Law Week could have been marked with an art exhibition in a gallery with a theme like ‘justice’ and a tortured selection of art trying to fit this Procrustean bed. Instead there is ‘Passion’ a group exhibition, curated by Catherine Connolly, with a simple but effective concept. The exhibition matches seven artists with seven notable legal professionals. And instead of a gallery the exhibition is located in foyer of Bourke Place, the work place of many lawyers.
The contact between artists from a range of cultures (the exhibition is produced by Multicultural Arts Victoria) and legal professionals and the results of their interaction with the artists is at the heart of this exhibition. Legal professionals are frequently frustrated artists; most that I’ve met are artistic in some way. This should not be surprising as both legal professionals and artists are skilled communicators; one is skilled in English and the other in visual images.
The matching of legal professionals and artists for the exhibition was well managed. Naeem Rana wanted to work with Julian Burnside because of shared interests. One the artists, Mitra Malekzadeh, was originally represented by lawyer, David Allen, when she first came to Australia and so choose to work with him and photograph him. In the exhibition the art reflects the ‘passions’ of the artists and the legal professionals. Many of the artists produced portraits of the legal professional and their passions, like Andrea Draper’s cool portrait of Justice Lex Lasry playing the drums. Sutueal Bekele Althe painted a more traditional, although still informal, portrait of Judge Felicity Hampel. Other artists had common interests with the legal professional like Naeem Rana and Julian Burnside’s shared interest in human rights, especially the plight of the Bakhtyari family. Rana quoted Burnside’s book From Nothing to Zero with the title of his work “We Love To Hate”. Yorta Yorta artist, Lyn Thorpe and lawyer, Clint Lingard’s share interest in aboriginal rights. Thorpe expresses this with a banner celebrating the Aboriginal dance troupe, Koori Youth Will Shake Spears.