Posts Tagged ‘ Anti Racism Network ’

United In Culture

‘Who lives here belongs here’ was the phrase on the brochure for this event and that was the feeling I got when I walked into the gallery. The atmosphere was warm, welcoming and relaxed. The art work was embracing, open, displaying a feeling of togetherness.  From speaking to sisters and organisers of the event ; Sorcha and Ciarna Hackett it appears this is exactly what they wanted to create. All the artists exhibiting donated their pieces to raise money for the anti racism network.

A colourful collection of artists and musicians filled the back loft gallery at La Catedral studios.  Luke Kasawanga, Zimbabwean born member of the ARN gave a talk at the beginning of the night which by all accounts was uplifting and inspiring. Followed by the wonderful Luka Bloom singing four of his songs one being ‘no matter where you go, there you are’. Noel Sweeney a poet was met with warm applause after sharing one of his poems.

I asked organiser and professional artist Ciarna Hackett how she felt about the evening. ‘I’m very happy, very excited and honoured and humbled by tonight’. Ciarna who married Vietnamese Artist Pham Van Duc came back from Vietnam after 6 years to find that ‘Ireland had become less enlightened, lots of people that I knew and respected were being affected by the media and were thinking it was ok to be having these silly opinions ‘.

‘I had the idea 6 weeks ago, being part of the ARN I was moved by what they were doing. There is a battle against the idea that multiculturalism is dying, in fact multiculturalism is growing, so I wanted to have a celebration of multiculturalism there are so many people who don’t agree with these silly ideas that the media seems to be putting out there’.

When approaching artists to get involved she said that she wanted the event to be a ‘celebration of multiculturalism and a fundraiser for the ARN’. ‘People were incredibly supportive, a lot of people heard about it and approached me which was great- really it’s a simple idea and a simple feeling that people have,  and it’s a celebration of humanity , cause we’re all in this together at the end of the day’.

‘Lot’s of the artists are Irish and see multiculturalism as a beautiful thing, so didn’t want to be negative but the event might be different if there were more non Irish artists… perhaps there would be more. anger which would be understandable if I were  to do it again then I would try to get more non Irish artists involved’.

Sorcha Hackett stated that the exhibition was very open and encompassed all ages and all types of artists from professionals to beginners.  The beauty of tonight she stated ‘is that there is a lot of love and positivity at this event and that although racism is a very sad, negative thing there are so many people who want to give and to change that’.

17 year old artist Dillon Brannick spoke about one of his donated pieces which is a face drawn with many different colours within the image; ‘It’s a person being affected by all the different cultures around him, the modern person because there so many different cultures around them, not just their own’. This piece was sold on the night. On the issue of racism in Ireland; ‘ yeah well it’s bad it’s still here, it’s not that bad though, but in school you do hear some stuff… they might be just messing and mightn’t be trying to be hurtful, but still their comments might come across as hurtful to the other person’.

Anthony Hackett who donated two pieces of artwork discussed his pieces with me. One piece was looking at the superiority of men in religion with women being the underdog, which is similar he felt to the superiority complex that is often present in racism. The next piece is an oil painting called ‘migration or extinction’. In explaining the piece Anthony explained that it is a very natural phenomena of people and animals to move away from places of danger, violence, starvation to safer places.  ‘We’re all here because of this natural movement, we’ve all done it, I’m here because at some stage my ancestors made a move to come here – it is something that should be embraced’.  When asked how large or small he views the problem of racism in Ireland, Anthony stated that he doesn’t think it is a very large problem however not being on the receiving end himself it was hard to say. ‘My son in law is from Vietnam and he doesn’t really experience much racism, he was taunted once by some young lads, I don’t think it’s a very big problem but you have to keep an eye on it at the same time’.

Vietnamese born professional artist Pham Van Duc spoke with me about his experiences in Ireland. Having joined the ARN 3 months ago Duc mentioned he is learning more about the issue of racism by being part of the network and listening to others speak about their experiences of racism in Ireland. One of Duc’s donated pieces, a simple image of lots of faces all together,  brought home how much about togetherness this evening was. Duc stated that being racism being a new concept to him he would like to learn more about it and see the exhibition progress and would personally like to do a series of work on the same theme.

Noel Sweeney on speaking about the poem he recited at the beginning of the evening says…’that was a kind of lovey dovey kind of a thing, I had a few pieces that were more confrontational but when I arrived tonight, got the feel of the place, I decided to go for something more sweet and smooth’. Noel mentions that he lived in London for ten years during the height of the troubles and that this experience helped him to understand the feeling of being an outsider…. ‘other people seem to have forgotten how it feels to be a stranger,  the Irish were all considered to be terrorists in London which wasn’t true… so it makes me think that maybe the rumours that are going around about emigrants now aren’t true either’.

Finally up and coming singer-songwriter Aisling Quinn’s gorgeous vocals brought the evening to an inspired conclusion.

If you are anti racism and would like to find out more about the Anti Racism Network, you can check out the ARN  facebook page to find out when events are on and how you can join.  

By Leeanne Timony