SSI News Blog

A Persian artist and painter who is seeking asylum in Australia will be facilitating a series of creative workshops for newly arrived artists in the lead up to the SSI New Beginnings Festival for Refugee Week 2018, staged at the Refugee Welcome Centre, Lilyfield.

 Atefeh Hekmat artist and workshop facilitator for New Beginnings Festival Refugee Week captured at Lilyfield Community and Refugee Welcome Centre.

Atefeh Hekmat artist and workshop facilitator for New Beginnings Festival Refugee Week 2018 captured at Lilyfield Community and Refugee Welcome Centre.

In her native country of Iran, Atefeh Hekmat was a thriving assistant artist with over 20 years of experience working in the field. After opening her own art gallery, Ms Hekmat curated several exhibitions with the support of art teachers and friends.

Ms Hekmat was invited to work with Tehran Municipality, a job offer that she was not able to take as she had to leave Iran and come to Australia to seek asylum. She has since put her work on display at the SSI Art is Our Voice exhibition and a number of community and women-focused events.

“I appreciate that SSI gave me this opportunity, as when I have an exhibition, I improve my feeling. SSI gave me more confidence to express myself to people around me.” Ms Hekmat said.

The series of creative workshops that Ms Hekmat will be facilitating for newly arrived artists will feed directly into an exhibition that will be curated by Ms Hekmat and two other leading artists, Damon AMB and Majid Roberts.

SSI Arts and Culture Manager Carolina Triana foresees the exhibition to be an example of the successful collaboration between artists from refugee backgrounds who have been in Australia for a number of years and those artists who have recently arrived to Australian shores.

“The exhibition project is being artistically driven by Atefeh, Damon and Majid, from workshop facilitation all the way to the exhibition design and curation.” Ms Triana said.

Inner West Council General Manager Rik Hart said the Centre cements the place of the inner west in supporting people from around the world who have suffered unimaginable hardship.

“The Inner West community has a strong commitment to social justice,” he said.

“Council staff and community volunteers also developed a new mobile app to connect refugees to local support services and offers of help. I am honoured to that Inner West Council is a Refugee Welcome Zone.” said Mr Hart.

Reverend Peter Smith from the Justice and Peace Office of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, which contributed $60,000 towards staffing costs at the Centre, said the Office was very happy to be working with Inner West Council and Settlement Services International (SSI).

“We have always been of the opinion that welcoming refugees is the responsibility of all of Sydney, not just the Western suburbs,” he said.

“People of the Inner West have many gifts and talents that can enrich the lives of refugees.”

Ms Hekmat’s artistic practice centres on oil and acrylic painting on canvas. She has a great love of nature and her works reflect the changing moods of the landscape. Her artistic process represents her desire to connect with her inner journey as an artist.

Ms Hekmat is looking forward to facilitating the creative workshops for newly arrived artists and is equally grateful for the exhibition opportunity that it will bring to the fore.

“I have a good connection with SSI, they always encourage me to improve my ability and I am so thankful for the opportunity.” she said.

The exhibition will open during event times and by appointment during Refugee Week from June 20 – 30, 2018. The SSI New Beginnings Festival for Refugee Week has been supported by Inner West Council through Open Inner West 2018.

Stay in the loop by regularly visiting the New Beginnings Festival website.

There are a number of ways to get involved with this celebration of hope, unity and new beginnings. Click here for more information about sponsorship opportunities and becoming a festival partner.

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