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Refugee artists to lead creative welcoming activities for Refugee Week festival

June 16, 2018 Events / Whats On No Comments Email Email

SSI New Beginnings Festival event The Spirit of Welcome will officially close the Open Inner West Festival 2018 at the Refugee Welcome Centre in Callan Park, Lilyfield, on June 24.

Marking Refugee Week 2018, The Spirit of Welcome is a full-day public program of activities led by newly arrived artists. The day will feature an art exhibition, an artist talk, live performances, screenings, creative workshops and multicultural food.

The Artist Talk will feature Safdar Ahmed, from the Refugee Art Project, hosting a panel discussion between leading artist facilitators Majid Rabet, Atefeh Hekmat and Damon Amb.

Goosebump-worthy performances from African Drum and Dance group Lucky Lartey, Persian folk-artist Mehrdad MehrAeen, and spoken-word poet Zeadala will move and inspire audiences.

The Art Exhibition will showcase works that have been created through a series of creative workshops facilitated by artists from refugee backgrounds for other newly arrived communities.

SSI Arts and Culture Manager Carolina Triana said the exhibition was an example of the successful collaboration between artists from refugee backgrounds who have been in Australia for some years and those newcomers who have recently arrived on Australian shores.

“The exhibition project is being artistically driven by artists from refugee backgrounds, from workshop facilitation all the way to the exhibition design and curation,” Ms Triana said.

Mr Rabet, an Iranian refugee, artist and engineer, has facilitated a series of creative workshops for newly arrived artists in the lead up to the festival.

Pairing technology with art, Mr Rabet uses innovation to help other artists to develop their art projects. He has created a hot wire machine from scrap material that makes laser cuts into styrofoam and has referred to this during the workshops.

Mr Rabet’s artistic practice began after arriving in Australia in 2010 and spending two years detained in immigration centres. He uses art as a form of therapy to overcome the trauma that he has suffered as a refugee.

Through the New Beginnings Festival, the SSI Arts and Culture program has given people like Mr Rabet the chance to connect with others through the universal medium of art.

“For people with trauma backgrounds, this allows them to express things that, in any language, sometimes words don’t exist to adequately express,” Mr Rabet said.

SSI Arts and Culture Producer Raphael Brasil had the pleasure of visiting the creative studio of Mr Rabet in Parramatta and was astonished by the innovative methodologies used to create art.

“Majid is a designer, an inventor, a technologist and, beyond everything else, an artist engaged with life,” Mr Brasil said.

The exhibition will open during event times and by appointment during Refugee Week from June 20 to 30, 2018.

The SSI New Beginnings Festival for Refugee Week, supported by Inner West Council through Open Inner West 2018, is part of the broader SSI New Beginnings Festival 2018, an initiative of Settlement Services International (SSI). For more information, click here.

The festival will continue later in the year with a one-day music, dance, art and food extravaganza at Darling Harbour.

Watch SSI New Beginnings Festival leading artists in action:

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