One of Australia’s most celebrated artists was in Macarthur today to launch a preview of the Campbelltown Arts Centre’s latest exhibition.
Another Day in Paradise is a collection of artworks completed by executed Bali Nine member Myuran Sukumaran in the years before his 2015 execution, curated by his close friend and artistic mentor Ben Quilty.
Mr Quilty worked with arts centre director Michael Dagostino to exhibit the works – the first time Sukumaran’s paintings have ever been shown publicly.
In addition to work from Sukumaran, the exhibition also features commissioned work by leading Australian artists (Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Megan Cope, Jagath Dheerasekara, Taloi Havini, Khaled Sabsabi and Matthew Sleeth) exploring the death penalty, social justice and the power of art.
Mr Quilty told the Advertiser the Campbelltown Arts Centre was the type of museum in which any young artist would dream of having their work exhibited and he felt it was the best place to show his friend’s work.
“Campbelltown Arts Centre is one of those peak institutions that you hope one day you’ll be good enough to show in,” he said.
“It also happens to be as close to where Myuran Sukumaran grew up (Auburn) as we could get and still be a fabulous museum.
“If anyone in Campbelltown hasn’t visited this arts centre, firstly they’re insane and they’ve got to come, but this is the show to see.”
Mr Dagostino said he was “compelled to show Myuran’s work” after being approached by Mr Quilty last March.
“Art is a vessel in the discovery of complex issues of our time,” the director said.
“Art can truly change a person.”
Mr Dagostino said the exhibition was “significantly curated” and featured only the very best of Sukumaran’s work.
“No artist wants their entire catalogue on show at one time,” he said.
“Only the most exemplary works were included.”
The director said Sukumaran’s mother had visited the exhibition on Tuesday and was blown away.
“The family were consulted all the way through,” he said.
“When Myuran’s mother visited she kept saying ‘he’s still here’.”
Mr Quilty hopes any young men in the region feeling alienated from their peers can view the exhibition and find hope.
“As a young man I really did not feel like I fit in, and I didn’t even have to deal with racism, like Myuran did and many others do,” he said.
“I felt isolated, like I was part of a group of men who really were outsiders.
“To have the opportunity to see a show like this, to see the work of a man who made such gruesome mistakes, who got caught and went through intense punishment only to create something so profoundly moving and important, I think it will just give you hope.
“Maybe the show will allow young men to feel they do have a place to fit in. Myuran etched out his place to fit in inside Kerobokan prison.
“I think this work is something to aspire to.”
The exhibition runs from Friday, January 13 to Sunday, March 26 as part of the Sydney Festival.
It also includes three forums to be held on January 14, February 4 and March 18.