>> This battle-scarred building was an iconic hotel during Lebanon's golden age. Now the Grand Sofar is coming back to life thanks to an artist on a mission. British painter Tom Young studies the history of abandoned buildings in Lebanon, witnesses to the country's civil war. Then he creates paintings based on old photographs, architecture, and even people's memories.
Lebanon has no law to protect its historic buildings, and it's losing them at an alarming rate.>> Our memories and our history is what gives us our identity. And in Lebanon, that identity is under threat because of this destruction of both architecture and human memory. And so, in a way, my projects are about counteracting that process of, really, erasure of memory.
>> Young's paintings at the Grand Sofar depict events that happened there before the civil war broke out in 1975. Celebrities like Egyptian actor Omar Sharif would party there and Young found a photo of 80-year-old Samira Sayegh's wedding at the venue.>> Well, it was so emotional because I went back 52 years, back the day of my wedding.
So it was so emotional and I was at the same time very happy.>> Young, who has lived in Lebanon for nine years, has held exhibitions in other abandoned buildings, like this villa in Beirut. They're free of charge and include community events to stir public interest in their history.
>> These precious buildings, in many ways, are sleeping. And, in fact, what I'm trying to do with my arts and these projects is to wake them up.