Up to 200 people crowded into the Mori Gallery on August 8 to attend the official opening of the Beautiful Art for Innocent Children exhibition.
The exhibition was sponsored by Agent Orange Justice to aid “the innocent children being born now in Vietnam with horrific birth defects as a consequence of Agent Orange/dioxin remaining in the soil and the consequential genetic damage continuing for generations”.
The group said: “Agent Orange Justice is part of an international campaign to hold the US (and Australia) responsible for its 10-year chemical warfare against Vietnam, and get it to clean up the toxic mess left in parts of Vietnam's environment and win compensation for the 3 million Vietnamese who are devastated, some of whom are fourth generation victims.”
Works were featured by Australian-Vietnamese artists (some of whom are themselves victims of Agent Orange), Vietnamese and some well-known Australian artists, including a Dobell Prize winner, an Archibald Prize finalist and artists whose work appears in state and national galleries and international collections.
NSW Governor Marie Bashir opened the exhibition, together with the Vietnamese Consul-General Mai Phuoc Dzung. Kate Mulvany read extracts from her award-winning play, The Seed, about the daughter of an Australian Vietnam war veteran damaged by Agent Orange.
Funds raised from the art auction went to a Vietnamese Association of Victims of Agent Orange facility caring for newborn babies and children. The opening was followed by several days of events, including film showings and a seminar on the impact of Agent Orange. Speakers included Kate Mulvany and Eva To from Agent Orange Justice.
[For more details about the Agent Orange Justice campaign, visit www.agentorangejustice.org.au.]