Two exhibitions by refugee artists opening in Auburn this month — Fragments of Iran and ANA/MAN/MA — will showcase a range of diverse artworks that speak to the themes of resilience, humanity and dignity.
The exhibits, presented by the Peacock Gallery Auburn and supported by Settlement Services International (SSI), will run concurrently March 9–31, 2019, and will feature seven different artists, four of whom are female.
The partnership between the Peacock Gallery Auburn and SSI, now in its second year, acknowledges the need for artist representation and provides access to exhibition opportunities for artists from refugee backgrounds. For many of the artists involved it is their first curated exhibition in Australia.
Fragments of Iran is a solo exhibition presented by Mehrdad MehrAeen, a professional Iranian visual artist with over 17 years of artistic experience. His work draws on traditional Iranian forms of art, including Iranian poetry and “Tazhib” — the geometry found in traditional Iranian paintings.
“I am so excited for my first exhibition in Australia,” said Mr MehrAeen.
Mr MehrAeen arrived in Australia in 2013 and continued his artistic practice but, after finding himself homesick and alone, he began to explore these feelings through his artwork.
“Improvisation through the art-making process is the hallmark of traditional Iranian art; most of my art is made through the unconscious mind.”
ANA/MAN/MA — ME (Arabic) / ME (Farsi) / US (Farsi) — is a collective exhibition featuring the work of a diverse range of artists from Arabic, Iranian, and Ghanaian backgrounds, including experienced artist, graphic designer and teacher, Maher Al Khoury.
Mr Al Khoury arrived in Australia from Syria as a refugee in 2017. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1988, he had a dynamic arts career working across the Middle East as a university lecturer and artist. Mr Al Khoury was exhibited in his home country in Syria and Abu Dhabi at esteemed arts exhibitions; however, ANA/MAN/MA will be his first curated exhibition in Australia.
Young artist Emmanuel Asante arrived in Australia in 2015 from Ghana and started painting and drawing as a way to deal with depression.
“Art is my escape from reality,” Mr Asante said.
“I’m quite excited and looking forward to seeing new people and discussing these artworks and ideas.”
Mr Asante’s work has already been exhibited in numerous youth forums. In 2016 he received the Art for Planet Award from Campbelltown Council.
Exhibition dates: March 9 – 31, 2019
Gallery opening time: Tuesdays to Sundays, 11 am to 4 pm
Location: Peacock Gallery, located in Auburn Botanic Gardens, Corner of Chiswick and Chisholm Roads, Auburn NSW 2144
Settlement Services International is a community organisation and social business that supports newcomers and other Australians to achieve their full potential. We work with all people who have experienced vulnerability, including refugees, people seeking asylum and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, to build capacity and enable them to overcome inequality.
SSI self-funds arts and culture initiatives ranging from artist professional development projects to its flagship New Beginnings Festival, aiming to ensure that refugees and newly arrived migrants have equitable access to arts and culture programs and opportunities.