Harmony Art Collective
The Harmony Art Collective pairs artists with kids from all over the world, who face new challenges of being migrants in Australia.
The Harmony Art Collective Exhibition is a collaborative exhibition that features artwork by over 300 young migrants newly arrived in Australia. In celebration of Harmony Day, on March 21st, the exhibition promotes cultural diversity, heritage, and self-identity using art as a creative lens.
The exhibition, located in Darling Quarter, Sydney, is a culmination of a series of eight workshops delivered across six states. SBS, aMBUSH Gallery, and the Department of Social Services teamed up to start the initiative with the help of four distinguished and talented artists who were tasked with overseeing and planning the workshops: Brad Eastman (Beastman), Regan Tamanui (Haha), Ben Frost, and Kaff-eine.
"There are so many ways that these workshops benefited them, whether it be socially, artistically, or even just to give them a bit of confidence.”
– Brad Eastman
The Harmony Art Collective pairs artists with kids from all over the world, who face new challenges of being migrants in Australia. Many come from countries beset by war, and social and political unrest, such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Myanmar. They have left their homes and settled in Australia in hopes of a better life.
Brad Eastman is a contemporary artist from Sydney whose work ranges from paintings and digital illustrations to commission pieces and large-scale murals. His work has been featured in galleries all over the world, including Paris, London, and Hong Kong and he has been commissioned by the likes of Hyundai, Westfield, and Facebook.
“It was more than just a workshop,” Eastman told The Point Magazine.
“Hearing where the kids were coming from and their background, that’s what drew me in. I was challenged by it, but also inspired by it, and it learned a lot from it as well.”
Eastman directed workshops in Queensland and Tasmania, and although the task of overseeing dozens of kids, many of whom had no experience with art, seemed daunting at first, the experience was ultimately a meaningful and rewarding one.
The words “tolerance”, “lucky”, and “peace” are painted on one of the panels created in the workshops. On another, the words “homesick”, “alone”, and “hollow”.
Leaving all the comforts of home, friends and family, and moving to a new place is never easy. The exhibition sheds light on the not just the struggles of being a young migrant, but also overcoming it by spreading positivity and openness.
Kagi is one of the young artists who moved to Australia in 2015, settling in Queensland. Born in South Sudan during the civil war period, she fled to Kenya where she lived as a refugee. She is currently pursuing a career in International Studies in Psychology and wants to use art to help heal people with psychological problems. Adjusting to life in Australia has not been easy for Kagi, but one way she has learned to cope with the disconnect is through her art.
“I started painting when I moved to Australia, it was a way to connect with my culture and express myself.”
Reminiscent of her life back in Kenya, her paintings depict African culture and vivid landscapes. Kagi has not only found her voice in art, but also a genuine passion for it. After just two years of painting, she has already had her own art show featuring twenty-five pieces. She says a second show is in the works.
Eastman said that there was much more to the Harmony Art Collective than just promoting cultural diversity and celebrating Harmony Day.
“Even if all they got from the workshop was a friend, but nothing to do with art, that’s awesome and even if one kid came and wasn’t interested in art before and became interested after, that’s great too. There are so many ways that these workshops benefited them, whether it be socially, artistically, or even just to give them a bit of confidence.”
The Harmony Art Collective Exhibition is open from 15 March – 25 April.
Harmony Art Collective shows how young migrants are finding their voice through art.