Media Release: Festival Gives Refugee Artists a New Beginning

The New Beginnings Festival for Refugee Week brings together new and established communities for a program of visual arts, film, installations and workshops.

The festival will include the Singular/Plural art exhibition, featuring established contemporary artists Lindy Lee, Aroha Groves, Alex Seton and Garry Trinh exhibiting alongside newly arrived artists from refugee backgrounds, including Sameer Dakhil — an expert engraver from Iraq.

Dakhil has more than 35 years’ experience as a sculptor and engraver, gathered both in his native country of Iraq and in Australia, where he has lived since being forced to leave his birth country in search of safety.

For Sameer, the festival’s name is synonymous with his own fresh start in Australia.

“I need a new beginning,” he said.

“This festival represents a great opportunity for newly arrived artists like me to share our work and connect with the Australian public.”

New Beginnings Creative Producer Carolina Triana said the festival was an opportunity for Sydneysiders to come together and learn about the cultural heritage and vibrant artistry of some of Australia’s newest community members.

“Being a ‘refugee’ is not the singularly defining aspect of a person’s identity,” she said.

“We hope to facilitate creative exchanges between refugee and non-refugee communities. Getting to know someone through their art makes us focus on their creativity and potential — labels are no longer relevant.”

The New Beginnings Festival for Refugee Week program will also include the short film screening ‘Sydney Stories’, artist workshops and a Persian tea ceremony presented as part of the Community Kouzina project.

The New Beginnings Festival for Refugee Week event is part of the broader New Beginnings: Refugee Arts & Culture Festival 2017, an initiative of not-for-profit organisation Settlement Services International (SSI). It will be held from 21 June to 2 July at Redfern’s premier creative hub, 107 (previously 107 Projects). For more information or tickets, click here.

The festival will continue later in the year with a one-day music, dance, art and food extravaganza at Darling Harbour.

For more information, head to https://www.newbeginningsfestival.com.au.