Art exhibition by asylum seekers goes on show

For the first time, the Jesuit Refugee Service's annual art exhibition to mark World Refugee Day will go on public exhibition, in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, reports the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

For two and a half weeks at Waverley Library, paintings and pen and ink or charcoal drawings by 30 men, women, children and in a few cases, entire families will be on display and will give new and often heartrending insights into their individual stories.

Each of the artists whose work is on display in the JRS The View from Here Exhibition, is either a newly arrived refugee or an asylum seeker currently waiting assessment of their status as refugees and either living within the community on a bridging visa, or in community detention.

The artworks displayed have been created by men and women and children from such diverse countries as Nigeria, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Rwanda, Colombia, India and Fiji.  While each has a different story about what brought them to Australia, each one has plumbed their deepest emotions to create artworks that reveal their displacement, courage and above all hope for the future.

Many have fled persecution, brutal beatings and even torture. Others have fled homelands torn apart by conflict and many at risk to their own lives and those of their children, have boarded flimsy boats and made the perilous journey to Australia.

But instead of dwelling on the terror and desperation they have experienced, and the physical as well as emotional torment they have endured, their paintings are filled with hope. In one painting a gilded bird soars above the clouds into a brilliant star-filled sky. In another  the refugee meticulously paints an Australian passport and lays this above the Australian flag.

"The View from Here provided an opportunity for asylum seekers and refugees to tell their own stories in their own unique way," says Fr Aloysious Mowe, Director of JRS Australia. How the refugees and asylum seeker artists chose to interpret The View from Here was left entirely up to each artists to interpret the title of the exhibition in whichever way they chose.

FULL STORY Important exhibition of paintings by refugees and asylum seekers (C-Mail)

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