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William Kelly’s Big Picture
Arts, Community, Education, History, Human Rights, Social Justice
William Kelly, widely considered the social conscience of Australian art, once said, “art can’t stop a bullet, but it can stop a bullet from being fired.” Can it? 60 years ago there was the threat of nuclear confrontation, racial violence, sexual tensions, and a conflict in the Middle East. A coalition of Western powers led by the USA dropped thousands of bombs and civilians were the victims. Today, nuclear warheads are being fired over Japan, stress, fear and terror around the world is escalating. It’s a time of civil wars, terrorist attacks, and of refugees in crisis, ethnic, religious and racial conflict. Things have come full circle with assaults on human rights, social justice and free speech that attempt to crush the voices of journalists and artists. Circumstances that permeated both America and Australia in the past have returned. Forces that led to the rise of fascism and the fear that gripped the ‘Cold War’ era are now creating a chill again.Kelly’s personal journey is from a poor, violent family life in New York State where he was in a gang as a youth, to receiving an Australian Violence Prevention Award from the Prime Minister and a Courage of Conscience award in the USA – an honour shared with Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali and John Lennon. This journey is the “back story” to the creation of art, by him and by others, that is powerful enough to effect change like Picasso’s “Guernica”.While using his monumental artwork “Peace or War/The Big Picture” as its central theme, it explores the ideas and actions of those who have been part of Kelly’s journey from Nobel Prize winners to actor/activists such as Martin Sheen and photographer Nick Ut whose famous ‘Vietnam Napalm’ photo is credited with helping end the Vietnam War. Their discussions highlight the fact that we continue to make the same bad judgements over and over when we enter wars, and it gives us passionate insights into the views of artists who have taken a stand, and sometimes paid the price.This documentary encompasses people, places and events from every continent - from Hiroshima survivors to Iranian musicians and indigenous artists in Australia. The film spans a dynamic social and historical landscape, and will feature music relevant to the times - from Neil Young, Midnight Oil, Ed Sheeran and others. They form the film’s soundscape with songs of protest and hope.Kelly is credited with “redefining humanist art,” and is an internationally recognised and respected artist, but most importantly he is a peacemaker. “Peace or War/ The Big Picture” is the culmination of a life’s work and will be unveiled at the magnificent State Library reading room in Melbourne. It is William Kelly’s big picture in a literal sense and in a metaphorical one too.The documentary is, indeed, about the big picture ... not just our past but our shared future. And it couldn’t be more timely.
Arts, Community, Social Justice
Fitzroy Jive is a documentary about music and people, about culture and how it moves around, always reconfiguring and sprouting in the most unexpected ways and places. Melbourne, Australia, as a hotbed of African music? Melbourne is widely-acknowledged as one of the best live-music cities in the world. Rock, punk, hip hop, folk, alternative, heavy-metal, dance. These are all genres that have come to Melbourne over the decades and entertained and inspired many. But Melbourne is now experiencing something entirely new - the dawn of the African music scene in Australia. Emerging musicians such as Lamine Sonko, Ajak Kwai and the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra are shining brightly. They may be little known outside some circles, but the impact of their vibrant music is growing and spreading around Australia and the world. Artists like the Sydney based Sampa the Great are joining this new, exciting musical movement. And established singers in Africa are sitting up and taking note. Fitzroy Jive is a story about migration and community too, told through the eyes and songs of five African musicians/performers - mainly based in Melbourne. They live and work in the inner suburbs of Sunshine, Fitzroy and Footscray where life is challenging and music a panacea for the pain that comes with searching for belonging in a new world and negotiating life across two cultures. The proposed documentary addresses questions including why and how the characters left their homeland/s; their personal, national and musical roots; and why the move to Australia and in particular Melbourne. Was it just a bureaucratic anomaly? How have they adjusted to this new society? Is Australia a racist country? What role does music play in retaining a sense of identity, building a new community and connecting with this new environment? How do they deal with the mixture of repressed hate and smothering love that follow them around? Fitzroy Jive will find its heart and meaning, its denouement and climax in the joy of African music, and the music’s ability to cut across all the boundaries and spread its joy to the wider community. Until recently, African music was understood in Australia only in the very limited terms of star artists who toured here in the 60’s and 70’s like Miriam Makeba and Abdullah Ibrahim (nee Dollar Brand) – and then in the 80’s, Sweet Honey in the Rock and the Bhundu Boys. But since the rise of hip-hop, with its samples from African music as well as American funk and German electronica, the grooves of the myriad genres that add up to the totality of African music make a lot more sense to Australian ears. Fitzroy Jive captures artists in the act of creation. It will be an entertaining, inclusive history of African creatives in Melbourne.
Arts, Community, Disability, Education, Health & Wellbeing, History, Human Rights, Indigenous, Refugees, Social Justice, Welfare, Youth
“If you don't accept people can change ~ no one has an incentive to change..." Myuran Sukumaran (17 April 1981 – 29 April 2015) was an Australian who was convicted in Indonesia of drug trafficking as a member of the Bali Nine. In 2005, Sukumaran was arrested in a room at the Melasti Hotel in Kuta with three others. Police found 334 g (11.8 oz) of heroin in a suitcase in the room. According to court testimonies of convicted drug mules, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan were the co-ringleaders of the heroin-smuggling operation from Indonesia to Australia. After a criminal trial, Sukumaran was sentenced on 14 February 2006 by the Denpasar District Court to execution by firing squad. Australian death-row prisoner Myuran Sukumaran made a personal appeal for mercy to Joko Widodo, painting a portrait of the Indonesian president and signing it with the words 'People Can Change'. After lodging an appeal against his sentence, this was initially dismissed by the Bali High Court. A judicial review conducted by the Indonesian Supreme Court on 6 July 2011 affirmed the death sentence. Sukumaran’s plea for clemency was rejected by the President of Indonesia on 30 December 2014, and Sukumaran was expected to face execution, together with Chan. The execution was carried out on 29 April 2015. Myuran Sukumaran led an art studio for his fellow prisoners during his time in Kerobokan prison, where he was mentored. Myuran taught English, computer, graphic design and philosophy classes to prisoners. The portrait of Mr Joko Widodo signed 'People Can Change' is his most recent work. He painted the oil on canvas artwork in Kerobokan prison in late January 2015, in his final weeks there before being transferred to Nusakambangan Island. Myu painted multiple self-portraits while on Nusakambangan. His final painting resembles a bleeding Indonesian flag. He was recently awarded an associate degree in fine arts by Curtin University. Myuran Sukumaran had his first major Australian exhibition at the Campbelltown Arts Centre in January 2017, curated by noted Australian artist, Ben Quilty. ‘Alone from night to night you'll find me Too weak to break these chains that bind me I need no shackles to remind me I'm just a prisoner, don't let me be a prisoner From one command I stand and wait now From one who's master of my fate now I can't escape for it's too late now I'm just a prisoner, don't let me be a prisoner.’