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QVMAG Looking for Paradise exhibition

Dana Anderson, Looking for Paradise is on show at QVMAG, The Examiner, 29 March 2021

Not all exhibitions depict beautiful landscapes or native wildlife but instead choose to use the platform to tackle societal problems and political issues. Looking for Paradise is an example of that.

The exhibition, on show at the Inveresk site of the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, makes a political statement on migration to Australia.

The collection of work also highlights Australia’s responsibility as a first signatory of the United Nations Human Rights Charter.

More than 12 handmade and bound books by artist Nathalie Hartog-Gautier tell the stories of migrants to viewers.

Present and past policies that Australian governments have implemented on the topic are shown too.

“Why do we keep demonising refugees? Why are they on the fringe of society? I was trying to find an answer and I haven’t found [one], so I expressed my frustration,” Hartog-Gautier said.

The artist hoped people would walk away from the exhibition feeling like they would want to take action or help organisations assisting refugees.

“I’m happy with the result and hopefully I can start a conversation with the viewer,” she said. “Hopefully the image is strong enough.”

See the exhibition video here.

Video production company Broken Yellow collaborated with Hartog-Gautier to bring her image to life.

Executive producer of Broken Yellow Navid Bahadori said the artist had reached out to them to collaborate, and talks between the two took about nine months.

Mr Bahadori said he was of a migrant background and connected to the broader story and narrative of the work.

“Wherever you sit on that issue or debate, it’s something we all need to understand that these are issues but there are people [at the centre of this too],” he said.

The two-minute video uses the voices of real people seeking asylum to read The Universal Declaration of Human Rights while exploring the notion of pursuing Australia as a paradise.

Mr Bahadori said he was sensitive about the style of animation used, as he didn’t want it to come off cartoon-like.

Looking for Paradise will be on display until May 19. For more information visit

An artist talk will be held on March 27, at 2pm in the Community Gallery at the Inveresk museum.