Refugees vie for art prize

Hussein Ali Zobea in his home studio. 100678 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

TWO Greater Dandenong artists are vying for the Heartlands Refugee Art Prize.
Lamis Albyati from Dandenong and Hussein Ali Zobea from Dandenong North have been shortlisted for the AMES and Multicultural Arts Victoria honour.
Ms Albyati’s acrylic on canvas artwork titled Harmony depicts just that.
“In Dandenong we have more than 200 languages,” she said.
“The key to living happily together is harmony and love and to accept the differences in cultures, looks, colours and religions.”
The 48-year-old single mum from Iraq couldn’t become an artist in her homeland because she refused to make sculptures for dictator Saddam Hussein.
“I loved art since I was little, but never had the chance to express it due to wars back home,” she said.
“At last I’m here and able to do that.
“I think art is like laughter – it has no language and everyone understands it.”
Mr Zobea’s acrylic on canvas artwork With the Unity of Religions Peace Will Spread tells the story of having understanding and harmony between religions.
“The Australian land contains all of us from different religions and cultures to work together equally towards one target: to build Australian prosperity and all ways of life,” he said.
The art teacher and his family arrived in Australia last year after fleeing Iraq for Jordan during the war.
“I am very happy and feel safe with my family here in Australia, which enabled me to practise my art,” he said.
Both artworks will be on display at the Heartlands Refugee Art Prize Exhibition held at Walker Street Gallery in Dandenong from 4 to 27 July.
The competition is in its fourth year, and artists have this time shared their interpretation of the theme ’I wish to see…’.
The winners will be announced and awarded today (Thursday 20 June) and will share more than $20,000 in prizes.