Being only 7 at the time I wasn’t able to comprehend the full extend of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. My memory of the event is hazy but I certainly remember hearing the word ‘Chernobyl’ and ‘radioactive’ for the first time. Amongst the reports on the television, concerns were raised that the radioactive plumes from the plant had blown across Europe and reached the United Kingdom making rain that would often fall on us in North Wales hazardous. My memory then fades, I recall further reports about Chernobyl in the news and I remember being taught what a power plant was and discovering that we had one 30 miles from us. Fast forward three or four years later something strange happened, the word ‘radioactive’ a word I had previously associated with danger seemed to be not so bad. Despite being frowned upon by the likes of ‘Captain Planet and the Planeteers’ radiation was capable of a wondrous thing, aside from providing us with electricity… radiation could also mutate things! Radioactive waste, distinguishable by its day glow qualities could both mutate a turtle into an anthropomorphic ninja and cause insects to increase in size! The line between grainy Public Information films and television shows like ‘Toxic Crusaders’ had become blurred. The reality of radiation and its devastating effects on people and the surrounding environment distorted.
The atomic movies of the 1950’s have always been a source of fascination to me I love them. Whether it’s a dinosaur buried for millions of years or a colony of ants just add ‘atomic’ to the plot and you have my undivided attention. The same can be said about my reading habits Gamma explosions, radioactive spiders and the righting of society’s wrongs adorn my shelves and bedside table. These tales share a common theme a moral about man’s dangerous pursuit for knowledge and venturing into God’s domain when dealing with atomic energy and then a ‘happy’ ending. In realty however this is not the case, far from it when dealing with radioactivity.
Something that the people of Chernobyl discovered at great cost, A mistake made in 1986 is still a very real problem in 2011. The recent events at the Fukushima power plant brought attention to Chernobyl yet many still do not know the depth of the Chernobyl disaster and charities and charitable organisations that make a difference to the lives of those suffering the ongoing effects.
Next week will be the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster and the Voices from Chornobyl site invited artists inspired by Chernobyl to share their art in a bid to help spread awareness of the 25th anniversary of the disaster.
I was inspired to paint, ‘The Cooling Pond’
The dominant feature of this painting is the catfish, which draws the eye. However, on further observation we can see that this natural setting is in fact in the shadow of the Chernobyl power plant, altering the perspective of the piece. The piece can be viewed at Kaldi Coffee in Atwater Village, Los Angeles.
For further information or to make a donation please visit the following sites
CHERNOBYL CHILDREN'S PROJECT (UK)
VOICES FROM CHORNOBYL
Images courtesy of VOICES FROM CHORNOBYL site and Cindy Marie Jenkins ‘The Cooling Pond’ and content © Arfon Jones 2011. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.