About Bukjeh

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In collaboration with refugee, asylum seeker and migrant artists from Australia and around the world who are, Bukjeh is a creative exploration of being forced to leave one’s home.

It is a participatory community art project, which connects people and builds long term relationships towards greater social cohesion.In order to connect communities, deeply and for long periods, we created Bukjeh as a transformative interactive experience with art, music and storytelling at its heart. As a tailored intercultural program, Bukjeh links those who have been displaced with a team of talented artists to create a touching and transformational experience for every audience member.

Bukjeh is honest, powerful and truly inclusive. Bukjeh connects people of all ages and backgrounds.

The aim of Bukjeh is to empower people who might feel excluded from the conversation about the reasons and impacts of global displacement because they do not know the ‘right’ questions to ask, or due to fear of saying the ‘wrong thing’.

Bukjeh initiates a truly meaningful and personal connection between those who have been forced to leave their home and those who have not had these experiences.

Conversations happen between grandchildren and their elders, bringing to life those stories that we want to remember and record with those we love, forming deeper connections during self-isolation.


Why Bukjeh?

This project puts new and diverse communities and their stories front and centre for us all to share. The refugee storytellers are new to Australia, or have been here for a long time, unfamiliar with the Australian mainstream, or perhaps they have chosen to live their lives as if they were still in their homeland, some of who are involved in arts and culture projects and for some, this is their very first adventure in the arts.Importantly, they will be the authors and leaders of their own story, they will choose which story to tell and why and express it in the manner of their choosing– as well as bringing their own diverse backgrounds, they bring a diverse range of forms to the storytelling, that may include any variety of diverse elements from their culture, including spoken word, music, songs, visual arts and language.In Bukjeh, participants’ stories are not filtered or delivered by anyone other than than the particpants. We will not dictate to the storyteller the manner of delivery (for example, English language) of which they are not in control, the project allows different expression in different language, even the unspoken languages of objects and craft. Bukjeh seeks to illicit the innocent curiosity of youth. Inviting children to ask questions, giving visitors permission to ask the questions which they might have been previously intimidated to ask. This will empower people who might have felt outside the debate because they don’t know the “right” answers or fear insult. Bukjeh will create a safe space during both the workshops and exhibition time. Bukjeh is about shared participation, connecting two halves of a discussion, at the personal level. So as well as engaging new audiences and new participants in arts and culture, it initiates a truly meaningful and personal, shared, participation, that will have a real and immediate impact on the wider culture of the city.Using children’s interviews as the starting point for the discussion gives agency to young people, respecting their opinions and questions. By exposing a new audience to these stories and by engaging schools in the process we will involve audiences in a new and empowering experience. Bukjeh is revealing a narrative to an audience that might otherwise never get to a museum or venue for the arts and culture. The audience that has never interacted with a refuge or might be opposed to the idea of dialogue, Bukjeh will involve them in arts and culture and expose them to the potential of and importance of being involved in such important projects.


Aseel Tayah


Aseel is an important voice in the Australian cultural landscape. As a Palestinian artist/activist, Aseel has been instrumental in using her cultural

practice to shed light on the experiences of those living in war-torn countries and conditions. She is a fierce and compassionate advocate for humanity,

and for humans to deal with each other with dignity, kindness and respect. Aseel is a prolific art maker, drawing diverse participants into her orbit through

the courage of her convictions and the power of her stories. Aseel is a highly capable project manager, overseeing culturally complex and sensitive

processes with care, intellect and rigour.

Since arriving in Melbourne, Aseel has been an unstoppable force in the cultural landscape. She has created numerous new works such as Bukjeh and

Lullabies Under the Stars, inviting communities into the experience of asylum seekers and refugees, through deeply personal and transformational multiart

engagements. She has built partnerships with key cultural organisations such as Arts Centre Melbourne, Polyglot, Arts House, Arts Front and

Multicultural Arts Victoria (to name only a few). She is a highly sought after speaker on the subject of cultural rights, and the role of the arts in building

social cohesion and harmony. Her work demonstrates a criticality that is much needed in a predominantly white arts sector, towards cultural equity

Aseel shows an unparalleled commitment to her craft. She eats, sleeps and breathes community arts and cultural development practice as a life force,

not only for her, but for the vulnerable communities she engages and supports. Aseel has incredible stamina for transformation, is undaunted by barriers,

and prolific in making the case for a more diverse arts sector. I rarely come across people whose passion for change is so palpable and convincing.

What's more, Aseel does not seek to advantage herself through her endeavour but advance all she encounters and works with.


Bukjeh Project is a virtual swag of real, intimate and touching stories.

Bukjey is a symbol of belonging and a physical manifestation shared by people who have chosen new places that they now call home, often very far away from where they used to live.It is a gallery that shares insights into the suite-cases, swags and pockets of people who were not born on the same land on which they now live.

The gallery shares their feelings, their memories and stories; why they were afraid, shy or sad. The barriers they faced as they wished to share their stories upon arrival. Their desire to be accepted but their need to communicate tell their personal narrativeOur stories define us and they make us unique. The testimony of the displaced in this ever changing world is one worth documenting and sharing with this and future generations.Since 2017, Bukjeh has been delivering a series of performances created with people who have been forced to leave their homes, set in a disaster relief tent. The project always starts with children in schools, who are curious about their environment and have innocent questions about people who they see in the streets. Those questions are a tool to connect members of the community. Artists respond through workshops we deliver, delving into their unique details of life, within the three themes the project:Bukjeh is the sack of belongings, people take with them in a rush when they have to leave.Rehle is the journey of hardship people go through until they settle in a place they call home.Khieme is the temporary or permanent homes people find themselves in during their journey.

Meet our team

Toby Sullivan

Business Manager

Justyn Koh

Educational advisor

Mahmoud A. Rabo
Mahmoud A. Rabo

Chief Technology Officer (CTO)

Ez Eldin Deng

Film Director

Meet Our Artistic Team

Abdul Hammoud

Artist and Facilitator

Rania Ahmed

Artists and Facilitator

 Florence Folole Tupuola

Artist and Facilitator

Meena Shamaly

Artist and Facilitator

Sasha Leong

Artist and Facilitator

José-Pepe Inostroza Aqueveque

Artist and facilitator

Our Advisory Group

Farida Fleming

Farida Fleming is an evaluator committed to supporting positive change and social justice. She has over 20 years experience working with international donors, NGOs and government departments to monitor programs and design and

implement evaluations and evaluative systems .

Maria Dimopoulos

Maria Dimopoulos AM is a nationally and internationally

recognised executive leader and expert on multicultural affairs. Maria has over 25 years of experience in cultural diversity, gender equity justice and human


John Smitis

John is an arts manager with a background of arts

programming, research and policy development.

At CDN John works with the Board

and a skilled team to support stronger planning and evaluation of cultural development activities

and integration of regional

and national cultural policy

Lidia Thorpe

 She is a Gunnai-Gunditjmara woman Australian politician. She was the member for Northcote in the Victorian Legislative Assembly from 2017 to 2018 and is a member of the Victorian Greens.

Eveyln Tadros

She is a barrister practicing primarily in commercial and public law. she founded and co-directed the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival and is currently Chair of the board.

Sandeep Varma

He is an experienced organisational leader, and is currently leading a statewide youth human rights project for the Centre for Multicultural Youth.


Local Partners


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