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Byron Shire
October 18, 2021

Lennox’s Angus paints Behrouz for Archibald

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Angus McDonald puts the finishing touches on his portrait of Behrouz Boochani. Photo supplied.

Lennox Head artist Angus McDonald has submitted his portrait of the author and activist Behrouz Boochani to the prestigious 2020 Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Since 2009, Mr McDonald is a five-times finalist in the Archibald Prize, Australia’s biggest art competition.

On Twitter (@angusmcz) he said, ‘Thank you ALL for the huge response to the image I tweeted of Behrouz’s painting. Blown away.

The portrait arrives at the AGNSW packers room. Photo supplied.

‘Whatever happens, I was privileged to stay five days in NZ with this courageous, talented & beautiful man who embarrassed me with his hospitality & kindness. It’s an honour to paint him.’

Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian journalist who was held in the Manus Island Detention centre in Papua New Guinea from 2013 until 2017, where he wrote his celebrated memoir No Friend But the Mountains and smuggled it out via text messages.

The book has since won multiple awards. Mr Boochani appeared from detention via Skype to promote the book at the last Byron Writers Festival.

Mr Boochani has recently been granted permanent asylum in New Zealand. ‘I look at it as an end of a chapter of my life and I feel happy because I have certainty for my future,’ he said last month.

‘But on the other side it’s extremely difficult because still this policy exists and still people are living in detention in Australia, in Port Moresby and Nauru and still the Australian Government continues with this policy of torturing people.’

Lennox Heads artist and film-maker Angus McDonald. Photo supplied.

About the artist

Angus McDonald studied painting at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney, and then at the Florence Academy of Art in Italy.

Since 1995 he’s held more than 30 solo exhibitions in Australia and overseas.

Mr McDonald was most recently a finalist in the Archibalds with his portrait of inclusion and diversity campaigner Mariam Veiszadeh.

He has a keen interest in human rights issues, and his recent short film Manus won a number of prizes including Best Byron Film at the 2019 Byron Bay International Film Festival.

The 2020 Archibald finalists will be announced soon.

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  1. Why do you continue to worship this illegal maritime arrival to Australia …? If you had ever worked on Manus like many of us had, you would completely reject Boochani’s claims of ‘prison’ and ‘torture’.

    • Firstly, I think “worship” is the wrong word, the simple word respect being more applicable. But the simple answer to your question is … because he is a caring, compassionate, talented human being, who has touched many lives with his writing and film-making, whilst witnessing and exposing the suffering in these supposed “humane” detention camps. Whether you call him illegal or not, (you may need to check that, because as a refugee, no matter how he arrives, he is not illegal) he is a great example of humanity.

  2. Anyone locked up for more than five years, without trial, is being tortured. End of story.
    He committed NO crime, has not been convicted of any crime or charged with any crime.

  3. The illegality with respect to the refugees interned on Nauru and Manus Island is in the actions of the Australian government. These camps were declared illegal in international law by the United Nations, a declaration followed by the legal system in Papua New Guinea, That illegality is why the camp on Manus was closed down in 2017, with an absolute media ban.
    Boochani, like most of those originally detained on Manus and Nauru, has been found to be a genuine refugee. The Australian Government, and by extension rather too many Australian citizens, perhaps includung Ms Smith above, has behaved as if refugees are guilty until proved innocent, in direct contravention of the laws of this land. It should be called to account in the international criminal court in The Hague.
    That is not a partisan statement. Although the policy of off-shore detention was implemented by the Coalition government in 2013, Labor has been complicit in supporting it.
    Fear and cowardice have driven these deeply inhumane, criminal actions.

  4. OMG Ms SMITH PLEASE LEAVE OUR REGION….I totally agree with all the other intelligent /sensible and compassionate comments. Mr Boochani deserved OUR protection but didn’t get it. He was in grave fear of being killed & had no other options. HE IS A GENUINE REFUGEE & our Govts appalling attitude is in contravention of all & sundry Human Rights Charters internationally. I followed Mr Boochani’s experiences whilst on Manus via the Byron Writers Festival & what a wonderful & kind man he is. So happy & relieved that the compassionate NZ Gov t(unlike ours) gave him the sanctuary he was so deserving of. Stay safe Mr Boochani and have a extraordinary life…you deserve that , to say the least.

  5. WOW Angus, that is such an amazing painting and a great choice to. It’s going to create a bit of a storm when your shortlisted for the finals and the invitation goes out to Mr Boochani to attend.

    All the best, your work is incredible!!!!


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