Witnessing how art can transform lives

By Milie MacCallum, Year 11 Visual Arts studentMillie at the exhibition

On walking in to Another Day in Paradise at Tuggeranong Arts Centre, my first reaction was to see the reflection of Myuran Sukumaran’s despair or hope.

As I moved around the many works on display, I wanted to do some further research and reading.

Myuran Sukumaran is a symbol of rehabilitation and transformation; 'Come away from the dark side and step into the light' (Myuran Sukumaran, Another Day in Paradise, catalogue, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Page 10).

Another Day in Paradise presented sombre and compelling artworks that strongly provoked the moral evil of the death penalty and the ideas of redemption and rehabilitation. Each portrait gave a face to the judicially wronged. The knowledge of ones’s own death is a strange concept to consider, and furthermore the remorse of previous actions. Another Day in Paradise recounts the story of an Australian man (Myuran Sukumaran) caught for his wrongs (drug smuggling in Indonesia), desperately seeking redemption and a legacy, described by Jonathon Jones as two words; “Remember Me”. (Sydney Morning Herald 2015) 

The placement of portrait paintings by Myuran Sukumaran of political leaders (Australian and Indonesian), fellow inmates and the Bali Nine are hung in the gallery at a consistent mid-height level. This emphasises that all people involved in his story are equal at the core. Everyone is only human.

Furthermore, commissioned artist, Megan Cope's intriguing contemporary barracoon bamboo structure at the centre of the room visually overlays bars in front of each portrait when viewed from different perspectives, exaggerating the idea of equity and also showing that everyone is confined, in some aspect. Politicians are confined to their judgments, prisoners to their crimes and the Bali Nine to their reputation. It is clear that Myuran Sukumaran yearned for redemption and was trying to communicate his rehabilitation through art.Students viewing the works

Another Day in Paradise raised ethical questions. Is the death penalty morally right? Should the Indonesian government focus on redemption and rehabilitation rather than punishment? 

The exhibition provokes a strong condemnation of the death penalty and the government's inability for redemption. The exhibition doesn't request pity or consider if Myuran Sukumaran is a good artist (mentored by Ben Quilty); it is simply a compelling and vivid reminder of the government's ability to extinguish human life through the death penalty. It is a cry against the monstrosities of humanity.

Tuggeranong Arts Centre presents Another Day in Paradise, a major exhibition by artist Myuran Sukumaran along with a series of artworks by leading Australian artists, Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Megan Cope, Jagath Dheerasekara, Khaled Sabsabi, and Matthew Sleeth, whose works respond to the death penalty and profile human rights. The free exhibition closes on 29 April 2018.


See also Father Richard's reflection which discusses issues raised by the exhibition.

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