A small group of Adelaide-based activists have devised a project aimed at persuading the government (whether it be the current Coalition, or, after the next Federal election, the ALP) to close the Manus Island and Nauru concentration camps and finally, finally, begin to treat all refugees and asylum seekers in the “care” of the Commonwealth with humanity and compassion.
The Goals: to draw the attention of the public to the on-going detention of refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island, and viable alternatives to this cruel regime; to engage the public – children as well as adults – in supporting refugees and asylum seekers, including those already in the community, and those still in off-shore prisons.
In the unlikely event all the off-shore centres are closed during the time the installation is on display, it will still go ahead, with the information unchanged, and the final message tweeked to say “Never Again”.
The Timing: this is really important. We need it to happen over the coming summer, well before the next Federal election, scheduled to be in or before May next year. Our aim is to have the first installation set up on the banks of the Torrens near the Convention Centre for the ALP National Conference which runs 16th to 18th December.
Who is involved: growing numbers of refugee supporters and advocates, both individuals and organisations, plus well known South Australian artists, musicians, and a professional set designer and builder.
What we have in mind: we envisage a large plywood boat, built off-site and assembled in a number of places over a number of weekends. These include each of the city squares, as well as public places in selected suburbs. This boat will be painted, and covered with lesser-known facts about what really goes on in the detention camps, and messages of hope. A number of well-known artists will do the painting.
We also intend printing a series of “Facts, myths and government lies” about the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, both off-shore and in detention centres in Australia.
The large boat will act as a magnet to people of all ages, who will be able to view the installation and all its messages, and then paint and decorate small balsa wood boats – 500 in number – with their own messages. These small boats, interspersed with other boats made from re-used core flute, and from coloured card folded into origami shapes will then be “planted” around the large boat to be become part of a growing, highly visible and beautiful installation.
At the end of the project, we plan to deliver the large boat, and probably lots of the small ones, to appropriate destinations such as the Department of Home Affairs (Immigration and Citizenship) or to politician’ electoral offices, preferably in a blaze of publicity.
We are also negotiating with the Migration Museum around the possibility of having the boat displayed there.
Some of the finer details are yet to be locked in; many will depend on the extent to which people are willing to lend their energies to the project. But our aim is to create a stunning piece of community art which will help change the treatment of refugees in recent years.
Keen to get involved? – we need people with all kinds of skills!
Contact Mij Tanith on 0405 086 533 or by email.