On 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, en route from Schiphol Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board, both crew and passengers, were killed. Because the plane took off from Schiphol, many Dutch were among the victims, 193 to be precise, but also 43 Malaysians (including the 15 crew members), 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, 10 British, 4 Belgians, 4 Germans, 3 Philippines, 1 Canadian and 1 New Zealander. July 23, 2014 was a day of National Mourning in the Netherlands. On 10 November 2014, the National Commemoration took place in the RAI in Amsterdam. After that there is a more private memorial service for relatives and those involved each year. Three years after the plane crash, Monday 17 July 2017, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima unveiled the National Monument in Vijfhuizen; a forest of 298 trees in the shape of a commemorative ribbon with one tree for each victim.
N.B. The official list of Malaysia Airlines has been used to list all names and nationalities.
In this work I have wanted to express my horror at this event which I believe marks a turning point in relations between East and West. Not for the better I’m afraid. The image of makeshift markings (in the shape of a branch with white cloth or plastic bag tied to it) in a huge wheat field is still etched in my memory. To me, this image symbolizes the futility of this attack. I have depicted the desolate plain of the wheat field in war colours. The result of a war, but hopefully not with a another war as a result. The bodies of loved ones were scattered everywhere and due to the war situation it was impossible for a long time to store them properly. Horrible. 298 lives that should not be forgotten. I have incorporated them all in this painting with initials, passenger number and country code (see the detailed photo).