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A NEW national art prize is encouraging refugees and asylum seekers to pursue their talents.
City of Greater Dandenong has launched Home and Art to celebrate refugee and asylum seekers’ contributions to Australia’s cultural and social fabric.
Artworks can be paintings, prints, sculptures, textiles, video, photography or drawing and could tell the artist’s personal journey or reflect long-standing artistic traditions or values.
A selection of entries will form an exhibition at Walker Street Gallery in Dandenong in July.
City of Greater Dandenong mayor Heang Tak said the prize created an opportunity for the community “to understand more about the lives of these people prior to and following their arrival in Australia”.
“It is very important for us to welcome new people to our country,” he said.
“Home and Art is another way of doing just that.”
Home and Art ambassador Kosar Majani arrived in Australia from Iran in 2001 at age 18.
“Being an artist is something in you and comes from your heart,” she said.
“Although I am not a refugee, for me art was the only way of expressing myself and taking my mind off the pain of the separation from my family and my culture.”
The Home and Art Prize is open to artists that arrived as a refugee or sought asylum in Australia after 1 January 2000.
Eligible entrants can also apply for help to realise their artwork and freight it to the gallery if chosen for the exhibition.
Applications close on 14 March. First prize is $3000 and there’ll be a second cash prize of $500 for an artist living in the City of Greater Dandenong.
There’s an additional prize of an artist in residency studio space in Dandenong for three months.
Call Walker Street Gallery on 9706 8441 or visit www.walkerstgallery.com.au for entry forms and more information.

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