The Children of Portsaid 1956/2013


After having discovered a series of children’s paintings depicting war scenes from 1956, RAWI invited Port Said's children once more to express themselves through art and tell us about their lives over the two years following the revolution of 25 January.

In our previous issue we featured the story of Mohamed Labib and Seddika Hassanein (both art teachers), who in 1956 packed their supplies and left for Port Said immediately after the brutal Tripartite Aggression had ended. They gathered a group of boys and girls and held an art workshop for therapy. The resulting paintings were nothing short of incredible. The exhibition travelled the world and was a major success.

Article Piece
Article Gallery

In 2013, RAWI magazine, along with the couple’s son Tarek Labib, invited Port Said’s children once more to express themselves through art and tell us about their lives over the past two years. We worked in tandem with a local gallery, Ganna, and made a call for the children to submit drawings inspired from their lives in the past three years.

Four months after the announcement, the paintings the children submitted to us documented events from the football game massacre and the subsequent shootings at the funerals to images from daily life such as the queues for bread and the petrol crisis. The artworks chronicled three turbulent years in Egypt through the eyes of children who live in the city that has possibly suffered the most.

A celebration accompanied an exhibition held in Port Said in September 2013 which the children and parents greatly enjoyed. The exhibition presented a historical record of two tumultuous periods from Egyptian history, chronicled without the stifled analysis of academia or the sensationalism of media. We saw a straight-from-the-heart expression from children who had just lived through the events in each and every one of these paintings.



The only 1956 participant we found was Hoda el-Bani, shown here in 1957 presenting her painting to then-education minister Kamel El Din Hussein. She grew up to become an art teacher and still keeps the little colouring box given to her as a gift by Seddika Hassanein in 1957. El-Bani’s granddaughters took part in the 2013 art competition organized by RAWI.


The participants of the 2013 art competition at the launch event where the 1956 paintings were exhibited alongside the 2013 children’s paintings at the Port Said general library.