Thursday, May 7, 2015
RealAustraliansSayWelcome: Artist Peter Drew takes poster project supporting asylum seekers across country
Jason OmLateline ABC May 5, 2015
Video: Artist takes Real Australians Say Welcome project on the road (Lateline)
Photo: Peter Drew has taken his campaign to Sydney (above), Melbourne, Adelaide and parts of the NT. (Lateline: Jason Om)
He has been verballed, yelled at and chased down the street, but the artist behind a poster project supporting asylum seekers says that is part of the fun.
Peter Drew has embarked on a three-month road trip around Australia, putting up 1,000 posters declaring ‘Real Australians Say Welcome’.
‘It is slightly tongue-in-cheek. I think what is a real Australian is completely up for discussion,’ Mr Drew told Lateline.
He said the message was inspired by the second verse of the Australian anthem: ‘With courage let us all combine to Advance Australia Fair.’
‘That's what I mean [by] being a real Australian, is having that courage,’ Mr Drew said.
While pasting the posters on buildings, walls and hoardings, Mr Drew has experienced the highly charged nature of the debate directly from passers-by.
Photo: Mr Drew has experienced the highly charged nature of the debate surrounding asylum seekers during his talks with passers-by. (Lateline: Jason Om)
‘The conflict scares me because some people are really angry,’ he said.
Mr Drew said he usually tries to reason with people but it does not always work.
‘There was one man on the very first day who began the conversation by shouting at me. I started to walk away and he started to chase me,’ he said.
The posters began appearing, coincidentally, a week after the anti-Islam protests by Reclaim Australia.
When asked whether he thought people who disagreed with his message were not real Australians or un-Australian, Mr Drew said the project was deliberately provocative.
‘Because that's the argument put forward by the other side, by the ultra-nationalists, and I wanted to make them see how it feels,’ he said.
The posters were crowdfunded by donations and have already been pasted on buildings in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and parts of the Northern Territory.
Mr Drew is currently in Perth and will travel to Brisbane, Hobart, Launceston and finally Canberra.
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Other artists and ordinary Australians have reacted to Mr Drew's project with their own versions of his message on social media.
Lucy Feagins from the Design Files website was inspired by the posters and asked the site's 127,000 Instagram followers to respond.
She was overwhelmed by the contributions.
‘I just couldn't keep up,’ she said.
‘We started reposting every single one but it ended up being what I thought was the most interesting.’
Watch the story on Lateline tonight at 9:30pm (AEST) on ABC News 24 and 10:30pm (local time) on ABC TV.
Read more, view artwork and watch video http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-05/artist-takes-real-australians-say-welcome-poster-project-on-road/6446702