Artistic community swoops in to help Syrian refugees

For a few moments every day, Paul McNamara stands at his window and watches crows flock to his yard.

A birdhouse

For a few moments every day, Paul McNamara stands at his window and watches crows flock to his yard.

McNamara, a 68-year-old artist, has a suet outside his window for smaller birds, however, he constantly sees crows trying to reach the food.

“They seem to be one of the more intelligent birds,” he said.

“It’s amazing what the crows will do to get to the suet. They’ll literally stand on their heads. One will hold it upside down and they co-operate to get what they want.”

Crows have become the inspiration behind McNamara’s latest piece of artwork — a birdhouse — that will be auctioned off at There’s No Place Like Home, a fundraiser to help six privately-sponsored Syrian refugee families living in Victoria.

McNamara has participated in auctions for other causes and tries to connect the work of art to the auction.

With his birdhouse, McNamara wanted to create a sense of compassion towards refugees. On one panel, McNamara used acrylic to paint a crow in distress. On the next panel, another crow comes in to the rescue to console the other crow.

“We’ve all been exposed to these images about the Syrian refugee crisis and probably all Canadians have thought ‘what would that be like for me if I had no home and no country’,” he said.

“It’s the nature of human beings, and other entities, to support one another. Doing this birdhouse is an opportunity for me to use one of my skills to raise money for those who are now our neighbours.”

The fundraiser is a joint effort between six Anglican parishes — St. George’s, Christ Church Cathedral, St. John the Divine, St. Dustan in Gordon Head, St. Barnabas, and St. Mary the Virgin — and includes 145 birdhouses painted by local artists to be auctioned off at the event.

Some birdhouses have been painted by artists, and students from St. Michael’s University School, Glenlyon Norfolk and Camosun College, while other birdhouses have been created from glass, seaweed, bamboo and ceramics.

Ginny Glover said they chose birdhouses to help launch Victorians into spring.

“It’s just really a celebration of all of the outpouring of support from the artistic community as well as the greater community in Victoria and how amazing everyone has been at donating their time and energy to Syrian families coming in,” Glover said.

Funds raised will go towards the cost of accommodation for the families.

The fundraiser takes place on Tuesday, March 29 at 7 p.m. at the Inn at Laurel Point.

Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at the door, at the six parishes involved or online at birdhousesforrefugees.brownpapertickets.com.