Lenin wrote secret letters with milk when he was in prison in Siberia. Not many people experiment with such strange pigments, and even less out of need than curiosity. For some artists held in Australian detention centres, working on the Refugee Art Project, paint and other art supplies became hard to get a hold of, so they made art with what they had at hand. Which led victoriana-like, delicate watercolour drawings done with instant coffee, among other ingenious ideas. These and other results of the Project will be on display at the Mori Gallery as part of Refugee Week, featuring work by artists originally from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Iraq and further afield.
Detention centres are essentially prisons. Artworks at the Mori exhibition are by people stuck there, children and adults; a few released into the community, but most of them still behind bars. They get money from sales, but it doesn't do much to get them out of such places and into a life. Nonetheless, bearing witness to them is of no small importance. And once you're there, maybe you can think of something more useful to do.
Image by All Fadhel.