The art of belonging

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 24-Jun-2016

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Project mentor, Forest Keegel, with artist Htoo Gay Shwemyaingtheinwin. Photo: Andrew Perryman
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A new art exhibition showcasing the work of six young people from Bendigo’s Karen community will be launched at Morley’s Emporium as part this year’s Refugee Week celebrations. 

The exhibition will explore the importance of belonging for young people with refugee backgrounds living in Greater Bendigo. 

The exhibition, Belonging in Bendigo, emerges out of a participatory arts-based research project led by Caitlin Nunn (Durham University, Victoria University). 

It is part of a cross-national study of belonging among young people with refugee backgrounds living in regional cities in Australia and the United Kingdom. 

“Belonging is an important human need, and belonging – or not belonging – in the local community and environment can have significant emotional and practical effects for refugee-background young people, including in relation to health and wellbeing and opportunities and aspirations,” Dr Nunn said. 

“Belonging is also critical to the wider community, with implications for social inclusion and participation.”  

The six emerging artists and musicians featured in the exhibition have spent the past few months participating in workshops and mentorships with the researcher and local artists and musicians to produce works that reflect their ideas and experiences of belonging in Bendigo. 

One participant, Htoo Gay, said art helps express feelings. 

“You don’t have to tell people exactly how you feel but you can put it on the paper,” she said. 

As well as viewing and hearing the works on display, exhibition attendees will have the opportunity to contribute to a collective artwork exploring their own experiences of belonging in Bendigo. 

Belonging in Bendigo will be launched on Saturday from 2pm to 4pm. 

Entry is free and all are welcome. It is located in Morley’s Emporium’s new community art space at 25 Mitchell Street, Bendigo. The exhibition will also be open during business hours from Monday, June 27 to Saturday July 3. 

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