Melbourne artist Yask Desai explores migrant experience

By Our Reporter
Yask Desai. Pic supplied

Melbourne-based Australian Indian Visual artist Yask Desai retells the experiences of men who migrated from India to work in rural Australia during the late 19th century in a new exhibition Beyond Worlds.

Through documents, photographs, video and archives, Desai’s works concern itself with themes of place and collective and individual identity, often combining historical and social research to explore the cultural connections between imagery, history and constructions of identity.

In 2021, Desai was a finalist in Gradfoto 2020 (part of the Ballarat Photo Biennial) for his work Telia, which will be on view in Between Worlds. In 2020, a work from Telia was a winner in the Portrait of Britain Prize.

Hawthorn’s Town Hall Gallery presents Between Worlds, which commenced on March 1 and will run till Saturday 9 April 2022. Desai’s work is among the exhibition that presents four distinct bodies of work by artists who examine language, expectations, overlooked stories and family archives to illuminate the fears and struggles that come with forming a new home.

The paintings of Susie Raz chronicle the story of the artist’s family, impacted by war and persecution in Europe during World War ll.

In 2020, Susie was one of six artists featured by Nillumbik Council for their International Women’s Day celebrations and exhibited at the Eltham Library Community Gallery. In 2020-21 Susie was a recipient of an Annual Arts and Culture Grant, through the Nillumbik Council for her current project titled For the one whose voice was silenced, also set to be featured in Between Worlds.

Exhibition Between Worlds. Pic supplied

This series of paintings depicts the story of her family as war refugees and will take place in October 2022 at Montsalvat.

Andres Murcia’s collages interrogate the peculiarities of English expressions, identifying the barriers that come with learning a new language. In Between Worlds, Andres expresses his adventure as a migrant and how learning English has been a complex process in his life: “Learning a language is not only articulating sounds that mean something, it is necessary to feel and involve emotions when expressing a word,” Andres explains.

In his first three figurative-symbolic collages he wants to show the transition of his life as a migrant: The departure, the door to a new world and the observation of that new world.

The mixed media works of Heather Felix, Simone Schroeder and Rod Ceballos celebrate community relationships and deconstruct themes of identity, belonging and bias.

Rod Ceballos is a Melbourne-based photographer, educator and story collector. His contribution to Between Worlds is titled Conjetura, and presents a mix of portraits and voices, opinions and incomplete information of people who have migrated to Australia. Rod explains: “Conjetura is an impossible puzzle that reveals what unites us, as confronts the unconscious biases of whoever seeks to solve it.”

Between Worlds offers a window into the complex myriad of experiences held by migrants in the Boroondara community and beyond. This exhibition is proudly hosted by Boroondara Arts to coincide with and celebrate Harmony Week.

Town Hall Gallery features a diverse range of contemporary public programs, curated exhibitions and exhibitions drawn from the Town Hall Gallery Collection, celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the City of Boroondara. A member of the Public Galleries Association of Victoria, Town Hall Gallery supports local, national and international artists at varying stages of their careers and offers a space for local artists and community groups to exhibit professionally in a gallery environment. Town Hall Gallery is now open to the public with a COVIDSafe Plan in place.

For the latest information and opening hours, visit

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