Curators of the Bendigo Art Gallery’s newest exhibition hope that it creates discussion.
Another Day In Paradise features paintings by convicted drug trafficker Myuran Sukumaran.
The works were created while Mr Sukumaran was incarcerated in Bali’s Kerobokan Prison and Nusa Kambangan Island in the three days before his execution in 2015.
Bendigo Art Gallery curatorial manager Tansy Curtin said the exhibition featured a body of work that told an evocative story.
“The body of work in here is incredible but the story is also incredible and powerful,” she said.
“Telling those sorts of stories through the arts is part of what we do. Art galleries and spaces are a great places for conversation – and often important conversations – that we need to have.”
Australian artist Ben Quilty curated the exhibition with Michael Dagostino in the Campbelltown Arts Centre.
The exhibition also includes newly-commissioned artworks by Australian artists that explore Mr Sukumaran’s life and practice, the nature of incarceration and the death penalty.
It has been shown in Sydney and Canberra before arriving in Bendigo.
“The reception (in Sydney and Canberra) has been fantastic. We were worried some of the angry, dissenting voices would come out but it's been overwhelmingly positive,” Mr Quilty said.
Jessica Bridgfoot, curator at the Bendigo Art Gallery, said she only knew Myuran Sukumaran through news reports.
“I knew him as other people did. He was a convicted drug smuggler who was in a Bali prison,” she said.
“What I knew was the media hype of the Bali 9, that story and the harrowing time he spent on death row.
“What the show has done, is open up the human side of Myuran Sukumaran. Art, as a medium, has the force and power to be able to do that.
“That's an important aspect of what we want to communicate at the gallery.”
Mr Quilty worked with Mr Sukumaran in the last three years of the prisoner’s life.
“(Leading up to his execution in 2015) I could feel the community swing around to be behind him,” he said.
“There were still people who though he deserved what was coming to him, I hope they come and look.
Mr Quilty hoped people would come to consider the artwork as well as the story behind it.
“It's not a celebration of a drug dealer's life. It's a warning to young men and a celebration of creativity,” he said.
“Creativity is not owned by the elite – anyone can do it – and if they're in prison its all the more reason to make and create.”
Another Day in Paradise is at the Bendigo Art Gallery from July 7 to September 16.