Emotion-charged Art

All week I have been thinking about Parvi.

Partly because I had his name face-painted on to my left arm. My nick-name, Heath, was on my right. HeathParvi

Parvi is a four-year-old boy in indefinite detention with his Mum in Sydney’s Villawood detention centre.

I tried to imagine my own kids in jail aged 4

But I couldn’t and I really didn’t want to. Parvi’s name was painted on to my arm at the opening of the Rural Australian for Refugees exhibition Out of the Darkness.

The exhibition was launched at the Queenscliff Uniting Church where I work in community development.

One of the major benefits of my day job is working for an organisation that celebrates art and supports artists. I’m pleased to say that I helped with the launch of the exhibition, sourcing the musicians.

My very talented brother-in-law Patrick Evans and his musical partner Suzette Herft donated their time and played three uplifting, moving pieces.

Their first song The City has No Walls was written by my (also ridiculously talented) husband Richard.

The second Light a Candle was written by Suzette and I loved it because it was about showing you care and trying to make a difference even when you feel like despairing.  And then to finish they played Blowing in the Wind which we all sung along to.

The exhibition itself is incredibly powerful – presented as a large installation it combines paintings, fibres, graphics, photography, sculpture and text.

It highlights Australia’s poor treatment of asylum seekers; and it encourages us to stand together and shine a light in the darkness.

It made me wonder what I could do to help…and I had a thought.

What if children’s writers became pen pals with kids in detention? Might this give them some small sense that not all Australians are against them and bring them some slight comfort…

Stay tuned. I’m on the case 🙂




2 thoughts on “Emotion-charged Art

  1. heathergallagher2014 says:

    Thanks for being my first official commenter Helen 🙂 Am still figuring out all the IT on this and has been a bit hair-pulling! I’ve emailed an organisation called ChilOut – Children Out of Detention and am waiting on a response. But Julian is a good idea – my RAR friends have a contact for him – will follow up. And thanks again for reading.


  2. Helen Chapman says:

    Am enjoying your blog Heather and reading about the exhibit. With regards to the letter writing I think it’s a wonderful idea. Refugee advocate and barrister, Julian Burnside QC, has set up a letter writing campaign for adults in detention so he’d be a good person to approach to get advice about doing the same for children. Helen


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