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Adelaide visual artist challenges Australians to rethink their stance on immigration

Wednesday, 01 April 2015

An Adelaide visual artist will put up 1,000 posters in Australia's capital cities in an attempt to make residents rethink their stance on immigration.

Peter Drew's 'Real Australians Say Welcome' project has received more than $8,000 in crowd-funding from almost 300 supporters.

"The project was inspired by our national anthem and specifically the lines that are in the second verse," Mr Drew said.

Working on the revised version of Peter Dodds McCormick's 1879 lyrics that became Australia's national anthem in 1984, Mr Drew refers to the lines "For those who've come across the seas / We've boundless plains to share / With courage let us all combine / To advance Australia fair".

 The original 1879 lyrics from McCormick's five verses read "For loyal sons beyond the seas, we've boundless plains to share," but were changed for a two-verse Federation performance in 1901 and kept for the 1984 anthem version.

"That shows some forethought from the people that were writing what is meant to be our song," Mr Drew said.

The task to place 1,000 posters up around the capital city areas of Australia seemed a visual way for Mr Drew to challenge perceptions, and he said the task paled into insignificance compared to what asylum seekers faced.

"The asylum seekers I have met are terrific people and the thought that they are just being used as political expediency is really upsetting," he said.

Mr Drew hoped that by reconnecting people with the second verse of the national anthem, he could change the thoughts of people-smuggling and terrorism to more of a conversation about what these people may be fleeing from.

"The truth is it is essentially about fear, a base fear in the electorate of people who seem different," he said.

By placing posters on walls through cities, Mr Drew said he was aware of differing bylaws that deem the practice illegal and would work with property owners to ensure the posters were not placed in areas they were not wanted.

"You just need to take each wall as it is and find the places where the property owners don't mind," he said.

 Mr Drew will commence his national poster campaign in Sydney on Easter Sunday and hopes viewers may rethink their opinion on asylum seekers with the lines from the second verse of the national anthem in mind.

"It is a part of our national identity to have courage," he said.

"What's courage for – unless it is for that day-to-day interaction of seeing people who seem a little bit different and having the courage to welcome them?"

Source: ABC News

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