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Coordinator: UB     Artist Assist: Azizeh, Mahla

Asylum Silk Roads was a 6 month community art project for people seeking asylum, refugee and migrated in Greater Melbourne. This project sought to encourage social creativity as well as help the broader community to recognise asylum seekers as active participants in our society. The project provided free stencil workshops for 5 asylum seeker support organisations in order to create a large textile artwork which will be exhibited in mid-late 2017.

*The people who allowed to show their face on the video clip are Mostly permanent resistant or citizen. We will not record current asylum seeker’s face without agreement.*

In many different cultures, people have lived their daily lives surrounded by patterns printed on textiles. Throughout history, many such patterns spread across the Eurasian continent via traders and empires along the Silk Road. These textiles moved with people, objects and ideas, with their patterns shifting and changing as they moved across space, time and cultures. This project is, in part, inspired by the history of cultural exchanges embodied in textile patterns. Asylum seekers are one part of a larger pattern of human movement; a movement driven by war, political crises, and environmental problems. In the early 21st century, this pattern is intensifying with political consequences across the world. In an Australian context, the issue is hugely contentious, causing deep divides within the nation. Asylum seekers move within this contested field, and yet they are, of cause, ordinary people. This project seeks to engage with them to create collaborative artworks, share stories and to engage with the broader community. This project uses the metaphor of the Silk Road to refers to the historical pattern of human movement, and also a physical object made of silk with patterns printed on it.

The textile stencil workshops were held with five different organisations; Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, CERES Environment Park, Lentara UnitingCare, Melbourne Artists for Asylum Seekers, Southern Migrant and Refugee Centre, with up to five three-hour lessons for participating groups. Those groups included people hailing from Afghanistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Greece, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand, Korea, Somalia, Australia and Indigenous countries. The classes taught participants how to create stencil prints, as well as discussions on the sharing of stories about traditional patterns in different cultures. During the class participants designed their own stencils, and printed their creations onto pieces of fabric. They also exchanged patterns with each other, in order to combine them in different ways. Finally participants decided how to arrange the different designs onto a long piece of fabric. The completed collective artwork was exhibited in various places, including the Dockland Library in Melbourne CBD and Heritage Hill in Dandenong. In addition to the collective artwork, there were also multiple editions of each print created that the participants could keep or give away. By engaging in this easy, efficient and attractive skill, participants were encouraged to creatively collaborate with others in the community.


Aaleel, Abdulah, Adeniyi, Ajanta, Aki, Alex, Alia, Ameer, Ameneh, Anahita, Andrew, Anthigngna, Armin, Azizeh, Belques, Carla, Cecil, Dariush, Gulbakht, Elham, Eva, Eunhee, Farah, Fateme, Gholam, Haftu, Hanna, Hasena, Hassan, Hema, Hosseini, Imoan, Jan, Jacqueline, Jessi + 4 kids, Kate, Kendall, Khan, Khalida, Khakima, Kiki, Lax, Leila, Lulu, Omar, Razia, Robyn, Roya, Ruq, Sahla, Shahrabi, Sheabana, Shin, Shila, Shree, Sughra, Soyo, Soyun, Lidia, Magaret, Margan, Mahla, Maryam, Manizha, Marlon, Marayam, Mathees, Mohammad, Mohnoor,Mohsen, Nadia, Nagri, Nazsh, Ngoc,Nicholas, Nilma, Niyousha, Nola, Qadir, Quinn, Quyen, Queenmary, Sam, Sayed, Salim, Sara, Sarah, Sharaheh, Sofia, Subess, Sumayya, Tadros, Tam, Tash, Tri, Yashar, Youbi, Yomi, Youssef, Zahra, Zakia, Zenash, Zeti, Zohla, Zolaykha


Special Thanks

Timothy Strom, Debby Maziarz, Jodee Mundy, Mark Gregory,Celine Yap, Laurel Mackenzie, Nicholas Luxton, Soyun park, Lidia Jade Black, Zephir Thomas, Sol Lee, Eunsuk Han


Organisation people

David O’ Halloran, Domenica Vavala, Ashley Higgs, Sopia Cai, Tri Setyani, Aimee Dare, Carla Nayton, Kirsty Sword Gusmao, Michael Kinyua, Crystal Naismith, Sharon Smith, Lorna Pettifer, Nola Pollard, Reichil Cheetham, Aarti Desai, Robyn Gawenda, Aarti Desai, Shaun Larkin, Lina Kastoumis, Selene Bateman

Asylum Silk Roads is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, also supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

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