In the centre of a gallery's wooden floor is a sculpture on a circular bed of multicoloured pompoms, predominantly in pastel hues and bright, rainbow colours. Here and there, feathery fins like little pastel-coloured flames protrude from between the pompoms.
The sculpture depicts a desert hedgehog walking on its hind legs and dressed in a striped green shirt and beige trousers. More stiff fins like flames are attached to the foot and ankle of the leg that's raised behind it as it walks, and these are in varying shades of blue. The hedgehog is carrying a rolled blue mat and a canvas satchel decorated with red lovehearts.
The hedgehog's head and back are covered with spines, but they're softened by, and embedded in, clusters of multi-tonal pompoms in shades of grey, brown and black, with flecks of brighter colours scattered throughout.
Seen from above, pale yellow letters studded with starry shapes become discernible around the perimeter of the round mat of pompoms, and they spell out 'WELCOME'.
A close-up of the hedgehog's face shows gleaming black eyes and a shiny black nose on a pale, pointy snout streaked with grey, white, beige and a touch of mauve, and speckled with black.
A bearded young man stands facing the artwork in the centre of the gallery, looking solemnly down at it.
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In Welcome, the message is clear - everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers is a cruel and inhumane stain on our national identity. By cutting through the policies, political games, sensationalist media, societal apathy and indifference this work forges a message of resilience and desire for positive change. The desert hedgehog, serving as an international symbol of hope, stands tall. His prickles are emblematic of where he comes from, and his strength and determination to ask for more. Upon closer inspection, with more exposure, we see that they are actually soft and non-threatening. It is a humble and brave thing to ask for help. What are we afraid of?
This work is made from wool, plaster, latex, expanding foam, acrylic paint, papier mache, cardboard, sherpa wool, cotton fabric, corduroy
Bachelor of Fine Arts (Design and Production), 2018