Lives of Lebanese-Australians celebrated in art exhibition

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A new exhibition aims to celebrate the Lebanese community of Punchbowl with a series of images capturing their day-to-day lives.

Residents of Punchbowl such as Nancy Mourad, a cancer researcher with the Garvan Institute, say her community's strong spirit is often overlooked.

"Generally I think people stereotype and have negative perceptions about the Lebanese community," she said.

"I mean, yes I am from Punchbowl and, sure, I am a Lebanese Muslim but being able to express that yes, I am not a stay-at-home-mum who’s got no education and is forced to wear the veil. It's nice to be able to portray that in a different way and not have that stereotype."

Mourad featured in The Heart of Punchbowl, an in-depth project by journalist Jackie Dent and photographer Andrew Quilty which explored the lives of nine pairs of Lebanese Australian people, including sisters, cousins and married couples.

The cancer researcher was featured with her best friend Sara Mansour, a law student who also runs the highly successful poetry slam in Bankstown.

'I think it's been a fantastic experience to be able to come out and express what the Lebanese community is really about," she said.

'The Heart of Punchbowl' in their own words: Nancy Mourad

Journalist Jackie Dent spent months researching and getting to know the pairs featured in the exhibition. The result is a loving snapshot of Australian Lebanese living in Punchbowl, capturing their vibrancy and diversity. 

"While on the surface this exhibition is about exploring the lives of the community in Punchbowl, on a deeper level it is also about people and how they love each other, which is something we all connect with," Ms Dent said.

The pairs include fun-loving friends Charbel and Charbel who regularly feed the homeless; Wasim and Zeina, a married couple that run the Muslim section of Rookwood cemetery; and international boxing sensation Billy the Kid and his cousin Reyad.

Photographer Andrew Quilty said the exhibition focused on residents' daily lives.

"When people come to the exhibition they're going to see a little snapshot of the lives of the pairs [of people] we focused on," he said.

'The Heart of Punchbowl' in their own words: Andrew Quilty

"We really tried to delve into the lives of these people whether it be a day at work or a trip to work or [going out] for coffee or a day at church or a day at the mosque or training for a boxing fight."

'The Heart of Punchbowl' in their own words: Charbel Taouk 

 

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