Asylum seeker artworks designed to get you talking

ARTIST Merran Koren is using the Easter message of life and death  to trigger community discussion on refugees and their acceptance into Australian society.

With experience in  helping Vietnamese refugees in the 1980s and in recent efforts to assist Sri Lankan asylum seekers, she feels it is time to challenge views in the south-west population.

“We’ve got to overcome our fear of this issue — too many people don’t want to talk about it,” Koren said while explaining her 11 charcoal drawings displayed in the foyer of  St Joseph’s Church meeting space in  Warrnambool.

 “Being a Catholic I feel we’ve become so immersed in the sex abuse issue we should now be thinking about all the other people who have crosses to bear. The treatment of refugees is also a form of abuse.

“Why should we allow authorities to incite fear when it’s not necessary?

“Only a very, very small section of asylum seekers would be violent.

“It’s a challenge for the community to think about what we can do to assist.

“I’m trying to get the conversation going.”

Her works, titled Stations of being a refugee, are captioned with themes from the biblical book of Isaiah and portray stark scenes of children, family groups and elderly figures.

One features a large question mark over a cross.

“It’s designed to ask, if we believe in the crucifixion and resurrection, how do we translate that faith to our lives?” Koren said.

“If we say we are keen on social justice we have to stick our necks out.” 

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