The Whirling
Presented by Melbourne Artists for Asylum Seekers

Wed 24 Jan 18, 6.30pm–7.30pm

Past program

Free entry

NGV International

Clemenger BBDO Auditorium
Ground Level

Booked out

How can art inspire the community to take action and create meaningful change? Artists from around the world share their thoughts on the power of art in a series of personal stories and poetry.

Melbourne Artists for Asylum Seekers (MAFA) is a group of volunteers dedicated to hosting quality art workshops for Asylum Seekers both inside and outside of detention. The group aims to use art to raise awareness of the lives and talents of asylum seekers across the wider Australian community.

This is an Auslan interpreted program.


Dr Margaret Mayhew is a Melbourne based design lecturer, visual artist and performer. She has participated in community cultural development with refugee communities for 25 years and is a founding member of Melbourne Artists for Asylum Seekers.

Marcus Ferguson graduated with a Fine Arts Degree in 1976, and shortly afterwards took a cultural exchange program to South America, where he lectured and exhibited. Marcus has exhibited art works in South America, Japan, New Zealand the US and in Galleries in Australia. He has worked for many years with people with disabilities and also as an Activities Officer at the Broadmeadows Detention Centre. He aims to inspire people to express themselves through their art, facilitated art workshops and exhibitions of their work.

Sriharan Ganeshan was a journalist in Sri Lanka before migrating to Australia in 2008. After spending six years in detention he is now living in Melbourne. His writing has been published in Overland, Perilmag, Writing Through Fences, the Key of Sea Journal and Writing From Below.

Leila Ashtiani is originally from Iran and made the difficult journey to Australia in 2013. Leila is from the Zoroastrian faith, a persecuted minority in Iran. Leila owned a contemporary gallery in Tehran and was a professional artist. Art was her life but there were severe restrictions on what she could paint. Any depictions of women or anything perceived as political would put her life in danger, hence the decision to move to Australia. Once she was released into the Australian community (community detention), she volunteered to teach art class in the Detention Centre with MAFA.

Samaneh Malekshahi arrived in Australia in 2009 with her husband from Ahwaz, Iran. Samaneh enjoys art and creativity. When she was 10, she became interested in her surroundings and the social problems around her. Samaneh started writing about her country, exploring issues of injustice and inequality. She also explored the world of poetry and short stories. Her artwork focuses on exploration of light and colour, as well as social issues. Samaneh is now studying an Advanced Diploma of Fine Arts in Melbourne.

Azizeh Astaneh is an artist, former art critic and an asylum seeker living in Melbourne. She is the founding president of Melbourne Artists For Asylum Seekers. Since 2014 she has curated art exhibitions featuring works by detained and community-based asylum seekers and artists living in Melbourne. She is now studying an Advanced Diploma in Engineering Technology – Electrical at Victoria University and works as a freelance graphic designer in Melbourne.

Molly George is a Melbourne based visual artist, stop motion animator, podcaster and community radio enthusiast. She is passionate about using creativity in various mediums to bring people together and is a founding member of Melbourne Artists for Asylum Seekers.

NGV Triennial NGV International

Supported by program patrons Maureen Wheeler AO and Tony Wheeler AO.