Guan Wei 'The Journey to Australia' 2013

The Journey to Australia (2013) is a wall painting by artist Guan Wei and the second work commissioned for the MCA’s Circular Quay entrance. The painting is inspired by current debates about immigration and refugees in Australia; in particular the heated commentary that often surrounds the arrival of people to this country by boat. As the artist says:

'I have observed that much of our daily news is filled with stories of refugee ships arriving in Australian waters… As an Australian immigrant and as an artist, I am able to not only identify with but also to help relate and bear witness to [the refugees] solemn, stirring and tragic story…’

Combining imagery from mythology, fantasy, history and the present day, The Journey to Australia depicts a fleet of refugee boats heading towards Australian shores. The work references the location of the MCA at the site where the British first came ashore on Gadigal land in 1788. As Guan Wei points out:

'From a historical point of view, the MCA’s location at Circular Quay is a place where, in the past, many immigrants have landed – a place which links the past with the present, you with me, and Australia with the world.’

All images: Guan Wei, The Journey to Australia 2013, installation view, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, synthetic polymer paint on wall, commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, 2013, images courtesy and copyright the artist, photography: Alex Davies

Paul Power on The Journey to Australia

Paul Power, CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia, discusses the refugee situation in Australia – one of the inspirations for Guan Wei’s building commission.