Afra Akbari, Warm Reception, 2023, Salty Creek Festival
Warm Reception is a larger-than-life sculptural installation of two hands reaching out to grasp each other. They were constructed over several weeks using recycled wood, cardboard, cloth, and a papier-mâché technique.
Arriving in Australia as a refugee in 2015 was initially an intimidating experience. I wondered whether I would ever find my place and be accepted there. The inspiration for this piece comes from a moment in my first, tumultuous week in Salty Creek, when a community elder grasped my hand between hers and spoke to me. I struggled to understand her words, but I could feel the warmth of them through her touch, and it gave me a sense of comfort. From that moment on, Salty Creek has become a home which has welcomed me and my family and enveloped us into the community.
I wanted to create a piece which would show how I feel about the community that embraced me. Grasped hands are universally understood to represent assistance, comfort, friendship, and connection.
I hope this installation will become the heart of the festival, a place for the people of Salty Creek to meet their family and friends, interact with the installation, take photos, and feel the warmth of the community.
©Copyright Afra Akbari