March 06, 2014
‘Ajai’, by a 16-year-old asylum seeker, captured hearts to claim the RACT Insurance Tasmanian Portraiture Prize People’s Choice Award.
A SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD asylum seeker has won this year’s RACT Insurance Tasmanian Portraiture Prize People’s Choice Award.
Murtazza, whose last name cannot be used, drew his winning piece, Ajai, while at the Pontville Detention Centre.
The subject is a kindly woman from a library who made him feel welcome in Australia.
“I’m a 16-year-old boy living without my mother and my family,” his artist statement said.
“I can say I came to Australia by boat in a very dangerous condition. From the first time, from when I put my foot in the door, I felt alone.”
The woman he described as having a “great heart” said he could call her Ajai, or grandmother in Hazaragi.
“From here I understood how the Tasmanian people have great hearts,” he said.
“That they can accept another name which is not from their language, they think widely.”
Ajai received 275 votes and Murtazza said the $500 prizemoney would go towards taking art classes.
The RACT Tasmanian Portraiture Prize received more than 70 entries.The overall winner was Alex Davern, runner-up Nik Lee, and sponsors’ choice Emily Blom.