2011 Heartlands Refugee Fine Art Prize Winners

The second year of the Heartlands Refugee Fine Art Prize Exhibition was presented by AMES and Multicultural Arts Victoria in partnership with VicHealth, Parks Victoria and South East Water.

The exhibition showcased 40 shortlisted entries, including all the winning artworks, at fortyfivedownstairs in Flinders Lane from 15-25 June 2011.

A total prize pool of $15,000 was shared by three primary prize-winners, a new arrival prize and eight honourable mentions. First prize was $5000 plus a solo exhibition at the Visitor Centre at Point Nepean National Park.

The major prize winners were as follows:

Three Countries, paper collage

AMES and Multicultural Arts Victoria Award

 Ma Late (Burma), Three Countries, Paper collage, Ink Print, 122 x 90cm

"My work is about Karen life in Burma, in Thailand and in Australia, and my hopes and dreams for these countries and for my people. I have surrounded these three countries with hope and love."

Star, 72cm Glass Plate

VicHealth Award

Nasrullah Qannadian (Afghanistan), Star, Glass, 72cm (diameter)

"Angelina Jolie. She is a famous and star person. She is also a beautiful lady who helps poor people. I hope people recognise my art and ability on glass work".

Pa dow by Se Vang, embroidery

South East Water Award

Se Vang (Laos), Pa Dow, Embroidery, 130 x 83cm

"Surviving the hard life and war to give children a better life. The theme of the exhibition means for me as being able to live and do things the way I want without limitations. Art creation is the way I can express myself in the traditional way."

Pin Cushion by Rubaba Haider, Gouche on Paper

Parks Victoria Newly Arrived Refugee Award

Rubaba Haider (Afghanistan), Pin Cushion, Gouche on paper, 24.5 x 31cm

"An invasive stomach surgery that my mother went through a few years back. It was then that I decided to express her emotions during these days and after the treatment, trough my art. I used fabrics, needles, stitches and different knots as metaphors for the actual wound and surgery. I painted memories from her past as references. It is the close-up of a pin cushion on which my mum stuck her needles on. The form on the fabric created through the needles were very similar to the surgical wound on her stomach, which was interesting for me to paint and create dialogue with the viewer, instead of painting a wound directly. Now in Australia, I have an opportunity and a better chance of looking after my mother and pursuing my career as an artist."

A moment shared by Sutuel Bekele, oil on canvas

Special Mention Award

Sutueal Bekele (Ethiopia), A moment shared, Oil on canvas, 168 x 112cm

"Here in present while in the rich colourful world, the opportunity to achieve something is never ending. We embrace our culture and custom while allowing others to be a part of it. We can easily hold each others hands for the similar ideas we believe in, support others to visualise their way of dreams and lights, fulfilling our own dreams by rasing our children with love and peace along with the culture we were brought up in. During all this, often we will climb on our dream horses and drift away towards those who are still heading to the mountains to be seen. Somehow our dreams and hope keeps floating in circles. We struggle to hold on to it, in fact it is always forcing its way toward ourselves."

The wall of hopes, by Alyana Eau, Fabric, cotton and paint

Special Mention Award

Alyana Eau (Iraq), The Wall of Hopes, Fabric, cotton and paint, 40 x 40cm

"An old wall I looked up at once when I was a little kid, it was during a family trip to Saint Mary’s Church at a nearby town in Iraq. Whilst visiting the place, I saw people from different age groups and genders standing next to a wall of that church, sliding small rocks on the wall, and making wishes. According to them, if the small rocks stay on the wall, the wish is granted. I too slid the rocks on the wall and strangely enough, some rocks stayed.
The moment with the wall in the church lived with me ever since as I strongly felt the connection, the power of human being…Through my work I have expressed the wall and the interlocking of people.To Australia, I brought with me ‘the wall’ I once looked at, the realisation I had whilst dreaming…and this is why I am now sharing it equally with all."

Displaced by Minela Krupic, Aquatint drypoint etching

Special Mention Award

Minela Krupic (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Displaced, Aquatint drypoint etching, 55 x 66cm

"Displacement, exile, feeling confused about one’s own identity and belonging. Trying to find one’s home. Arriving to an unknown place, lost at first, then found, but still searching."

The Unforgetable by Elvis Lopez, acrylics on paper

Special Mention Award

Elvis Lopez (El Salvador), The Unforgetable, Acrylics on paper, 30 x 30cm

"What I left behind as a boy, images that I witnessed and that I need to express and finally let go the suffering and fear of what human kind is capable of doing."

Sunshine by Sayed Murtaza Mosawi, oil panting

Special Mention Award

Sayed Murtaza Mosawi (Afghanistan), Sunshine, Oil painting, 45 x 90xm

"This artwork is about hope, just stay to survive that stormy and heavy rain full night (Difficulties). You will find morning a peaceful and shiny day."

Printed Matter by Hoang Tran Nguyen, mixed media, cotton t-shirt, coat hanger

Special Mention Award

Hoang Tran Nguyen (Vietnam), Printed Matter, mixed media, cotton t-shirt, coat hanger, variable.

"For me, the idea of Heartlands is central to the political and cultural crisis of refugees in Australia; displaced people trying to enter a land yet to properly deal with it’s colonial past. The public’s reception and perception of refugees has been hijacked by a media cycle that focuses on xenophobia and supposed illegality, repressing the actual plight of refugees and allowing misplaced fear to circumvent any productive dialogue. The image on the t-shirt is a photograph taken in 2007 of a texta-graffiti found on a park bench. What hope for the aspirations of someone forced to flee their homeland when such sentiment persists. T-shirts are a popular form of political expression. I wanted to see what happens to this graffiti when it is photographed and printed on a t-shirt; what happens to its power?"

Waterlilies by Ali Tawfek, acrylic on canvas

Special Mention Award

Ali Tawfek (Iraq), Waterlilies, Acrylic on canvas, 145 x 53cm

"The entanglements of my life. The water is reflective but chaotic at the same time. However the lilies symbolise hope + dreams + the move beautiful side to life."

Always look on the bright side of life by Q.C. Trieu, acrylic on canvas

Special Mention Award

Q.C. Trieu (Vietnam), Always look on the bright side of life, Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 102cm

"Looking on the bright side of life no matter what we are faced with. The boat journey of refugee is often a treacherous one, but they are intent on pursuing this path because they can only foresee a positive, bright future. Unfortunately, many lives often end up as fragments of the sea."