I was asked to facilitate a creative process for young refugees with Melaleuca Refugee Centre in Darwin. The young people were mainly from Congo and varying in ages from 11 to 19 years of age. The project was about them looking at what their identity is now in the context of living in Australia.
Identity is a difficult thing for any teenager to look into, but even harder when you’ve been displaced. A lot of them are without family as well, so they are creating their own family with each other.
We did the paintings over four days and it was a bit tricky with the language as some of them had very little English. Some of them have never done art, (it seems that the schools think it’s more important to get their English and basics in, so they don’t get to do any of the arts!) but they moved past being timid as I got them first to create a portal on their canvas.
I think there was just delight from most of them spraying and putting paint onto the canvas! Even the reluctant ones eventually got into it.It was interesting on the second day when they were really engaged in their process – all of a sudden there was that hum of flow…love that feeling! The lady who runs the project was amazed at the quiet and even commented on how particularly a couple of the younger ones had never been that still.
On the last day as they finished I started putting all their paintings together so they could see what they had created, to show them it was valued. This project will be show cased in an exhibition in February at a local gallery.

~ ~ ~

Gisela Pineiro Visit Gisela at artuitionwithgisela.com