Image: Supplied

New national art prize for refugees and asylum seekers calls for submissions

The City of Greater Dandenong in Victoria has launched a new national art prize for artists with an asylum seeker or refugee background. Home and Art provides an opportunity to celebrate their important contribution to Australia’s cultural and social fabric.

Home and Art has been created to recognise artists from asylum seeker and refugee backgrounds who may have had to put their artist identity aside as they establish themselves in their new country.

The artworks can be produced in any media including painting, printmaking, sculpture, textiles, video, photography or drawing. The content may tell the story of the artist’s personal journey or reflect long-standing artistic traditions or values. 

Home and Art will include an exhibition at Walker Street Gallery, Dandenong in July 2016 featuring artists selected from the national call for submissions. Applications close on 14 March 2016, and will require a correctly completed application form and an image of the work.

First Prize is $3,000; a second cash prize of $500 will be awarded to an artist living in the City of Greater Dandenong. There is an additional prize of an Artist in Residency studio space in Dandenong for three months.   

The prize both recognises and nurtures the talents of these newly-arrived artists, encouraging them to pursue their talent and providing opportunities to develop professional pathways to working in the creative sector in Australia.

Image: Supplied

Image: Supplied

The City of Greater Dandenong is home to Victoria’s largest and Australia’s second largest multicultural community including a high percentage of refugees and asylum seekers. 

Mayor of the City of Greater Dandenong, Cr Heang Tak, migrated to Australia from Cambodia as part of a humanitarian program as a teenager. “Our City is a ‘Welcome Zone’ for refugees and asylum seekers and we are committed to initiating programs and projects to support their communities and inspire other cities around the nation to follow our lead,” he said.

“The Home and Art Prize and exhibition provide a fantastic opportunity for refugees and asylum seekers from all parts of the world to express themselves at the same time it creates an opportunity for the community to understand more about the lives of these people prior to and following their arrival in Australia.”

“As a migrant myself I remember at the age of 15 entering this new world. I will never forget the first words said to me at the airport, ‘Hello, how are you?’, they welcomed a migrant like myself to Australia. It is very important for us to welcome new people to our country, Home and Art is another way of doing just that.” 

Home and Art Ambassador, artist Kosar Majani, a former resident of the City of Greater Dandenong arrived in Australia from Iran in 2001 at the age of 18.

“Being an artist is something in you and comes from your heart. Although I am not a refugee, for me art was the only way of expressing myself and taking my mind off the pain of the separation from my family and my culture,” she said.

“I hope that Home and Art inspires other artists from refugee or asylum seeker backgrounds in the City of Greater Dandenong and around the country to submit their work, allowing them to express their feelings and us to share their unique artistic interpretations and talent,” Kosar Majani said. 

The prize is open to artists that arrived as a refugee or sought asylum in Australia after 1 January 2000.

Eligible entrants can also apply for assistance to enable them to realise their artwork and freight it to the gallery if chosen for the exhibition. For more information and entry forms phone Walker Street Gallery on (03) 9706 8441 or go to http://www.greaterdandenong.com/document/7138/walker-st-gallery-competitions

Home and Art is generously sponsored by AMES Australia.

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