LIVING LEARNING PAKENHAM INC. Skills and Wellbeing Centre

March 21  11am - 2pm.

It was decided that the Changing Face of Cardinia portraits would have their first public viewing on Harmony Day 2017 Cultural Diversity Celebrations. It was a good opportunity to publicly thank the Cardinia Shire for assisting the project with a Social Support Grant.

It was an event filled with Multicultural displays and activities so the portraits provided a fantastic backdrop to the day. There was a real buzz about the portraits from the community after the unveiling by Cardinia Shire Mayor Cr Brett Owen and councillors Cr Carol Ryan, Cr Michael Schilling and Cr Gaeme Moore. Students from local secondary colleges including Minaret Islamic College also helped with unveiling.

Six of the portrait subjects were able to attend making it even more special.

These words of John Lennon’s song Imagine inspired the paintings

“Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world . . .You . . .

You may say I’m a dreamer,

But I’m not the only one

I Hope someday you’ll join us, And the world will be as one”

Changing Face of Cardinia was a Shire of Cardinia Social Support Grant assisted project.

The aim of the project was to enhance social cohesion and provide the opportunity to engage community through inclusive celebration.

Cardinia Shire has a long history of multiculturalism with the majority originating from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and European countries but in more recent times the new communities are more culturally and linguistically diverse. Social cohesion is widely recognised as a social determinant of health and well-being.

This project has successfully brought together people from diverse cultural origins. It has given some of the participants confidence and a sense of belonging to their community that hadn’t existed before.  As the project progressed it became apparent that it represented a microcosm of the broader Australian migration story and therefore became Changing Faces - a portrait of Australian diversity - representing 17 of more than 270 ancestries identified in Australia today.

Each of the panels is painted a unique tone based on the skin of the person portrayed with the face emerging from the tone. When displayed as a cohesive group the portraits form a beautiful patchwork of colours to symbolically represent the rich tapestry of Australian multicultural society.To capture a unique expression on each of the faces the artist must imagine the emotion behind the face, quite an intimate task. To be respectful of each of the individuals they are identified only by first name. Other references are intentionally omitted to avoid cultural stereotyping and bias.

By looking into the eyes of these faces we feel a sense of Humanity. It’s hard to imagine what some of these eyes have seen. They reflect a kaleidoscope of emotions - sadness, happiness, confidence, shyness, relief, hope. The eyes reveal the person within as a proud individual, each one different but all part of an Australian society that allows and accepts individuality and diversity. A tradition of Multiculturalism has helped instil these values in our society and we should be proud that most Australians are in favour of this.

Thank you to Adaw, Adriaan, Aref, Chézahn, David, Elise, Eptesam, Gabriel, Kenneth & Terrylene, Laquon, Mamta & Verma, Murray, Nataly, Phakkamon, Regina, Rocky, Shahnaz and Van  for being participants in the project.