The HOME Exhibition run by the City of Greater Dandenong in Victoria aims to showcase and support the work of artists from a refugee background or those seeking asylum. The exhibition explores the theme of home and what it means for those who’ve had to create new lives for themselves.

This year we had a chance to speak with Mirela Cufurovic, one of the featured artists and also a 2019 finalist for the Australian Muslim Artists Prize.

What inspires you? How do you channel your inspiration into your artwork?

Mirela: I am deeply inspired by talented artists like Amani Haydar, Laura Horn, CJ Hendry and Polina Bright. All four artists have different approaches and it’s all their various elements, combined, that I love.

Although I am a watercolour artist, I am really hoping to branch out by exploring other mediums to help inspire and drive my art process. But in terms of what defines my current art practice, I’d say its faith and my identity as a Bosnian Muslim survivor of the Bosnian war.

I channel my inspiration by incorporating symbolic meaning into my work. For example, in my HOME artwork, Serdžada (Prayer Mat), the rumpled centre pays tribute to the crocheted flower that is used as a sign of remembrance of the genocide that took place in Srebrenica on 11 July 1995, during the Bosnian war.

The colour of the prayer mat symbolises Bosniak Muslim identity and the hope Bosnians hold for their future as refugees in new places they’ve now learnt to call ‘home’. In other works, I may just turn to faith, as I did in my artwork titled ‘ihsan (Excellence in Faith).

Where do you feel most at Home?

Mirela: I feel most at home when I’m in tune with my faith. It proves the guidance I need and the sense of belonging that cannot be found elsewhere. Having said that, I do find my ‘home’ within Australia, even though I have a strong connection with my identity as a Bosnian Muslim.

Australia has and always will be the ‘home’ I feel most comfortable with. Because of this, I have always strived hard to aim high in order to give back to the community. I do this partly with my art practice and partly with my career as a researcher delving into the issues that affect Australian Muslim youth in Australia today.

As the Australian Muslim Artists Art Prize finalist in 2019 do you have any advice for up and coming artists?

Mirela: Don’t be afraid to embrace change within your art practice. After many years of experimenting, defining and redefining my art practice, and exploring new themes, I’ve finally found my own ‘voice’.

I’ve found something is not only meaningful to me, but that may resonate with many other people who relate to faith, being a minority, or those who are forging new paths and new lives in a foreign place they’ve now learnt to ‘home’.

Challenge yourself and don’t be afraid to be inspired by other artists. Sometimes you need to lean on someone else in order to develop your own unique style and art practice. Just keep creating!

To View Mirela’s works or the HOME exhibition visit: https://greaterdandenong.com/home