Now in it's third year, Heartlands Refugee Fine Art Prize Exhibition was presented by AMES and Multicultural Arts Victoria in partnership with VicHealth, Parks Victoria and the Sidney Myer Fund.
The exhibition showcases 42 shortlisted entries, including all the winning artworks, at fortyfivedownstairs in Flinders Lane from 6-16 June 2012.
A selection of pieces will then be exhibitied at the Walker Street Gallery in the City of Greater Dandenong, from July 6 - 28 2012, as part of the Emerge Festival.
A total prize pool of $15,000 was shared by three primary prize-winners, a new arrival prize, a youth prize and seven honourable mentions. First prize is $5000 plus a solo exhibition at a venue provided by Parks Victoria.
The major prize winners were as follows:
Minela Krupic (Bosnia & Herzegovina), Kolekcija, Etching, 200x200cm
"This series of etchings and digital prints focuses on the experiences and changes of Minela’s migration to Australia from war-torn Bosnia. Minela explores themes of people whose childhoods have been marked by the war, refugee experience and exile and looks for a path that may lead to peace, forgiveness and reconciliation."
Minh Pham (Vietnam), Brimanger Diptych, Oil on plastic card and canvas, A:42x32cm, B: 42x52cm
"This work is about self–portrayal and identity. It is also about the Vietnamese Diaspora that followed the Fall of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) on April 30th of 1975. It is about how significant events in history burden the individual with the personal impact. Minh and his brother were rescued from a small fishing boat in the south of the China Sea by a Norwegian oil tanker “Brimanger” and they were taken to Singapore where these photographs (upon which the work is based) were taken as documentation of their identities. The work was created in response to the demonization of the current refugees of the 21st century to remind the viewer that behind each label such as “boat person” or “illegal immigrant” there is a face, a family, a narrative. It hopes to remind Australia that many of these current nation builders were once refugees."
Sutueal Bekele (Ethiopia), Puzzling In:Puzzling Out, Oil on canvas, 120x80cm
"While the “puzzle” that is my composition denotes a regular game designed to test one’s ingenuity, the reality is it depicts a mindset. Where the rules are set not to question one’s definition of generosity, don’t ask questions such as Why? Because literally every problem already has its own solutions. Lest the entire structure crumble while the quality of life is better thus far, the internal trust remains tainted. The minute one fathoms what it feels like to have your head held under the water while trying to keep your children’s head afloat, and then one can begin to appreciate the tale of refugees."
Nasrullah Qannadian (Afghanistan), Australia Day, Glass engraving, 105x70cm
“Australia Day” represents Australia’s history with England. Princes Diana was a kind mother and beautiful person to people around the world. She was loving and generous to sick and poor people. Nasrullah wants her to be remembered for all her goodness and because her life ended too soon. In the image Diana has in her hands her son and daughter whom are her legacy. The ships on both sides represent the arrival of Capitan Cook to Australia and the settlement in a new land. This land belonged to the Aboriginal people and we must never forget this or their culture. Australia is a country that is established in a land with fair rules and good government and it gives hope and opportunity to refugees.The artwork also shows life under the sea, life on earth and life after death. We can all live in peace and do good things while we are on this earth. We all live under one sky and we all have one God who brought us into this world and we pray for him. “My art is black and white on mirror. We can see our reflection in the mirror so we know ourselves and our beauty and the value of living in Australia which gives everyone peace and safety and security. White means light in the early sunrise to start a new day and to look forward to the good things. Black means the night with its beautiful moon, stars and beauty.” Nasrullah says.
Ayel Akot (Sudan), The Past War in Sudan, Acrylic on canvas, 60x91cm
"This artwork is about what happened in Sudan in the past. Her painting represents what has happened in Sudan, the war and how people found their way to a different country and their journey to a new life. Ayel says “I think if refugees around the world see my artwork they would understand it because if you are a refugee there must be something that they are running away from such as war. In the first panel when the war started families were killed and kids were taken away to become young soldiers.”
Ma Nyunt Thachaw (Burma), A Free Country, Paper collage, 100x162cm
"Ma Nyunt collage shows flowers, birds and other animals of Australia. For Ma Nyunt in Australia people are protected, so are the birds and animals. The birds and animals are free and safe, and so are we. We are all free here."
Nickel Mundabi (Democratic Republic of Congo), United of Colours in Australia, Acrylic on canvas, 61x910cm
"United of Colours in Australia represents different cultures of refugees who have been relocated in Australia, such us African mask and harmony of colours in the new Heartlands."
Latief Askari (Afghanistan), Waiting, Paper collage, 40.6x30.5cm
"This collage is about Latief’s son’s dreams and feelings. When he left home to come to Australia his son was about three and a half years old and he never forget that time when he left him in Afghanistan. Now his son is dreaming to come to Australia and spend a good life without any tension. Latief son’s is now about five and half years old. The artist took especially this photograph of his friend’s daughter to show how his son is feeling."
Rubaba Haider (Afghanistan), Journey of Hope, Pen and ink on paper, 65x58cm
"Rubaba’s artwork is about the journey and paths that refugees take following their hopes and dreams. She used art patterns and native motifs of a particular country to create interest. There are also surprise elements in her drawing like small boats, which the audience can see on closer inspection. “The pathways for me to reach Australia started from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia and finally my heartland, which I have showed in my art.” Rubaba says
Zorba (Iraq), Prayer, Oil on canvas, 51x120cm
“Water equals life. We are water.” This painting expresses Zorba’s relationship with water and its preciousness. For him water is a strong force and it has a spiritual significance, ritual and hope. This is an image of a Muslim man washing his hands ritualistically before praying. The artist wishes to capture the significance and sacred respect of washing hands as a universal act. Zorba says: “It was important to paint this subject. It is very close to my country of birth where this was practiced peacefully but is no longer. I have chosen to express with as much detail as possible and I hope the viewer will see beyond the subject to a state of oneness. I cannot express this subject of dream in another way but to convey respect and humility.” As a refugee Zorba hopes for a state of peace individually and universally. He left war-torn Iraq for a country of heart and peace. He found this here in Australia."
Zaki Rasouli (Afghanistan), Poverty and Hunger, Drawing, 58.4x68.5cm
"This artwork is a picture of two weak and hungry boys sitting on the steps in need of a piece of bread."
Ibtihal Samarayi (Iraq), Requiem for three Sisters, Photography-mixed media, 100x75cm
"This image has a special meaning for both Australian and Iraqis as it concerns the plight of many of the world’s asylum seekers. The image of the three little girls drowning in the sea is a reference to the three little girls who lost their lives in October 2001 when the crowded refugee boat in which they were travelling sank in rough seas off Australia."