Posted on August 2, 2014
A new home, we are here, almost – yet still caged and treated like a problem to be dealt with. Some invisible process continues, digging for a reason to send us back. If they dig deep enough, I’m afraid they might reach my heart, and damage all that is left of me. I came with only the heart to start again. I will offer it to them in place of identity papers with my lineage scribbled in a spiral to the core. Unpinning the paper heart, I shall then let it float on the breeze before snagging on barbed wire. Animals are kept in pens, to stop them escaping and sheep behind fences to stop them demolishing the garden. If I could speak words with wings, they would also be ripped by the sharp edges, then plummet no further than the rocks and white breakers surrounding the Island. “Will you tell me what is wrong” – he breathed – conscious of the physical process in doing so. The voice seemed distant, though he longed to embrace it, to drown in it rather than be left. Is it true that some have sown their lips together?
“If you lived in a country governed by a tyrannical regime, and your parents had been killed, and family members had been brutalised and put in prison without trial or in some cases shot without trial, what would you then do? You could not go to the government and ask for papers. That would immediately get you into trouble. So people travel without papers, something recognised in the 1954 Refugee Convention, to which Australia was one of the first signatories.
With regard to Australian policy on Nauru and on Manus Island, ask yourself this: are we prepared to allow our government to establish a regime so brutal that the terror it creates would rival the terror from which people flee?”
Posted on August 2, 2014
Posted on July 26, 2014
The United Nations guidelines on the detention of asylum seekers make it clear that children, protected by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, should not be placed in detention for any length of time. The experience of detention may mimic the experience of human rights abuses, persecution and terror. Detention is highly traumatising for children who are less able to understand explanations as to the reason they have been detained.
Posted on July 11, 2014
Night after night, absorbing the news, one politician proclaiming indignation over the oppositions antics, watching the latest “move to the right” over asylum seeker policy, and feeling exasperated that my sense of social justice is again being offended by the elected governments rhetoric and fervent desire to punish people arriving by boat in the name of boarder security. I don’t want to be someone remonstrating on the couch. I don’t know what it is like to be a refugee. I’ve never had to flee for my life, to leave my homeland and all that I hold dear. I can read stories, and I can reflect on the divergent arguments that pervade our media. What good is art in the face of such human suffering? I quote here from a passionate defence mounted by my wife Catherine Jean-Krista in the face of such criticism –
“That sublime, profound transcendental thing…. or that great, satirical, biting and devastatingly insightful portrayal….. or that beautiful, aesthetically pleasing, emotion-inducing or soothing vision…. or that all encompassing installation style experience which places you in another’s shoes…. that culturally resonant, tradition-invoking form…. or that empathic link created through the sudden illumination of another perspective…. that temporal and ephemeral created moment…. or that eternally resonant phrase… or that medium that communicates across language barriers…. Art.”
Posted on June 11, 2014
“Boat People” 2013 Spray Enamel and Gouache on paper 46 x 60 cm
An image from my Boat People series which has been selected as a finalist in this years Cliftons Art Prize for the Canberra region. These pictures are derived from images and attitudes in the Australian media on the topic of Boat People. I am interested in the general public discourse surrounding the treatment and processing of asylum seekers and seek to elucidate a deeper appreciation for the sacrifice, hope and misery of the refugee. I work with a variety of traditional mediums, ranging from acrylic, oil and gouache to stencils and pasted-up street art.
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