The object before you is an artwork created by artist Naz Jebeli in 2030 and presented to the Australian prime-minister Tanya Butler on the passing of the "Open Borders Act". In the years preceding Naz Jebeli had worked tirelessly to change public perception of refugees.
In 2024 Jebeli's interactive art project - "Meet the New Neighbours" was a simple experience where Australians could meet recent refugees. However, it became a valuable knowledge sharing practice as refugees, were found to have ingenious ideas for living in an increasingly hot Australian climate.
In 2026 the Refugee Resilience Research Institute was established to provide refugee perspective on a range of policies and projects. In 2029 Jebeli was invited to present her work in Paris at an exhibition attended by the Prime-Minister. She credited this exhibition with "opening my mind and my heart to the enormous value of welcoming those who seek refuge, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because refugees have a lot to teach us about our own resilience".
Despite the challenges of being a refugee in a new country, the kindness and generosity of the Australian community inspired me to keep pushing forward and never give up on my dreams.
The warm welcome and support I received from the Australian community gave me hope and renewed my faith in humanity, reminding me that even in the toughest of times, there are still good people in the world who are willing to help others.
The exquisite artwork embodies the essence of refugees who feel adrift in a world without a true sense of belonging, yet simultaneously connected to every corner of the globe. The intricate wire frame of the human form symbolises the weight of societal pressures, emotional traumas, political turmoil, and other external forces that bear down upon us, attempting to bend us to their will and keep us down.
In the midst of the global pandemic, we have all experienced a sense of uncertainty and upheaval. But for refugees in Australia, this upheaval has been particularly acute. Already struggling to find a sense of belonging in a new country, they have been faced with added layers of isolation, fear, and hardship.
As borders closed and travel restrictions were put in place, many refugees found themselves cut off from loved ones and support networks. The already difficult process of integration became even more challenging as language classes, community events, and other resources were cancelled or moved online.
Meanwhile, the economic fallout of the pandemic hit refugees particularly hard. Many work in industries that were among the first to be shut down, leaving them without income or job security. And because of their precarious legal status, they often have limited access to government support programs.
Through it all, the wire frame of the human form in the artwork serves as a poignant reminder of the weight that refugees carry on their shoulders. As we navigate these uncertain times, it is crucial that we remember and support those who are most vulnerable among us.
Amidst the chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic, I found solace in the art of hand stitching and handmade leather craft. Each stitch and cut was a moment of mindfulness, a chance to slow down and create something beautiful with my own two hands.
But it wasn't just about the act of creation. It was also about giving new life to something that had been discarded or forgotten. As I worked with leather scraps and repurposed materials, I couldn't help but think about the parallels with the lives of refugees.
Just as I was taking something that was no longer useful and transforming it into something beautiful, refugees are often forced to rebuild their lives from the ground up. They may have lost everything they once had, but with resilience and determination, they can create something new and meaningful.
In a world that can feel overwhelming and uncertain, the act of creating something tangible and beautiful is a powerful reminder of our own strength and resilience. And by supporting refugees and other vulnerable communities, we can help ensure that they have the resources and opportunities they need to create their own new beginnings.