Robert Cooper


Sore fingers – cold hands

Sore fingers – cold hands

Highly commended

2020
oil on canvas
51 x 102 cm

Artist statement

Date: Dec 10, 2010. Callsigns Alpha and Charlie are in overwatch, on top of a feature that the Americans call “Gun Slinger Hill” in the Karmisan Valley region. It’s early morning and I find myself on a large rock, looking down into the valley below. I spot an Afghan national. I shout out and give him a double hand-wave: he looks up and continues on his way. Forty minutes later, I was pleasantly surprised to see the same Afghan approaching our location. I went to him, smiled and searched him for weapons. He did not seem to mind. With a hand gesture he invited me to sit with him in the dirt and I did. He was 83 years old; he had a string of seeds and piercing eyes. We were able communicate through the interpreter. Firstly he asked if we were Russians, because of the fur hat I was wearing. At some stage, he mentioned working in the fields and how the cold hurt his hands. Straight away I went to my hesh bag and grabbed a brand new pair of gloves and gave them to him. In return he gave us sweets.