What started as a wet, gloomy Tuesday quickly turned into a warm and vibrant embrace of some of what makes Australia great: art, multiculturalism, and people.
Celebrating its second year, the Harmony Art Collective launched the talented artworks of 300 young Australians newly migrated to the country. Through the program, these 15-24 year old artists worked along side renowned Australian talents including stencil artist Luke Cornish (E.L.K), prolific illustrator Georgia Hill, urban cartoonist Jeremyville, and contemporary muralist Fintan Magee to find and express their identity through art. The collaborative project questioned what identity meant for and to each artist: from cultural pride, personal history, social integration to personality, race, and more.
What resulted from the reflective workshops that took place nation-wide was the power of creative expression and inclusion. Art, as the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said, is meant to make you feel or show you something perhaps you have never felt or seen before. It was clear these words rang true for the artists themselves and anyone, including me, who took a look at the 16 masterpieces.
To the dedication of the organisers and artists, the launch was a success. It all came together when 21-year-old artist and refugee Bella Ndayikeze rapped a song she wrote for her mother without any preparation. “You are my inspiration / You mean the world to me / And I love you unconditionally” she sang, as everyone in the room clapped and followed along. The joy her talent brought was a refreshing glimpse to the brightness that comes when people are celebrated, given opportunities, and heard. So much so that the rain cleared up.
It was only fitting that the exhibition opened just in time for Harmony Day (March 21st), the same date as the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Being non-Australian myself and a minority here, the artists, event, and works spoke volumes to the greater truth: Australia welcomes people from all walks. It is a place for everyone, where everyone not only belongs but is celebrated too.
The Harmony Art Collective exhibition will be open from March 13 to April 27, 2018 at the Darling Quarter. More info here: www.sbs.com.au/learn/harmonyart