On a warm Friday evening in our home town of Canberra, Australia, amidst the bustle of businesspeople leaving the city after a full week’s work and families entering the city to enjoy the atmosphere on one of the last long days of the year, we made our way towards the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre on London Circuit, excited to attend the opening night of a very special art event, conceived here in Canberra and showcasing the work of some remarkable cross-cultural women…
‘Creating Space’ is an exhibition that has been put together by the women of the Migrant Women’s Art Group (MWAG), which meets in Gungahlin, in the north of Canberra. Kirandeep Grewal (of kiranDesignstudio) and Michele Grimston (of the Belconnen Arts Centre) launched the MWAG together in 2019, and ever since – yes, even through COVID, whenever and however safe to do so – the group has seen Kiran and others lead weekly art workshops for migrant women in the Gungahlin region. In these workshops, both budding artists and those with many years of arts practice under their belts come together to share their stories and experiences of creating art and craft across their different homes. ‘Creating Space’ is the MWAG’s first exhibition, and was launched on Friday 11 March 2022. It will be on display at the Theo Notaras Multicultural Centre until Sunday 20 March 2022.
We were so excited to be there at the opening on Friday. 77 pieces were on display, with several available for purchase at https://shop.belcoarts.com.au/. The artists and their families were there as well, warmly welcoming the guests and happily discussing their artworks and broader arts practices with those attending. We heard of how some of the artists engage in traditional arts practices that hark back to their homelands, which helps them stay connected to their places of origin; of other artists’ new practices – such as foraging for plants and other natural materials on local, Canberra hills – which help them form bonds to the nature surrounding their new homes here in Australia; and still more, of the significant emotional and creative links that have been formed between the artists over the course of their participation in the MWAG.
It was a night to remember, and an experience to behold, and we were truly honoured to be there, witnessing these women create space for themselves and fill it with such beauty and vision. Below are some of our photos from opening night.
You can catch the exhibition from 8:30am until 7:30pm, Monday through Saturday, and from 9:00am until 4:30pm on Sundays. We encourage you to go on in and have a look at all the wonderful art on display.
© Dunja and Jasmine, be:longing, 2022