The Boat

"The Boat" 2014 Acrylic and enamel on board 98 x 138 cm

“The Boat” 2014 Acrylic and enamel on board 98 x 138 cm

The image of the boat has been a recurring theme in my painting for two years. Imagining the claustrophobic hull – the hell of uncertainty. I worked night shift earlier in the year with a young man who made such a journey in 2001. Although only 8 years old at the time, he vividly described three nights jammed in with asylum seekers from a variety of countries, sharing the same goal and the same fear in the wilderness of hours huddled together clutching make shift weapons. They had no idea where they were headed, but for Jamil, fleeing recruitment by the Taliban in Afghanistan, anywhere was a better option than the home he had known. For his parents returning to the motherland remains desirable if not attainable as yet, but not for Jamil, having grown up in Australia, he is now an Aussie, studying medical science at uni, contemplating a gap year, and working shifts to top up the coffers. The idea of returning to Afghanistan now seems foreign, although he wears his ‘boat person’ badge with honor and a wry smile.

"Boat" 201440 x 60 cm enamel on paper

“Boat” 201440 x 60 cm enamel on paper

"Boat" Acrylic on board 60 x 80 cm 2014

“Boat” Acrylic on board 60 x 80 cm 2014

"Voyage" 2013 spray enamel and gouache on paper 100 x 192cm

“Voyage” 2013 spray enamel and gouache on paper 100 x 192cm

"Seeking Asylum"  (bus stop paste-up) Stencil August 2013

“Seeking Asylum” (bus stop paste-up) Stencil August 2013

"Boat" 2013

“Boat” 2013 100 x 192 cm

'Voyage No.2" 2013 spray enamel & gouache on paper 50 x 64 cm

‘Voyage No.2″ 2013 spray enamel & gouache on paper 50 x 64 cm

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I Still Call Australia Home

 

"I Still Call Australia Home" (bus stop paste-up) acrylic on paper February 2013

“I Still Call Australia Home” (bus stop paste-up) acrylic on paper 

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?”

Recent work on paper.

Recent work on paper.

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