was born to Wisam and Rasha.
Amos groups were regularly hosted at the home of Tawfiq and Ayda, which was always a highlight. These visits always included a look round Tawfiq's workshop.
In 2007 Tawfiq carved the walled nativity, which had the separation wall dividing the wise men from the Holy Family. He said that he was inspired to produce his first model with a political meaning after half a century of carving: "I was thinking about our problems and I thought if Jesus was to come

here today he would find a wall, then I started working on it - that's how it came to express our situation."
When under curfew in Beit Sahour Tawfiq, cut off from Jerusalem - which he had not visited for many years - carved a model of the Old City of Jerusalem from memory. Later this remarkable model was seen by Banksy who added some pieces to it and it then appeared in his exhibition at Bristol Museum in 2009.
It was described as "the final gem of the exhibition". Tawfiq and the family were present at the opening of the exhibition in Bristol and it was a very proud moment.
For many years Amos Trust had been distributing the olive wood at Christmas time carved by Tawfiq and his small band of workers. We also distributed the wooden hand crosses he made, which together with the walled nativity were regularly available at the Greenbelt Festival.
Our prayers and thoughts are with Tawfiq's wife, Ayda, with Wisam, his brothers and all the family and especially for Rasha and Wisam with their new baby Daniel and for sisters Leah and Sara - it is a time for very mixed emotions for the family.
Garth says, 'It was a special friendship with Tawfiq - we didn't speak each other's languages but we often sat in comfortable silence together enjoying each other's company. He was a man who saw so much in his life as gradually they were cut off more and more in the Beit Sahour and Bethlehem area by occupation and then by the wall. I am grateful to Wisam who invited us to meet his family and spend time with his father - a warm, gentle, creative man rooted in the land of Palestine.
An article in the Independent about Tawfiq at the time of the release of the Walled Nativity and with news of Banksy adapting his carving of Jerusalem
And also a link to a talk that Garth Hewitt did at Greenbelt Festival 2008 called 'The strange but true story of Tawfiq Salsaa's walled Nativity' 


Banksy in Bristol Review

by Minuteman Press

For many years, Banksy (or Robin to friends) was the scourge of Bristol and in particular Bristol City Council. Banksy’s stencil artwork caused much debate, some Bristolians appreciated Banksy’s work and were eager for their properties to be adorned with a Banksy original, but other Bristol residents were less enthusiastic, and annoyed at the abuse of their property.

In 2009, Banksy gave Bristol an exhibition by way of a thank-you for his roots, ideas, beliefs, attitude and paint supplies.

Following a conformist queue, the Banksy exhibition visitor was faced first with a Glastonbury festival toilet cubicle reconstruction of Stonehenge. Every detail was meticulous. Entering the first hall of Bristol Museum, a torched ice-cream van appeared. The sights and sounds were remarkable, every sense was exploited.

A series of famous statues, including the Angel of the North and Michelangelo’s David, were shown with various twists. Further displays included a lion who had consumed his trainer and a Metropolitan Police officer getting nowhere fast on an automated rocking horse.

Moving to the second large hall, a display of ‘Unnatural History’ was revealed including grazing chicken nuggets, a Banksy swimming fish finger and Tweety Pie with an attitude. The experience was made all the more convincing by the effective use of light and sound.

The Bristol Museum temporary display gallery had been adorned with Banksy artworks, some old and some new… showing images as you would not expect.

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Art Barrier

A world-famous graffiti artist named Banksy has left his mark on Bethlehem, where tourists are flocking to buy his work at astronomical rates. Meanwhile the locals are trying to capitalize on the excitement.

Banksy's graffiti in Bethlehem. Taxi drivers offer tourists 'a tour
in the footsteps of the mysterious artist' for $100.

(Photos: Nir Kafri)

Mike Kanawati, the manager of The Three Arches souvenir and jewelry shop on Bethlehem's main street, sat in his office at the back of the large shop and stared at the pictures transmitted by the security cameras he has placed on the premises and at his store's entrance.

The customers were behaving in an exemplary manner, and the movement in the street outside flowed with soporific slowness, but on the other side of the street, a man who was "neither tall nor short, neither fat nor thin, just ordinary," was attaching a large plastic stencil to the wall of the building that belongs to Kanawati's family; he took out a can of black spray paint and began spraying.

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Tawfiq Salsa's work in new Banksy show

Tawfiq Salsa is a Palestinian artist and craftsman from Beit Sahour, Bethlehem who works carving olivewood, some of which we sell here at Amos.

In 2007 as an act of quiet resistance, he made a ‘walled nativity set’ - a nativity scene where the wall stopped the wise men from getting through to the Holy Family. Tawfiq said “I made these sets as a protest at what is happening to the local community of Bethlehem and Beit Sahour”.

Beit Sahour (the Shepherds Fields) - is in the Bethlehem area, where 87% of the land has been taken by the Israelis. They are surrounded by the wall and their freedom of movement is denied.

Now another work of his comes into the limelight. Tawfiq was under curfew by the Israeli army for six months of 2002. During this time he put his skill to good use and built a model of the Old City of Jerusalem. He made his olive wood Jerusalem completely from memory. It reflected his quiet resistance to occupation and curfew and to the brutal oppression of his people. This remarkable achievement filled one of the rooms of his house and for some years he was uncertain what to do with it.

However this work it came to the attention of graffiti artist Banksy, who saw the beauty and strength of this model of Jerusalem. The model is now it is in Banksy's new exhibition in Bristol, Banksy v the Bristol Museum. Banksy has added watchtowers and soldiers to the original model

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