Vol 36(4) - 'A Moment Shared'
‘A Moment Shared’
This issue’s cover image is an oil painting on canvas by Sutueal Bekele Althe — a refugee from Ethiopia. Sutueal studied at the Ethiopian Fine Arts College but, when just 16 years old and at risk due to growing political tensions, he first relocated to Mersabet refuge camp on the Ethiopian/Kenyan border before receiving an opportunity to resume his art study in Nairobi, Kenya. He then relocated to Kakuma refugee camp in Northern Kenya where, with support from the UN, Sutueal was given his own studio. In 1998 Philip Ruddock, then Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, visited the refugee camp and wheels were put in motion for Sutueal to further develop his talent; in 1999, he was granted refugee status and moved to Australia.
‘A Moment Shared’ was one of the entries in the Heartlands 2011 artwork competition run by Multicultural Arts Victoria. Sutueal’s painting is about the hopes and dreams of people who move away from their homeland in pursuit of a better life. The artist says that his country of birth has been the biggest influence on his art because ‘80 to 90 per cent of the population are in need of help’. Sutueal’s work inevitably reflects this. In ‘A Moment Shared’, the colours are symbolic of the artist’s ethnicity — they are the colours of Africa. Intentionally vivid, they parallel the richness and vibrancy of the ‘here and now’. Figures just discernable behind the scarves wear colours that contribute to their identity, and represent a community that stands together. They hold and help each other; they are linked to their past while standing fully in the present. Filled with common aspirations, it is a harmonious moment in time.