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Opening Hearts

Opening Hearts

Opening Hearts was an installation of 1620 ceramic human hearts – one for each man woman and child seeking asylum but being held in off-shore detention on Manus Island or Nauru. The installation was held at First Fleet Park at Circular Quay in Sydney from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday 10 December 2016. It was a Human Rights Day event designed to engage the passing public.

The hearts had been made from clay by 450 volunteers at workshops run by the artist during 2016 as part of the Connecting Hearts Project. Workshop participants – heartmakers – were able to discuss their response to the issue of Australia’s treatment of people seeking asylum as well as each making a number of unique anatomical representations of the human heart. Many inscribed their hearts with drawings or words.

On 10 December the hearts were laid on the grass in a double spiral formation, individually wrapped in white muslin. Members of the public were invited to walk the spiral and each unwrap a heart, placing it back on the grass, and taking the muslin with them as they walked the remainder of the spiral. If they wished they could then write a message on the cloth at a stall nearby and tie it to some temporary fencing. Representatives of organisations that support people seeking asylum were on hand if people wanted to find out more about the situation and explore other actions they might take.

Thousands of people saw the installation. About 1000 people walked the spiral in the six hours. Seven hundred people wrote messages, so that the fencing disappeared behind the white wrapping.


Sydney Morning Herald, 15 November 2016: 'Heartbreaking: The toll from Nauru and Manus Island Goes on Show in Sydney'

Guardian, 7 December 2016,  Opening Hearts Unwraps Offshore Detention: Its About Letting Yourself Feel Something 


Opening Hearts was made possible by generous donations by way of from the people listed here:

Sponsor – $500

Pamela Freeman

Principal Supporters – $250

Anna Buch • Sarah Gibson • Terry Godworth • Sue Kucharova • Chris Ryan

Strong Supporters – $100

Louise and Mark • Elizabeth Agius • Tim Carroll • Danuta and Geoffrey Chessor •  Sue Cunningham • Betty Hounslow • Janet Kossy • Keith March • Tom Massie • Deb Michels • Fran and Peter Munro • Mary O’Sullivan • Peter Pichler • Ann Porcino • Judy Quinn • Lyla Rogan • Carol Ruff • Ana Scarf • Smith Smithisamadog • Richard and Agnes Tulloch • Suzanne Walker • Alice Wong • Sue and David Young • Maggie Zhao

Friends and Supporters

Jennifer • Sophie • Sarah Ahern • Martha Ansara • Anny Bremner • Rhonda Cooper • Gwyn D • Maree Delofski • Ella Dreyfus • Chris and Marion Dutfield • Favour Economy • Laila Fanebust • Anna Fienberg • Mary Flaskas • Deborah Georgiou • Su Hanfling • Allison Irvin • Karen Jameyson • Monica Joyce • Jim Kable • Paivi Marjatta Kaukomaa • Bronwyn Kemp • Steve Kennedy • Rosemary King • Medina Krcic • Lynda Mack • Tim and Marj McMullen • Sue Murray • Lisa Phanthavady • Kathy Prokhovnik • Nicola Robinson • Paula Shaw • Jodi Stewart • Stephen Vella • Cassandra Wilkinson