Walking In My Shoes (Ondru), 2018


Walking in My Shoes is an art project that aims to tell stories of cultural, social and individual identity through personal objects and symbolism. It focuses on providing a voice of personal expression for Aboriginal and diverse communities within the City of Whittlesea.

Diverse groups of people co-exist within our society, but they do not necessarily enjoy a sense of community, a sense of belonging. There exists a challenge to build a sense of community, which opposes racism, xenophobia and oppression. Whilst acknowledging that every community is unique and changeable, interaction is the key to social change, a central force to building a community that is inclusive of all.

Gurinder K. / Object: Turban Cloth

“My whole family wore the turban but I still was not confident enough to wear the turban when I first came to Australia. I knew in my mind that I should, but I wasn’t prepared for it. When I first arrived here, we were shopping in Melbourne and my husband pointed out another community and said, ‘If they can wear it with confidence and represent their religion, why can’t you?’ Those other communities inspired me and built my confidence. If you have people around you who remind you why and how it touched your heart, that’s when you really think, I should.”

“When you come to the new country you’re scared about looking different with your turban, especially in the beginning. I was very hesitant. I do remember people looking at me in the train and not feeling confident. The first day I wore my turban when I went to Central Queensland University, my teacher said at the end of the lecture, ‘Is it a special day? What is the special occasion that made you wear this thing?’ So I explained the meaning to the whole class and they all clapped. I was very happy from the inside and that gave me a positive feeling and my confidence started to grow and grow.”

“The most important thing, is the actual love, which nobody can infuse in you until you, yourself are prepared. That love, I believe, comes when you get to know your history, educate yourself, about the real significance and what has been done to achieve this, what they (the gurus) have stood for.”

“I do feel this is part of my body now, I don’t feel separated from it anymore. I wouldn’t look at myself as the same person (if they were taken away), even in the mirror, I would feel as if some body part was cut, incomplete.”

Seyed Karim H. / Object: Prayer Ring

“This is my prayer ring from Iran. I bought it about ten years ago in the town I’m from in the north of Iran. I still remember the day when I went walking through the small dusty streets to buy my prayer ring. I still remember the noise and the people.”

“In my religion we wear rings when we’re doing prayers. I feel spiritually connected when I wear it during prayers. After the prayer, I still feel this spiritual energy in me as I carry this ring along with me. It is something beautiful to me.”

“It reminds me of my country and of my home that is now so far away. I feel I wear a part of my culture, my country and my memories of home, always with me. I try not to take it off. It is something that is part of me now. I go with it everywhere."

Regina H. / Object: Grandmother's Photograph

 “A real lady my grandmother… very serene, very peaceful, my grandfather’s favourite out of his three wives. You know those days, men had many wives. She was the best one, so refined.”

“I was born in China in the province of Canton. During the Cultural Revolution my grandfather in Hong Kong had to bribe some locals in our village to help my grandmother and me to escape to Hong Kong and be reunited with him, my parents and six sisters”. 

"I was 7 years old, being smuggled with my grandmother in a small fishing boat. I was so sick. It was the middle of the night– my first time in a boat, bus, anything.”

“In China, my grandmother had maids and she was very spoilt because my grandfather was a wealthy man. But because he went through interrogation and got all his properties taken off him during the revolution, she had no more money, so no more maids, only my sisters and I.”

“She used to make me go to the well and get water, by the time I got back it was only half a bucket of water and she got upset with me, she would chase me around, telling me off and I would run, run around through the garden laughing. Oh, how much I loved her. Even though she was harsh on me and treated me as a maid sometimes, these are the experiences that made me strong. I still love her a lot because she was a real lady, you know.”

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