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Humanitarian Crisis Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Inner West refugee art exhibition opens for World Day of Social Justice

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The Community Refugee Welcome Centre in Callan Park, Lilyfield, will celebrate World Day of Social Justice, Sunday, February 20, by opening “Through Our Lens”, a multimedia group exhibition inspired by the history and natural beauty of Callan Park.

Artists from refugee and migrant backgrounds have created original works using photography, video, calligraphy, mixed media, collage, painting, vitrail and ceramics for an exhibition February 19-27, 2022, in Lilyfield.

With the theme “Callan Park”, the exhibition features 19 emerging and established artists who bring elements from their culture to the art, creating and expressing their connection to the community centre’s local area.

Centre Coordinator Moones Mansoubi said, “The exhibition stems from a series of virtual and face-to-face workshops that were offered to refugee artists during the pandemic where they were given a tour of Callan Park by a local.

“The artists that keep coming to the centre wanted to reflect their feelings and explore Callan Park through their own lens and create connections with the space through art.”

The project is supported and funded through the Inner West Council Arts Grant, which aims to increase community connection through art in the public domain, providing a range of access points for the community to participate in and enjoy arts and culture.

Refugee and Iranian multidisciplinary painter Feryal Zadeh, who will showcase her works at the exhibition, arrived in Australia in 2018 and has been supported by Settlement Services International (SSI) and the centre through its innovative artist development programs.

Zadeh, an artist with over 100 completed artworks and 15 exhibitions in Iran, works across various painting styles and mediums, including miniature painting, to which she was introduced in 1989 as a student at the University of Tehran.

“Miniature painting is a mystical art that brings peace to my mind, and watercolour brings me much joy,” Zadeh said.

“My works at this exhibition use symbolism such as the Waratah flower, found in Callan Park and throughout NSW, but also applying my own cultural lens through Persian miniature art.”

Zadeh said that the workshops held in the centre with the other artists were beneficial for friendships, skill-sharing and collaboration.

“The workshops were great in helping share ideas and giving feedback to each other.

“The tour through Callan Park and its buildings triggered nostalgia, as I used to play around empty buildings during my childhood back in Iran and, at the same time, the centre’s windows and the building itself remind me of Persian architecture.”

Exhibition curator Damon Amb said the workshops and exhibition provided a professional development opportunity for artists who actively participated in the creative process of production and who demonstrated their remarkable skills and talents.

“Each featured artwork reflects a distinctive insight from the artists and the underlying theme, Callan Park,” Amb said.

“The diversity of the artworks adds another layer to the exhibition’s uniqueness.”

The Community Refugee Welcome Centre has been operating since March 2017, and was established as a partnership between SSI, Inner West Council and the Catholic Diocese of Sydney. More recently, TAFE NSW, and Inner West local organisations have also partnered and contributed significantly to its programs.

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