“We are talking about Syria and Australia. We say that we have all the same sky. Blue sky.” Issa
It all began whilst attending a Melbourne Arts Festival theatre piece called "The Money".
The event was almost entirely 'performed' by the audience.
The theatre troupe very officoiusly instructed us to sit in the council chambers and gave us the rules.
A mock parliamentary process, the audience were given the opportunity to decide how money is spent, then take that money to do the thing decided upon.
I offered to create an art project in which artists guide children at a primary school to make art to give to the newly arriving refugees from Syria, to put on their walls as a reminder that they are welcome here, in Eltham.
I won the money and was then obliged to do the work.
Artists Jess Lovell and Lisa Watson joined me in making it happen.
I then delivered the artwork.
Community was very supportive of the refugees being in Eltham. On the whole.
Yet there was opposition and Welcome to Eltham approached me earlier on, to help them find a creative way through the stress that came up as a result. Some of the opposition, which was mainly from folks from outside of Eltham, was quite aggressive and threatening. That meet up resulted in the butterfly as the image which would become a mainstay of hope and transformation.
So children wrapped sticks in wool, reflecting self-nurturing, and made ink drawings on yupo paper, reflecting new and random landscapes. Artworks were assembled incorporating these, butterflies and messages from the children.
When I dropped off the artworks, some of the residents expressed an interest in making artwork. So with the help of Nillumbik Council's Quick Response Grant, Jess and Lovell and I engaged the residents in art making over three workshops.
Catholic Care also invited us to exhibit artwork at their Celebration event, marking the end of the project, and the next phase in which many residents, those not old enough to qualify for aged care housing, moving to independent accomodation.
The workshops were thoroughly enjoyable. We were fortunate to have Issa, as our main comedian, translator and photographer. Ramez was another mainstay participant, who started off by weaving a bracelet for me and proceeded to demonstrate his skills in sculpting and drawing in many mediums including using old cans to make chairs.
... more on its way... this is a draft...