Refugee Artist Development Program
Creative Development Program
The Refugee Artist Development Program supports newly arrived creatives from refugee backgrounds to navigate the creative industries in NSW. It focuses on development on new work, mentorship, employment and/or education.
Over 2022, we had the pleasure of working with a diverse group of talented artists working across a range of forms, including filmmaking, visual arts, performance and writing. Each artist was mentored by one of CuriousWorks senior team members, with external mentors also engaged where specific skills have been needed. Over the 12 months, each artist prepared an artwork or a snippet of their work in development for presentation at our Urban Stories event, all of which were highly received by audiences present.
Participants of the program were also invited to masterclasses and opportunities for paid work on our Social Enterprise Program, providing paired mentorship and on the job training in the sector. Here is a quote from one of the 2022 artists:
“Meetings with my mentors Miranda and Andrea have helped me understand how to navigate my artistic practice here. They have also opened me up to new resources and helped me build new connections, which has been very helpful.
The guidance and support provided by my mentors have encouraged me to experiment, provided new and useful resources, and connected me with the artistic community. These meetings have also kept me connected with my work, encouraged me to plan for future development, and provided a platform for me to share my work with a wider audience, alongside other talented artists that I have gotten to know and collaborate with through this program.”
Adeeb Razzouk, Refugee Artist Development Participant
In June 2023, artists from this program as well as artists from Stories of Welcome travelled across Australia for the Homelands Tour, in partnership with Settlement Services Australia (SSI). Artists Ali Rezvani, Adeeb Razzouk and Smitha Peter all showcased work across the regional arts tour. You can see photos and learn more about the tour here.
In January 2024, artists Ali Rezvani, Leila Beigli and Khishkok Abdo will be showcasing work at the Australian Maritime Museum for the New Beginnings Festival, presented by SSI. You can read more about the festival and their work here.
MEET THE ARTISTS
Meet our current and previous artist participants
Adeeb Razzouk is a multi-disciplinary artist, youth arts worker and emerging intimacy coordinator working on the traditional land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, Sydney. Growing up in Aleppo, Syria nurtured his curiosity to discover storytelling mediums using art and technology.
In 2023, Adeeb was one of the PACT Artists-in-Residency. He used the residency to further develop Papers from the High Castle, an interactive immersive performance using light as a poetic storytelling tool.
Across 2022-2023, Adeeb was also a mentor with the Stories of Welcome program at Coffs Harbour. His work was showcased as part of the Homelands 2023 tour with SSI, travelling to Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre (BEMAC), Home of Arts (HOTA), Aquarius Arcade, King Tide Brewery, Newcastle Museum, and University of Newcastle.
Ali Rezvani is a Sydney based independent filmmaker with a passion for stories that inspire curiosity. He was born in 1987 in Iran and moved to Sydney in 2020. Ali has 10+ years’ experience in the Film Industry, working across multiple roles including DOP, director, producer and post production. His work draws upon a range of artworks and literary writing to communicate the complexities of human relationships and experiences through simple yet nuanced visual language.
At the end of 2022, Ali was accepted into the AFTRS Master in Cinematography. Across 2022-2023, Ali was also a mentor with the Stories of Welcome program at Coffs Harbour. His work was showcased as part of the Homelands 2023 tour with SSI, travelling to Brisbane Multicultural Arts Centre (BEMAC), Home of Arts (HOTA), Aquarius Arcade, King Tide Brewery, Newcastle Museum, and University of Newcastle.
Since my early years, I’ve been deeply passionate about drawing, painting, and digital art. I found joy in collecting and preserving small art pieces, with a particular fondness for depicting nature and portraits. Growing up in northern Iraq, Kurdistan, I faced limited support and opportunities to nurture my artistic vision. Unfortunately, my country was plagued by persecution, resulting in the loss of lives, forced displacement, and shattered communities.
Within these communities, deaf individuals are often dismissed and denied access to education and support. It is my aspiration to challenge this perception and contribute to changing the narrative, not only for my own community but for others as well. Luckily, my family was granted a humanitarian visa to move to Australia, driven by the dangerous circumstances we faced, particularly as deaf women. This decision was made alongside my three deaf sisters, seeking safety and new opportunities.
Back in my home country, I never had the chance to learn sign language, and instead, I was expected to rely on lipreading. This posed a significant challenge, as I had no deaf peers in my community. My older sister, who has been profoundly deaf since childhood, was unjustly denied access to education due to her deafness.
Now, residing in Australia, I have been able to explore a range of hobbies and delve into new areas of interest. Drawing and sketching have always held a special place in my heart. Additionally, I have recently embarked on a journey of exploring photography, which has provided me with a fresh avenue for self-expression.
Leila Beigli is Sydney-based visual artist and painter born in Iran. Her work invites conversation on global human and women’s rights drawing from her lived experience as a refugee. Her most notable work Offshore depicts the plight of children trapped in the Nauru detention center which gained national attention in federal parliament. In 2023, she was shortlisted as a finalist for the Gosford Art Prize, and her works have been shown at FirstDraft, Chrissie Cotter Gallery, and the Refugee Welcome Centre.
Fatemah Ibrahim Habibi
Fatemeh Ibrahim Habibi was born in Iran and is now based in Sydney.
She is a visual artist and painter whose work explores concepts of the freedom of women in Iran. Her work Iran Tiger in Chains was shortlisted for the Heartlands Refugee Art Prize.
Her artwork can be seen at the top of the program page, from when the artwork was displayed at Blacktown Art Centre as part of Urban Stories: En Route.
Program Producer: Andrea Lim
Participants: Adeeb Razzouk, Ali Rezvani, Fatemeh Habibi, Smitha Peter, Furqan Farttoosi, Khishkok Abdo, Leila Beigli
The Refugee Artist Development Program is supported by the Scanlon Foundation.