Tri Setyani

My name is Tri and I came to Australia 9 years ago from Indonesia. I started visiting Melbourne detention centre with a colleague after work three years ago. Unexpectedly, without knowing anything at first, the weekly visit became my regular activity as I was very attracted by the people I met in the detention centre.

After sometime, I realised that there were few people inside who were doing art or would like to do some art. Then, I started coming to visits with sketchbooks and few of my water colour sketches, trying to illustrate their stories. I have never worked professionally as an artist but I always had the talent and the ideas. It was buried under full-time work in engineering and my busy life. The refugee issue brought my art back to life.

Through word of mouth and Facebook whispers I found out that there were other visual artists who had been visiting and bringing art supplies like me. I then contacted Margaret who was a university lecturer and Molly who was an RMIT art student. We agreed that there was a niche to use art as a medium for people inside the detention centre to express themselves and to bring the story out. We organised ourselves, applied for a time slot so we can bring more serious art materials. For a while it didn’t have a name. Only after meeting Azizeh and others in the detention centre, it became MAFA: Melbourne Artists for Asylum Seekers.